Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Embracing Lent


The Big Idea: Take advantage of the Lent period to prepare yourself for a more meaningful Easter. 

An Evangelical's Tips for Meaningful Lent.

Today is the first day of Lent. I grew up in a Baptist church, so Lent was not in our vocabulary. I assumed it was a going-through-the-motions ritual enforced by the Catholic Church. My husband who is a Protestant pastor, was raised Catholic. He realized as he experienced ministry, that taking six weeks before Easter to look toward the Cross and Resurrection of Christ was very helpful.

Lent is the period of 40 days before Maundy Thursday during Passion Week. It is to be a time of fasting  prayer and repentance. It is not a time to beat yourself up.   Rather it is time to focus on our imperfect nature of sin that separates us from communion with God, therefore being grateful for what Jesus has done for us to make us right with Him. 

Lent can help us set aside time in our busy distracted life for focus on God. There is a structure to it, as  with Advent, to have reminders and take time to focus on Him. In the Old Testament we see that God is all about ways to remember who He is and what He did for us. The older I get, I am all for reminders!

We don't know exactly when, in Church History, Lent was proposed. However the root of it is in the Bible from Jesus Himself. He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. We see other examples through the Scriptures. People in the Old Testament fasted to pray and seek God. Queen Esther notably had her staff fast for a three days about a very important meeting with the King (Esther 4). There are numerous other Biblical examples.

Traditionally this time leading up to Passion Week was for fasting. It started to take on different forms that became various traditions of abstinence from meat, for instance, and other things on certain days of the week during Lent. But there is nothing in the Bible with special commands for Lent, and these are traditions. Fasting according to God's Word is most often coupled with prayer.

So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer. Ezra 8:23

And it is not about looking pious before others. Jesus made that clear. Isaiah in the Old Testament also talked a lot about that.

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. Matt. 6:16

I like a variety of tools to help me get into God's Word, to pray better and to get to know Jesus better. This is what they are. Tools. Some years I do something for Lent and some years I don't. But most of the time I do. Most people think of Lent as a time for deprivation, such as fasting, or giving something up. There are times this is useful. I always find when I am craving something and take a fast from it, I try to point my longing or hunger to God in prayer.


But Lent can also be a time for adding something that will enhance your spiritual life, in particular something to draw you closer to your walk with the Lord or to enhance your understanding of the cross of Jesus and His act of salvation. Here are some examples.

  • Read through one of the Gospels several times in different translations.
  • Read through all four of the Gospels.
  • Find an article on the cross of Christ to read each week from favorite authors. Christianity Today often has thought provoking articles.
  • Memorize a series of verses, such as one each week. One year I memorized Isaiah 53 during Lent.
  • Find a place to volunteer in the community or at your church, and try to do that weekly during Lent.
  • Read a book about the cross, salvation, prayer, etc. Here is a list of 10 best books about the cross 
  • Put together your own playlist of songs related to Christ’s work on the cross: songs about the Blood of Jesus, the Cross, victory over death, and so on.
  • Watch a movie or a video put together from the Bible Project each week related to the theme. There are a lot of movies about the life of Jesus. The Bible Project has a lot of thematic 5-7 minute videos and longer podcasts.


Sometimes in the Lent period we will look for a special opportunity to focus on Jesus. If you look up religious events in your area, often on the website of a Christian Radio Station, you will find these special opportunities.

  • Attend a program on the shroud of Turin, an apologist about the reality of Christ, or a Christian lecture.
  • See a play at a local church, such as a passion play or Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Fury.
  • Often a new Christian movie comes out in the theatre.
  • Find a place that has The Stations of the Cross and walk through in prayer.

These are merely ideas. I trust this might get you to think about what you might do. May you find great blessing in focusing on Jesus during this time.

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:14

In 2007 I wrote a blog series for each day of Lent. It was my Lenten addition that year. Find it here

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1. Do you associate Lent with a traditional church of your youth? What kind of thoughts does it bring up for you? How does that compare with my view on the value of honoring Lent?

2. What might be the benefit of focusing on the cross or the blood of Jesus during this period? In what way might it make an impact on Easter Sunday for you?

3. Do any of these suggestions spark an idea to try? It does not have to be the same as mine. Make it your own!

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