Lent: 101

40 Days of Preparation

Who participates in Lent?

Anyone can participate, yet mostly Christian view Lent as a catalyst for spiritual growth.

What is Lent?

Lent is a tool to help Christians to live intentionally as they allow the Holy Spirit to move in their lives in the weeks approaching Easter.

What is the purpose of Lent?

Lent reminds humanity of the realities of mortal life with death and sin, and how we have hope in Christ through his death and resurrection which restores humanity into community with God. The hope of Christ is the focus of Lent.

According to one source, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be. One can effectively relieve the mystery only with a purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”

When is Lent?

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends the Thursday before Easter. It is 46 days in total. 40 days of fasting plus the six Sundays of celebration.

What are Lent practices?

Many Lent practices act as a slowing agent in our busy lives. By counteracting movement Lent practices intentionally bring perspective and awareness of our sin problem. Exercise like self-examination, listening, preparation, and repentance help create space for God to work in our lives as we tune our hearts to the Spirit’s voice.

Fasting (denying yourself of something) is a recognized practice associated with Lent. And trust me denying yourself coffee for 40 days helps to cultivate a longing for Easter like nothing I have experienced. Through the denial of self or desire, we work on our heart to submit and can fill our new available time with a Christ-centered activity. While fasting may be the most recognized practice of Lent, not everyone takes something away. Popular Lenten additions are reading Lenten Bible passages or partaking in random acts of kindness. Generosity is another traditional Lenten practice that points to Christ’s hope as a generous gift. So, give to others as Christ has given to you.

By taking on these practices, we simulate Jesus’ 40-day journey in the wilderness. We engage with the ideas of wrestling with temptation (fasting) and hearing from the Father (slowing practices). In our repentance and submission, we find joy in our forgiveness through Christ.

Where to start when choosing a Lent practice?

  1. Pray for God’s guidance. Ask for him to reveal to you an area you most need to focus on. Keeping in mind the point is to draw closer to Christ.
  2. Consider your capacity for removal or adding practice.
    • A simple exercise if you are at life capacity is to slowly drink a cup of water while thanking God for the simplicity of the moment.
    • Redirecting your thoughts can be a task, yet deciding that you want to capture your negative thoughts and create new pathways to positive thinking can start during Lent.
    • Choosing to read a Lenten devotional book.
    • Think about habits you would like to break and consider what you will fill the time with as you reallocate your time.
  3. State your plan of action.
  4. When you forget or cave start fresh and keep trying.
  5. God is faithful to show you His presence if you trust him.