The 40 days leading up to Easter are called Lent. Growing up, I thought that Lent was something my Catholic relatives did where they didn’t eat meat on Fridays. I never really understood why it was an important tradition and never really asked. I just figured that I wasn’t Catholic, so it didn’t apply to me.
Then a friend of mine from high school said that they were giving up Facebook for Lent, and I was like, “Uh, you’re not Catholic; why are you doing Lent?” This opened my mind to learn more about what Lent really is and how I can deepen my relationship with God.
The Number 40
The word Lent actually comes from a word meaning “spring.” It’s a time of reflection, focusing on who God is and how He showed His love by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. The 40 Days of Lent reminds us of other times in the Bible where the number 40 is used:
- 40 years the Jews wandered in the wilderness
- 40 days given to Ninevah
- 40 days that Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law
- 40 days Jesus was in the wilderness facing temptation from Satan
- 40 days Jesus was with his disciples after the resurrection
What to do during Lent
The Bible does not come out and give you specific orders that you must do or not do during Lent. Focus on taking time for personal reflection and repentance and let God guide you through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to convict you of an area you need to change.
Is there something in your life taking up too much time or energy and preventing you from spending time in prayer or reading the Word? Remove it from your life. I’ve seen people remove social media for that reason.
Are you spending too much money on your morning coffee or eating lunch out instead of giving to others who could use a financial blessing? Give it to your church or a reputable charity. Or even give directly to a family you know who is struggling -no strings attached.
Are you struggling with being content with what you have and find yourself being envious of people around you? Focus on counting your blessings. Start a gratitude journal like my monthly prompts here.
40 Days of Psalms
Something I started doing a couple years ago is taking the 40 days of Lent to read through the Book of Psalms. It’s amazing how easy it is to relate to the writers 3,000+ years ago! I might not have a King trying to kill me or anything like that, but I have certainly faced different trials in my life. And there are times when I wonder why God is allowing me to go through hard times.
Reading David’s cries have helped me to realize that God doesn’t want zombie believers who do things only because it’s what we think we’re supposed to do. I’ve learned that God wants my heart. He wants me to share my joys and hurts with Him. He wants me to acknowledge my pain and rely on Him for comfort. He wants to give us strength where we are weak. It’s more than just religion; it’s a relationship.
I invite you to join me this year as a I read through the Psalms. It’s 150 chapters, many of which are short and one that is long, but very doable. The 40 Days of Lent does not include Sundays. Use those days as a make-up day if you had trouble finishing your week or as a day of rest to reflect on what you’ve learned in Psalms or from your message at church that day.
Lent 2019 starts on March 6th
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