What IS Lent?

Mar 22, 2024 | Writer's Blog | 0 comments

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12, 13 ESV)

I accepted an assignment to participate in The Lenten Season Devotional series this year. Then I realized I had no idea what Lent really is, what it stands for, or what its significance is to Jesus followers worldwide. I realized I had some homework to do.

Here is what I found:

* Lent is believed to have originated with the earliest Church and consisted of eating only one meal per day for the forty days leading up to Resurrection celebrations.

* In 325 AD, the Nicean Council suggested this period of fasting and prayer was to be practiced mainly by new converts and was to be a time of repentance and reflection in preparation for their baptism on Resurrection Sunday.

* In the 800s, the fast’s strict rules began to relax. By the 1400s, the “one meal a day” restriction was lifted altogether, and the new idea of “giving up something for Lent” began to emerge.

* Lent has become resurgent in recent years among Protestants, who once condemned it as an empty tradition. They recognize that Lent has intrinsic value to the Jesus follower in the days leading up to Holy Week and Easter.

This is the historical backdrop for one of the most powerful traditions in Church history. As such, Lent has all the familiar elements: good intentions, changing priorities and restrictions, falling out of favor, and an eventual resurgence in contemporary Church culture. So I ask myself, “What is the main purpose of Lent? What does it mean to believers today? How can we fully appropriate its benefits?”

Firstly, I believe that the main purpose of Lent is to prepare believers for the highest holy day in our Church calendar: namely Easter. This is the day we will celebrate with believers all over the world the freedom and fellowship that was bought by the precious blood of Jesus. What better way to prepare than to set aside time every day to meditate, pray, fast, and seek the Lord for any revelation He has for us?

Secondly, what does Lent mean to me personally? I agree that it is a time of repentance and reflection, of seeking Father for any revelation He has for me. Fasting is a means of setting aside time that was used for eating to spend time in prayer. By pursuing the Lord in this focused time, I can seek His face, confess and repent of my sins, and receive specific revelation. In confession and repentance is freedom; in receiving His revelation, I gain His direction for my life.

Thirdly, there are many benefits to observing Lent. Meditating on His work on the cross, in Hades, and His resurrection opens our hearts to the fullness of His love for us, for the Lost, for the World. In turn, this grows our compassion for the Lost and our love for our precious Jesus.

The best way to appropriate these benefits is to spend time with Father, Son, and Spirit in a focused way. So how will you answer these questions? How will you apply what you have learned here and the things Father is saying to you right now?

PRAYER: Father, as I invest in time with You, please reveal to me all that You have prepared for me in the Lenten season, all for Your glory. Amen.

~ Cathy Schrock, writer
~ Rhonda Logan-Bailey, photographer

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