NIV Joel 2:12 ‘Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’
What are you giving up for Lent? Answer: I am not “giving up” anything for Lent. Yes, I am going to deny myself something as a fast. I will do so for a purpose. The purpose is to use this fast to help me strengthen my focus on my need of my Lord.
The spiritual discipline of fasting is an ancient discipline. It is a discipline Jesus engaged in. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism.
NIV Matthew 4:2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
In Lent, the discipline of fasting is done prior to Easter (a time in the past when new converts were baptized). During Lent, many continue this tradition as an act of devotion. Sadly, for many, it has become a ritual with very little meaning (I will give up eating something I don’t like anyway). The fast should be a sacrifice, it should be an act of devotion that leads us toward a deeper desire to seek the Lord.
Lent is a time of renewal, of taking account what is really valuable. Let these 40 days of preparation bring us to a deeper relationship to our Lord. As we “give up” or “add to” for spiritual reasons this season, let us remember the words of our Lord.
NIV Matthew 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to men 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.