Why Should Christians Practice Lent?

Being raised Baptist, I’m about as Protestant as they come, but sometime around college/post-college, I started paying attention to the liturgical Christian calendar and found great meaning and spiritual growth through intentional times of focus (Advent, Lent, etc.) I love the implications of ashes on my forehead and the purpose of lighting candles every week, all in preparation–reminders that we are waiting and seeking and desperately needy for a Savior.

So why would a Christ-follower practice Lent?

  1. Just for clarity, fasting and sacrificing during the 40 days prior to Easter is not going to save you. We don’t give up to gain any eternal salvation. We give up to gain a deeper dependence on our God: “From dust you came and from dust you shall return.” We gain clarity and turn from our hidden idols back to the One we were made for and the life He called us too. ” Some families may find spiritual value in giving up something for Lent – television, sweets, video games – not as a penance, but as an outer symbol of dying to self during a season of spiritual reflection” (Barbara Curtis). Lent reminds us that we need Him.
  2. Consequently, Lent is about releasing the idol of comfort and the delusional lies the Enemy has provoked us to believe. “Comfort isn’t where we find rich joy” (Raechel Myers, She Reads Truth). How quickly we forget and turn away to alluring lies. When I choose to release something precious to me (whether it’s sugar, social media, eating out, or seeing movies), I am saying to God, “Yes, you are enough. You are more than enough. I am going to delight in you and find deeper satisfaction in things that last.” Easy to give up our little comforts? Hardly. But oh so worth it. Doing hard things reworks our priorities.

If it’s true that we spend 90% of our time seeking comfort, what would
happen to that extra time if we eliminated the excessive mind-
numbing technology, the frivolous entertainment? Now, we don’t have
to sacrifice all “entertainment”, but what if we rethought our fun and
found more soul-nourishing ways to interact with our family and
friends? Have slow dinner parties where we really engage with
people. Read a book. Dust off the board games. Paint that canvas. Go
on a hiking trip with your kids. Take up a sport just for fun. Journal.
Clean out your extra stuff and donate it to someone who really needs
it. Think outside the movie and pizza box.

Christ in the Wilderness, 1898 (oil on canvas) by Briton Riviere

3. The season of Lent gives us a snapshot into the life of Christ. What if we
took those 40 days and pondered what He did. Read through the
Gospels slowly. Chewed on the Words in red. Regularly thanked and
presented ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. Jesus spent 40 days in
the desert, withdrawn from the trappings of this world (but certainly
not from the temptations). When the time came to a close, the Devil
tried to lure Christ away from His mission and purpose, but of course,
Jesus was focused on His calling and refuted the lies of the Enemy.
At the end, angels were sent to attend to Him. I imagine Jesus feasted.

So at the end of our Lenten practice, we come to Holy week, remembering the ultimate sacrifice of our Redeemer and celebrating with great purpose the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we feast, rejoicing in Him who has given us all good gifts.

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