“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
- Matthew 6:16 - 18
I did not grow up celebrating Lent and it was foreign to me. When I finally did practice Lent for the first time, I used it as a chance to spend time with a 40-day devotional and to break a bad habit with caffeine. I will admit that the first time I was not fully aware of the impact and meaning behind Lent. With every year I practice and commit myself to it, my understanding increases and I begin by not focusing on what food or habit I want to cut out of my life, but to try and comprehend what Lent really is for.
Lent is a time for which we reflect, practice self-discipline, and prepare ourselves as Christian for celebrating and remembering the significance of Easter and the resurrection. It is a time for grieving, refreshing, and renewal as we commit ourselves to letting go of our sinful ways and habits.
The act of fasting and refraining from a habit or an indulgence is to provide us an opportunity to dedicate time, energy, and attention to our relationship with Christ. In a small but significant way, it lets us experience the 40 days and 40 nights where Jesus was in the desert, fasting and was being tempted. It reminds us to stand firm and hold strongly to our faith even in the face of challenges and temptation.
Lent is something we do quietly as an intimate quiet time with God. It is to be spent in prayer, in practicing restraint and diligence, and in giving and doing God's work. The quoted passage reminds us to not let the act of fasting be a spectacle. We are not practicing Lent for the world to see nor is it to be used to boost our image. Instead, it is an important time to turn our focus to God and let the spirit rejuvenate us.
Reflection: What does practicing Lent mean to you? What is God asking you to do or refrain from for 40 days during this period of fasting?
As you explore the worship music on our various Christian music channels, consider reading this week's devotional study to help deepen your faith. On Ash Wednesday, we will look to the meaning of Lent and encourage you to use this time for prayer and reflection as you consider forms of fasting over the next 40 days.