What are you giving up for Lent?
“Lent is nearing soon, what are you giving up for Lent?” asked my Aunt. Pausing at my doorstep, my hands went straight to my hips, and I huffed, “I don’t know. I am struggling with this,” shaking my head, I started walking through the door. Time for work.
I was struggling with figuring out what to do for Lent. And I wasn’t sure why. My first thought was that I was going to stop eating bread during Lent. But I couldn’t find any peace with that decision.
My time with God was showing me that clearly, He was not aligned to my wants and desires for Lent. Enjoying a book by Craig Groeschel ‘Dangerous Prayers’, I prayed that night, a prayer he referenced in his book (highly recommended read) that David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
He answered. And I was not comfortable with His response.
I was finding no peace because my restraint from eating bread was ‘my want and desire’ and not His. But more importantly, I felt Him leading me to understand the meaning of Lent. I have practiced the act of Lent from a young age. It was a tradition. It was just something that we did during this time of the year. “Why?” I felt God asking me…. *crickets* …
That lead me to dig and to find answers to my questions.
Is the word ‘Lent’ in the Bible?
No. The word ‘Lent’ or ‘Ash Wednesday’ is not in the Bible.
What does the word Lent mean?
The online etymology dictionary notes that the word Lent is short for Lenten which is “from Old English lencten “springtime, spring,” the season, also “the fast of Lent,” from West Germanic *langitinaz “long-days,” or “lengthening of the day.””
According to the Oxford dictionary, Lent is the past and past participle of Lend. Using the word as a noun represents “the period preceding Easter that in the Christian Church is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. In the Western Church, it runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and so includes forty weekdays.”
When and who started Lent?
This seems to be a very highly debated question in Church history. Searches proved that there are many opinions and beliefs on when this started.
When is Lent celebrated?
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and runs 40 days up until Easter Saturday. The act of fasting, abstinence, and penitence occurs only during the week, including Saturdays and not on Sundays.
Why do Christians celebrate Lent?
For many Christians, it is a season to observe and reflect the sacrifice that Jesus made on the way to the cross and His fasting in the desert for 40 days. It is a way in which many Christians draw closer to Christ.
What do Christians actually do during Lent?
At this time, some Christians may:
- Fast as Jesus did and eat no food for the 40 days and nights, but drink water
- Eat fish only on Friday’s during the fast
- Eat no meat, sweets or dairy
- Give up other things besides food, like bad habits (no technology, smoking, etc.)
- Increase in their spiritual disciplines like praying more and studying the word of God to have a closer relationship with Him.
Have you ever felt guilty when you didn’t participate in Lent? Or perhaps, you may have been like me, not really understanding clearly what Lent meant to Christians. I am now clear on “what I am giving up for Lent.”
For me this year, in my time with Christ and after learning more about Lent, the word “discipline” was laid on my heart. I chose ‘omittance of bread’ originally for the wrong reasons. But the Lord wanted for me, discipline. Discipline in my spiritual walk, food choices, weekly exercise, and mental healthiness. All for His glory. So over the next forty days, I will journey with God in the area of ‘discipline’ for my life.
Food for thought: What has God called you to do for Lent? Pray a dangerous prayer. Ask God to search your heart.
Prayer: Holy Father, none can fathom your mighty ways or deeds. You know our innermost thoughts and desires. Search our heart Lord and show us any unpleasantness within us. The season of Lent in its purest form, was created so that Christians could replicate the suffering that Christ experienced in the wilderness. We may not always get it right. Forgive us. Your word guides us, though that sometimes the fast that you require is to loosen the chains of injustice, release the heavy burdens, feed the hungry, provide shelter for the poor, clothe the naked and not turn away from our own flesh and blood [Isaiah 58:6-7]. Forgive us Lord. Guide us in your truth and wisdom. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen
May God’s grace, mercy, and love be with you.
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