Growing up in Brazil, my family and I did not observe Lent. We celebrated Easter but Lent was just not part of our tradition. It wasn't until I came to the U.S. that I realized how big of a deal Lent is to some Christians.
Every year I reassess my commitment to Christ during Lent. I understand the reason why some observe it the way they do and I celebrate it. My personal conviction is to follow my goal of making Biblical Fast more of a habit in my life during this season.
On a related note, an elderly lady was telling my family at the end of service that she prayed for us often. We told her thank you and she went on to say "I pray and fast so much that I can't get fat!" She started laughing and so did we. There are side effects to fasting but I am aware that dieting changes the way you look while Biblical fasting changes the way you see. Biblical Fasting opens you to have a greater spiritual vision.
One of the things I try to do before starting a Fast is to read the Bible so I know what Biblical Fasting should look like. I also listen to sermons about fasting. Recently I heard the pastor say that old saints like John Wesley (founder of the Methodist movement) wouldn't ordain any pastors who did not fast twice a week. They were called Methodist for a reason and Fasting (as well as other spiritual discipline) were part of their lives. I was mega inspired by that!
Here's my non-traditional process of observing Lent this year:
1 • Pray and ask God for guidance - You cannot go wrong when you start with prayer. The Holy Spirit is there to lead us and guide us in God's truth. I've been also mindful to pray more during the day. If you know me, you know it's simple yet intentional. I'm glad God hears and answers.
2 • Read the Bible - I am committed to read the Bible and to study it during Lent. I am currently reading the One Year Bible (I'll give you an update and tips later this week) and I am studying 1 Corinthians. I'm also taking a Bible Study Methods class. The kids and I are focusing on reading (and watching) texts about Jesus' death and resurrection. We're all learning new things.
3 • Practice Biblical Fasting - It's been my goal to fast more often and I'm super excited about Lent cause it's a great season for Fasting. I can't remember if I've blogged about this but I can assure you that talking to your doctor is the first thing you should do before you fast. There are people who shouldn't fast (if you are sick for example) so you want to be sure you are not on that list. I also believe that God can tell you exactly how to go about it. Biblical Fasting is a great way to open your eyes and ears to God.
4 • Be Joyful - Jesus came to take away the spirit of heaviness and give us the oil of joy. You bet I'm claiming joy and walking in the joy of the Lord (which is my strength) for the next 40-something days. Fasting doesn't have to be depressing. My God is a joyful God and I'm laughing and dancing along with Him.
5 • Listen - I believe that God still speaks. I am mindful to listen to Him as I pray, practice Biblical Fasting and rejoice. Whether God speaks before, during or after the fast it doesn't matter to me. I'm just thankful that I can develop a listening ear because God does speak therefore, I will listen and obey.
My friend, remember that Lent is what you make it. God does not need a 'holy season' to be good to us. He took care of that on the cross through Jesus' sacrifice. If you get busy and remember it's Easter season on Good Friday, don't you fret. God loves you and He desires to communicate with you. I am mindful that by observing Lent I am not twisting God's arm to do stuff for me. He's a GREAT Father who takes pleasure in blessing His children. I think that this piece of information might be the best deal of all: I serve a good and generous God.
Happy Lent, no matter how you choose to observe it (or not).
• For a funny video about what Lent actually is, click here