Today is the beginning of Lent.
Lent is something that Christians often approach differently. Some of us are new to the idea of Lent and are unsure what it means to observe it. Some of us know about Lent and appreciate the season but don’t observe it ourselves. There are also some of us who might have misconceptions about Lent and have withheld from observing it because of those misconceptions. And there are some of us who observe Lent regularly.
No matter how we approach this season, it’s helpful to understand what Lent is and why Christians celebrate it. So continue reading to gain a better understanding of what Lent is.
When is Lent?
Before we discuss what Lent is, it is important to understand when Lent is celebrated. Lent is celebrated from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday, while some extend their observance to either Good Friday or Holy Saturday.
What is the purpose of Lent, and how was it traditionally observed?
The purpose of Lent is to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday, traditionally by fasting and prayer. Fasting involved abstaining from eating food for a certain period of time. During a fast, we learn to depend on God for strength and spend time in focused prayer.
Fasting during Lent is meant to reflect when Jesus fasted in the wilderness. For forty days, Jesus was in the wilderness without food. Because He was at a weak point, the devil came to tempt Jesus. Even though Satan tempted Jesus with many desirable things, such as bread or a vast kingdom, Jesus did not give in to Satan’s temptations. Instead, He used God’s Word to combat every single one of Satan’s temptations.
The forty days that Jesus was in the wilderness is reflected during Lent as the time from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday (minus Sundays) is a total of forty days. Because of Jesus’s actions, we are encouraged to cling to God’s Word during Lent and see God as all we truly need.
How Lent is practiced today
While people today still fast from food during Lent, others fast from something different, such as watching TV or drinking coffee. The principle remains the same no matter how someone chooses to fast. As the person finds themselves craving what they are fasting from, they are encouraged to rely on God and trust in Him. And they are reminded that no earthly means of satisfaction compares to the satisfaction we receive from God.
What we choose to give up during Lent is less about us and more about Christ.
Often, people can go about Lent in the wrong way and believe that their fasting earns them favor with God. Or some people try to stay away from whatever they are giving up as a way to “better themselves.” While we certainly shouldn’t judge people for how they go about Lent, as believers, it is important that we keep Christ at the center of Lent.
The sacrifices we make during Lent point us to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. When we give up something for God during Lent, we are reminded of all that Jesus gave up for us. The gospel—the good news that Jesus came, died for us, and rose again—boasts that it’s not about what we do but what Christ has done that matters most. Therefore, we fast and draw close to God during Lent in response to the gospel.
Lent allows us to rest in what Christ has done for us on the cross
This means that we are to see the season of Lent as not a time to earn God’s favor but to rest in the favor we receive through Christ. In response to that favor, or grace, we humbly and joyfully give something up so that we can more faithfully depend on God. And even if we don’t give up something during Lent, we can still respond to Christ’s grace through dedicated time with God in prayer and Bible study.
As we spend focused time with God during Lent, our hearts ready themselves for Easter. We are reminded of the cost Jesus paid for our salvation. We are encouraged to confess our sins to God and rest in His forgiveness through Christ. We are led to worship and adore the One who gave His life for us and cleansed us of our sins. During Lent, our hearts grow more joyous each day until they burst with overwhelming delight on Easter Sunday.
Lent studies and resources and studies
If you’re looking for resources to help make this Lent season intentional, the Daily Grace Co.® has several resources for you. The first is The Heart of Christ, which is a beautiful book filled with poems and devotionals that will focus your attention on who Jesus is. The second is our 40 Days with Jesus study that looks deeply at Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. And the third is our Life of Jesus Kids Cards, which walks kids through Christ’s life from His birth to ascension.
We pray that these resources will encourage you and foster gratitude for Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Whether you use these resources or not, we encourage you to embrace this Lent season and fix your eyes on the One who gave up His life for you.
Additional resources about Lent
What is Lent, And Should I Observe it?