“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18
And so it begins, the Lenten season. It is a time of reflection and preparation prior to the celebration of Easter when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It lasts for a period of forty days and during this time many believers take on the discipline of fasting and prayer. Fasting isn’t about deprivation but emulation of Jesus’ journey as He was led into the desert for 40 days (Matthew 4, Luke 4). It is a time of taking on spiritual disciplines like prayer, self-denial, and repentance. It is not a time for others to have pity on you but a time of reflection. During this time we are reminded of the death, burial, and the resurrection of Jesus. Those who are serious about their spiritual life look forward to this time of sacrifice because it allows for an opportunity to develop a closer relationship with Christ.
Prayer is also an integral part of the Lenten season. When you clear your mind through sacrifice and fasting your awareness of God’s presence is heightened. When your mind is not clouded with all of the concerns of the day it is easier to focus on the things of God and the things that matter as you seek Him through prayer. When this period of dedication ends you may just find that you want to make it a regular practice instead of a yearly occasion.
Whether you are refraining from a particular pleasure or taking on a spiritual practice/discipline, make this a season of spiritual renewal and awakening as you develop a deeper relationship with Christ.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24