Today is Ash Wednesday, traditionally the first day of Lent. For me, Lent is about a spirit of gratitude for what God has done for me through His son Jesus Christ. The blessings that God affords us when we are devoted to Christ are so abundant. We gain hope that we will live forever, we are granted the forgiveness of sins, we have access to God through prayer and through His Word, and we have the hope of salvation and a place with Jesus in His kingdom in the life to come. None of this should be taken for granted.
During the Lenten season we remember the time when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. We are told in Matthew 4 that Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before being tempted to rebel against God by the devil. So during lent we can think about the temptations that exist in our own lives, and we can commit to fasting – giving up some of our addictions – in order to focus more on our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Fasting is a personal thing between a person and God. We can prepare for fasting with prayer, asking God to place on our hearts the specific sacrifices we are to make during the Lenten season. Fasting is not something to show off about; indeed the Bible criticises any public display of fasting, which should really be done in secret (see Matthew 6:16-18).
My challenge to you if you are not a practising Christian is to dedicate some time during Lent to reading the Bible and exploring what God has to say about humility and sacrifice. Maybe try giving up one of your addictions for Lent (tea, coffee, smoking, sugar, meat, sex, etc), but don’t do it so you can boast about it, do it to draw closer to God. In the Bible prayer and fasting go together, so use this season to be prayerful and thankful for all that God has blessed you with. Reach out to God and He will hear you; as Jesus said, “knock and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
If you don’t have a Bible but are interested to learn more about Christianity, there is a brilliant app available – just go to the app store and search ‘Bible’ – it’s the first app that appears (the picture is of a brown Bible with the words ‘Holy Bible’ on it). If you don’t have access to the app, or would prefer a paper Bible, you can buy one on Amazon or feel free to contact me and I will buy you one as a gift.
May God bless you over the Lenten season!