What is Lent?
Many of you may have heard of Lent or even been in a church that marked it as an important season on the Christian calendar, but what is the true purpose of Lent? Outside of the church, lent has been adopted by culture at large as a time of “giving something up” or denying yourself something for the purpose of self-discipline. But the true meaning of Lent is much deeper and more focused than the simple act of denial.
Lent is the 46-day period (excluding Sundays) on the Christian calendar that spans from Ash Wednesday to Easter morning. It is a period of time where believers enter into a season of fasting and focus as we seek to draw our attention to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Our hope is that during this Lent season, your family would truly enter into the tradition of Lent by establishing a rhythm of consistency. We encourage you to spend time considering how and when you will pursue the joyful disciplines of reading, praying, meditating and fasting during the season.
*The song listed each week is taken from Hymns for the Christian Life by Keith and Kristyn Getty.
Each week, we have suggested an area of fasting to apply to our lives. Fasting is a tangible, physical activity that points to our spiritual longing to be rooted in Jesus alone and find our true comfort to our life in Christ. Rather than simply subtracting something from our lives, this is an opportunity to add something greater. These particular fasts were chosen because each represents a common comfort our culture runs to for distraction. We should consider ways in which we can leverage the fast to engage in deeper prayer, study, community, meditation, etc.
Although encouraged to pursue a complete fast on many of the weeks (i.e., abstaining completely from the area of the week), weeks 1 and 6 are not expected to be absolute fasts. Week 1 involves a fast from food. You may choose to fast from one meal a day; others will do an entire day; others still might choose a fast of multiple days. Week 6 involves a fast from sleep. You are neither expected nor encouraged to abstain from sleep for the entire week. However, the hope is that we might set our alarms an hour or two earlier, stay up an hour or two later and devote one entire night or morning to prayer. Plan ahead to the degree to which you will engage in the fast on those two weeks.
Additionally, consider the possibility of building each week upon the next. For instance, you could continue the Week 1 fast into Week 2 and so forth to eventually do all six fasts together. Again, this is not intended to be a burden, but rather an opportunity and should be stewarded as circumstances allow. May we being to prepare our hearts accordingly
Week 1: Food
Week 2: Television and Movies
Week 3: Social Networking and Internet
Week 4: Caffeine and Sweets
Week 5: Radio and Music
Week 6: Sleep