An Overview of Lent
By Shirley Jackson, President Metropolitan PUSH Ministry
What is Lent?
Lent is a 40-day season of purposeful focus on prayer and fasting to draw us closer to God. A time to cleanse ourselves of unhealthy habits, relationships, and unforgiveness that block our blessings. A time to re-evaluate and redirect our use of time, talents, spiritual gifts, and service. A time to be more intentional.
When is Lent?
Lent is forty days before Easter, excluding Sundays. Sundays are excluded because every Sunday is like a little Easter and 40 days is like a tithe of one’s time, or one-tenth of a year. Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Lent this year is March 1 – April 15, 2017.
Why Should I Participate in Lent?
Are you satisfied with every aspect of your Christian life? Are you living a fulfilled life of purpose, passion, and direction? Are you satisfied with your relationships at work, at home, among friends, and family? Are you using your gifts and talents to build up the body of Christ? Are you sensing that God wants you to do more or something different? God has a plan for your life. Are you on God’s plan? Do you fill the emptiness inside with mindless activities, TV, excessive eating, drinking, and unhealthy relationships? Our lives are filled with distractions and frustrations that take our focus away from God.
What Should I Do for Lent?
Repent and Re-Focus – Lent is a great time to seek earnest forgiveness from God and man. It is a 40-day trial run in changing your lifestyle and placing God on the forefront of your daily priorities. Each day should include a devotional of scripture, prayer, medita-tion and journaling. Set aside a designated place to do it. Rededicate yourself to God.
Fast – Fasting represents a cleansing process and demonstrates our utter dependence on God. It gets rid of the clutter in your life that you might be open to clearly hear from God. This does not mean that you must completely go without food but it does mean that you cut out some unwholesome foods and cravings. Give up or reduce your dependence on alcoholic beverages, chocolates, cigarettes, fast food, clothes and shoe shopping, or TV shows that you think gives you pleasure and strength. Instead, go to bible study, read a biblical book, pray more than usual, or do something intentional to focus more on God.
Pray – Christians use Lent as a time of intentional heart-felt prayer beyond their usual daily devotionals. They seek God for some-thing specific and pray throughout the day. Prayer draws you closer to God for answers and direction for your life. Listen intently as you pray, journal what you believe God is saying to you. Develop a prayer spirit. Download the 2017 Prayer Schedule.
Serve—Cultivate a charitable spirit of service by helping, giving, and speaking kind words of affirmation. Volunteer your time and talent to help others or an organization in some meaningful way. Give generously, above and beyond your tithes and offering to the work of the kingdom. Develop an attitude of gratitude that you are blessed to serve and to give. Then, give and serve cheerfully!
What Should I expect at the end of 40 Days?
Live in expectation of answered prayer! You will reap more than you sow! Expect more clarity about God’s purpose for your life. Expect a more fulfilling lifestyle and more loving relationships. Expect to rid yourself of some unhealthy habits. You should have a new lease on life, a more meaningful prayer life, and a priceless dependent relationship on Jesus Christ that causes you to live life more abundantly!