Lent: Five Ways to Find Joy and Peace While Fasting
Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Paschal Week (Easter). It is a reflection of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness. The reason Christians do this is simple. Because Jesus did.
The Lenten Season is often connected with personal sacrifice - giving something up. Traditionally, Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical Christians choose some form of food to stop eating during the Lenten Fast. Proceeded by Fat Tuesday, Lent is meant to be a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal.
It is easy to focus on what we are giving up, making it easy to get frustrated and give up. Instead, focus on what we gain, and the journey becomes filled with joy.
Tip #1 - Letting Go
This isn't just about letting go of meat, leaven, or (YIKES!) coffee. Those things merely serve to allow observants the chance to repeat the fast of Christ in the wilderness. Letting go of resentment fears, unforgiveness, divisive words, and behavior actually brings relief and frees our spirit to receive the Joy of our Salvation
Tip #2 - Connect Deeply
Try letting go of distractions that are taking time away from God. A little less screen time and a bit more Scripture time can do a world of good. Disconnect from everything that brings you down so the Holy Spirit can lift you up. When we humbly accept that we need God's help with our spiritual journey, our loving Father gladly provides. Reading your Bible each day can genuinely transform our minds.
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." 1 Pet 5:6-7
Tip #3 - Share The Word with Others
As we take the time to go deeper into the Word, new insights may come. While some of these are meant for personal growth, sharing the Good News with other believers and even non-believers can make a big difference in their lives and our own.
Tip #4 - Pray Your Contact List for 2 minutes per Person
How do you pray for hours? By letting go of ourselves. The fastest way I have found to switch gears is to open my phone (no cheating and looking at apps!) and pray for people on my contact list. Maybe there are people that I haven't reached out to in a while, or maybe, just maybe, there might be some ill will, bad feelings, or a parting that was less than peaceful.
If the person you see is a close friend or loved one, give thanks! An attitude of gratitude fills the heart with joy.
If things didn't go well, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into finding good things to say about that person, and then pray for changes in your heart. It is essential to understand that there are some abusive, hurtful, and damaging relationships out there, and it is okay to let go of these. Staying in unhealthy relationships can damage our relationship with God and others. Releasing them to the Lord is part of the Letting Go process.
If the person is struggling, take a moment to carry their burdens to the Lord. It is easy to say, "we'll pray for you," and even easier to forget to do it.
Tip #5 - Renew
Springtime and Lent are all about renewal. The Paschal Season brings new life, and restores our relationship with God and each other. If going through your list of people has brought some friends or loved ones to your heart, take time to send a little message of encouragement.
Don’t Overdo It!
KISS: Keep It Simple Saints! Choosing something that we eat or drink to give up reminds us to keep what comes out of our mouths under control as we gain control of what goes in. Surrendering time to God can be as easy as a few minutes less of video games or streaming. Just make sure to keep it simple. After all, Jesus already made the sacrifice so we could enjoy the life he gave us. Lent is about letting go of the things that drain that joy and embracing the new blessings we are promised daily, not just during Lent.