Lent is a 46 day period with 40 days of fasting leading up to Easter. It’s 46 days because we do not fast on Sundays. During this time of reflection, we read the scriptures, pray, and seek a closer connection with God through fasting. We fast in order to examine our hearts and our relationship with God so that we can remove those things that would separate us from Him.
In the Old Testament God commanded his people to fast (afflict their souls) during a time of consecration and reflection prior to confessing their sins and receiving atonement.
“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. (Leviticus 16:29-31 NKJV)
Once atonement was made, the people were brought back into a proper relationship with God. Where sin separated them from God, the fasting and atonement caused them to draw closer to God again
Fasting is the act of abstaining from food or other items and habits as a sacrifice to God. It is both challenging and rewarding as we press through our discomfort to examine ourselves and our relationship with God.
If you’re having difficulty determining what to fast, here are some ideas.
Pray for God’s guidance.
Fasting is a spiritual act that is born from our relationship with God. So we should welcome his input into our fasting decision.
Start a reading plan.
Reading scripture while fasting and praying can really bring the scriptures to life. The spiritual connection is undeniable. The Bible App has a 40 Day reading plan that’s great for lent.
Get a prayer partner.
You don’t have to do this completely alone. It may be good to have a prayer partner or group that prays together or separately at the same time each day.
Choose a challenging fast.
For example, if you’re a person who drinks sodas daily, perhaps you should consider fasting sodas. On the other hand, if you don’t typically drink sodas, don’t fast sodas because it won’t be a sacrifice.
If you mess up, don’t give up.
You’re not perfect. Give yourself some grace. If you chose to fast chocolate and mistakenly (or willingly) had a candy bar, don’t punish yourself. Instead, examine yourself, learn from the failure, pray, and keep going.
My personal challenge is always deciding what to fast. So if you’re like me, here are some ideas to help you.
Fast from certain foods. You may choose to fast a meal each day like lunch or you may choose to fast a specific food or food group (meats, sodas, candy, coffee, bread, etc.).
Fast from media. In recent years some have chosen to fast from social media, television, or even music. Once in college I fasted from listening to Jazz. It was truly challenging because that’s all I listened to at the time.
Fast from habits. Smoking, drinking, cursing, gambling and many other habits can be hard to fast. But the benefits of breaking the stronghold those habits have in our lives can outweigh our temporary discomfort.
I pray your season of lent will be life changing and bring greater meaning to your worship this Easter.