It's the first day of Lent! If you are like me you may have grown up not knowing a lot about Lent. It wasn't mentioned in my home or in the churches we attended and I didn't know much about it. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until the Saturday of Easter weekend. It's a total of 46 days but fasting is only required for 40 of them as many people don't fast on the Sundays. The purpose of Lent is to prepare believers for Easter through self-denial, repentance of sin and prayer. Really that is what all fasting is and should be. Removing a distraction or something from our lives for period in order to make more time for God.
Fasting wasn't something that I knew much about until I got older. It was something I knew people did in the Bible but not something that I saw a lot of around me. It wasn't until I started to hang around a few people who went to Catholic churches that I even heard about Lent. They knew that I was a Christian and they asked me what I was fasting from for Lent and my response was, "Huh?" I didn't even know what Lent was never mind what I was going to fast from for it. Fasting was something I had maybe tried once or twice in my life and I usually ended up giving up on it. It was uncomfortable and I didn't like feeling uncomfortable. But when you look at the Bible and the examples of those who fasted it's hard to make an excuse for not fasting yourself. If the Son of God fasted who am I to say I won't? And if I want to be more like Jesus than I need to start looking at the things He did to draw closer to God. Fasting was one of those things.
Personally I think Lent is a good thing and over the years I have made it something that I take part in. You can fast from anything and before I fast I often ask myself a few questions.
1. What is my greatest distraction from God?
2. What takes up a lot or too much of my time?
3. What would be a sacrifice?
One year I gave up Dairy. I love all things Dairy and that was a hard one for me. Last year I gave up TV, movies, and any type of video clips on the internet (you know, like cat videos on Facebook ;). Every time I've given up something for Lent I have been glad I did. I personally believe that self denial is an important thing for followers of Jesus to practice because we live in a world that teaches the opposite. If we are to live lives pointing to Jesus we need to be living lives that are different. I believe fasting is a great way to take steps to seeing what we have placed to much importance on and what should really be mattering to us.
I encourage you to consider fasting for Lent this year. Denying yourself to make more room for God is always worth it :).