The Lenten season is an ancient Christian practice. Originating in the 4th Century AD. It is traditionally a time of spiritual reflection, emphasizing prayer, confession, fasting, and meditation on God’s Word.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on the Saturday of Holy Week. It covers a period of just over six weeks leading up to Easter. Traditionally, the Sundays of this period are Celebration days, and are not counted as part of the 40 days.
Why 40 days? When Jesus came up out of the water of baptism, Scripture says: “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days…” (Mark 1:12-13a, NIV). During this time of spiritual preparation, he fasted and prayed, getting ready to do the work his Father had planned for him. We set aside this time to pursue a closer walk with our Heavenly Father.
What should I do? Some people choose to fast from a particular food or drink. Others a whole meal each day. Instead of eating, they devote themselves to prayer and time in God’s Word. Others give up watching TV, or the use of the internet, or social media. Some will commit themselves to daily acts of service and doing good for others. I would invite you to read the following devotionals and seek a more intimate walk with God.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (vv. 1, 2, 10-12)
The Lenten season traditionally begins with a season of confession and repentance. As we read this prayer, we need to lay our life out before God. We need to speak these words back to him, confessing this truth: He knows us inside and out.
When I was growing up in College Place, Washington, my friends and I had a “hideout”. It was really an overgrown brier patch. We found we could hide away there. We knew NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY SEE US! So, we made our plans to rule the world. We talked about things we could never talk about in front of our parents. We thought we were invisible. Then, one day, returning home from a long day of play (and hiding), my parents informed me I could no longer hide in our “hideout”, and, to make matters worse, I was disciplined for some of our “secret” conversations. How did they know, how could they know? Their answer: “We just know!”
Then, my parents told me more: “God knows what you do in there! He sees and hears all of it! Nothing is hidden from him!” That was an important lesson for me. This was a lesson David had to learn, too. Today, we confess our sin and our failures; and with David, we pray, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me!”