Lent 2024

Feb 7, 2024Blog

What is Lent?

Lent is one of the oldest observances of the Christian calendar. Inspired by Christ’s forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), it is a seven-week period of preparation for celebrating Easter. Ash Wednesday (February 14th this year) marks the start of the Lenten season. It is named after the tradition of smudging ashes on the forehead in the sign of a cross – a reminder of our mortality as sinners and a signal of repentant self-humbling (Job 42:6; Daniel 9:3; Jonah 3:4-9; Matthew 11:21). Observing Lent historically involves community-wide participation in the “three pillars” of piety drawn from chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Sundays are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent. Instead they are days to feast, gathering together to worship and celebrate Christ’s resurrection with God’s people.

 

Why fasting?

Fasting is willingly giving up something good for a time to make space in our hearts for something better – God. Celebrated poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” To grow in our devotion requires that we grow in our attention. In order to pull ourselves away from the many demands that occupy so much of it and amply attend to God’s Word and presence, we will need to make some changes in our daily rhythms. Fasting is one such time-honored practice, turning our focus away from common distractions and toward God Himself to more intentionally connect with the lover of our souls. Fasting is ultimately for the purpose of feasting on Christ himself!
In addition to the important work of practicing self-denial, a period of fasting can provide opportunity for the important work of self-examination and quiet reflection.
    • How might you begin your days during this season with a moment of quiet before God?
    • How might you end your nights with a review of the day?
    • What do you think God might be calling you to fast from this season in order to slow down and listen to Him (James 1:19-21)?
    • How might you participate in prayer, fasting and/or almsgiving (caring for those in need around us) together as a small group?

In order to aid you in this time of reflection and prayer, consider these resources below during Lent. We pray this season of Lent finds you more rested in Christ your Savior (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

Check out our other blog posts:

Observing Lent in 2023

Observing Lent in 2023

What is Lent? Lent is one of the oldest celebrations of the Christian calendar. Mirroring Christ's...