DAY 20: Give It Up for Lent!

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.”  Matthew 4:1-2

Be Quiet.  Sit still and silent for 4 minutes.  Let your mind be aware that God is present with you. When you get distracted, don’t fight with yourself.  Simply turn your thoughts again to Him.  Imagine the delight your Father feels because you showed-up to be with Him!  Breath slowly and relax.   

Scripture.  Matthew 4:1-2.  “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.” 

Meditation.  Lent is a 40-day solemn season in the liturgical church year which begins on Ash Wednesday.  It commemorates the 40 days of fasting Jesus spent in the wilderness prior to His public ministry. The intention of Lent is to prepare Christ’s followers for a joyful celebration of His Resurrection on Easter Sunday!  Historically, the preparations include fasting (giving up) meat/animal products, alcohol, sex, as well as engaging (taking on) generosity, simplicity, and deep prayer.    

Fasting is voluntary and not reserved for the spiritual elite.  In the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s people regularly observing scheduled and situational fasts, but they were rebuked when they abused or made a show of their fasting.  These days, little attention is given to fasting, yet it remains a potent spiritual discipline for those who will choose it.   

Would you dare try fasting this Lent?  It doesn’t have to be extreme.  God will lead you as you ask for guidance.  You get to choose the meals, drinks or activities you will abstain from consuming.  You can decide the length of time you will fast.  Here are a few examples:   I will fast from alcohol every day from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  Or I will fast from animal products (meat, eggs, milk) every Friday (or every day except Friday) throughout the season of Lent.  Or I will give up social media and streaming services between 6pm and 6am every day. 

As you fast, try to utilize the newly available time, money and energy to engage with God in other practices.  For example:  Be with God in prayer during the time previously spent on social media or TV.  Give away money that otherwise would’ve been spent on food and drink.  At times you will be tempted, or you will fail to keep the fast.   Return to God for grace and mercy.  Pray the indwelling Holy Spirit fills you with fresh revelation of Jesus, especially His sufferings during the last week of His life.  John 12-20 is a great section of Bible reading for this. 

Question to Ponder.   What fast is the Lord pointing you toward for Lent 2022?  Approach it as a way of spiritual transformation, that you may become more reliant on God’s grace.  Be specific about the what’s and when’s of your fast.  

Connect with God.  Take time to write-out the specifics of your Lenten fast.  Include your prayers.  You don’t have to do this on paper; a computer file or dictation app may be more convenient for you. 

Connect with Others.  Who do you know who likely wants to give it up and take it on for Lent?  There’s strength in numbers when we fast at the same time and pray together.