Lent is the six–week period leading up to Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday (26th February this year) which is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. This allows for 40 days of fasting and 6 Sundays. Since every Sunday is a celebration that Jesus is risen from the dead, Sundays are always feast days for Christians!
Lent is one of the most important times of the year for many Christians around the world. It is seen as a time of reflection and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. People often fast or give something up during this time as a way of focussing more attention on God and expressing a greater dependence on him. It can also be an opportunity to spend more time in bible study and prayer.
At its heart, Lent is a time for followers of Jesus to take to heart his call to repentance (turning away from sin and the things that keep us from God), to be assured of his forgiveness through his death and resurrection, and to grow in deeper trust and commitment to Jesus as our Lord.
What practices would help you do that this Lent? Would it be helpful to give something up during this time? You’d do this, not because the thing itself is necessarily bad, but that it is less important than Jesus and the fullness of life he gives. By giving it up you are saying, ‘Jesus, you fulfil my needs better than this thing’. Would it be helpful to do something new or more of something during Lent? You could commit more time to prayer, bible reading, or journaling, using the space created by what you have given up.
Ultimately, this is between you and God. God isn’t interested in religious practices for their own sake. He certainly doesn’t want us to announce to everyone what we are doing. Yet for 2000 years Christians have found Lent helpful for renewing and focusing their faith. Perhaps it will help you too.