Why Bother With Lent? - Part Three
- Elliot Grudem, Bruce Benedict
- Feb 18, 2010
- Series: Lent
The Lenten Season often provides Christ’s followers with more confusion than clarity. However, there can be some benefit to thinking about the themes of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in preparation for Easter Sunday.
Over the next three days, we will consider the Lenten Season and ways that incorporating some traditional Lenten practices can help you grow in your faith.
Fasting and Prayer
Fasting and prayer are two traditional focuses of Lent.
Fasting, joined with fervent prayer and reading of Scriptures, is a spiritual discipline of humbling ourselves in abstinence before God to turn away some tragedy, or for obtaining of some special blessing. Fasting is traditionally the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a limited time. Some people give up a certain behavior or habits during the season.
We fast (not just during Lent) because Jesus told us to do so (Matt. 6:16, Mark 2:20). We fast because we continue to see the pattern of fasting practiced in the Church (Acts 13, for example). We fast because it is one of the means God uses to break the power of sin in our lives, prepare us well for prayer, and humble us before him (for unlike God, we need food to live).
The act of self-denial can be a helpful tool in your Christian growth. There is nothing magic about it; however it can be a helpful reminder of your deep need for Jesus and the way that Jesus meets and satisfies your every need.
So as you pray, join the Psalmist in praying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me an know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps. 139:23-24).
Often the money that is saved from giving up something for Lent is given to help the poor and oppressed (giving of alms). As we fast, we are reminded that we have a savior who is rich in mercy. In response to this mercy, we follow the pattern set by the one who became poor for our sake, so that we, by his poverty, could become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
As we give of our resources (time and treasure) to those in need, we remind ourselves of Jesus’ self-giving mercy and we demonstrate to those in need the kind of Savior we serve.
Since Lent was a season where people new in the faith would prepare for baptism, the church has often used this time to teach on baptism, deepening our understanding and applications of the union we have in Christ in his death and resurrection.
If you haven’t been baptized, get baptized and join a church! If you have been baptized, use the Lenten Season as a time to improve on that baptism by remembering the promises signified and sealed to you in that sacrament.
Historically, Lent was a time when recent converts would learn the fundamentals of the faith in preparation for Baptism at Easter. Use the Lenten Season as a time to read the story of Jesus, especially his journey to the cross. Read through The Gospel According to Mark, trying to get through Mark 8 during the first 20 days of Lent and then reading Mark’s description of Jesus’ journey to the cross during the second 20 days of Lent.
Preparation for Easter
Again, the Lenten Season and its encouragement to take an extended time to focus on the death and resurrection of Christ provides us with an opportunity to honor God as we prepare for Easter Sunday.
Another way to consider the value of recognizing Lent is to consider the ways you currently prepare for Easter Sunday.
- New clothes for the kids?
- A flower for mom?
- Candy for baskets?
Now, consider if there might be a better and more beneficial way to think about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.