The question comes up at this time of year, “Should I practice Lent?” Since it has never been my practice, I did some reading on the subject.
Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God. It is a period of 40 days before Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday (February 10) and ending on Easter Sunday (March 27).
Before entering into such a practice, let me encourage you to do your own research. Here are a collection of articles on the subject.
Positive reasons to observe Lent
“Why all Christians should observe Lent” by Ann Swindell
Negative reasons to avoid Lent
“Why I don’t practice Lent” by Kristi Stoughton (Kristi spoke at our women’s retreat this past year)
“Lent and why I don’t” by Pastor Mike Fabarez
“Protestants don’t celebrate Ash Wednesday, or Lent. We are Protestant for a reason” by Timothy J. Hammons
“Should you and your family observe Lent?” by Micah Fries
“40 things to give up for Lent–The list” by Phil Ressler. The author lists things to give up not just for Lent, but for the rest of your life.
From a personal standpoint, I do not practice Lent, nor do I encourage the practice. Rather than a 40 day spiritual pilgrimage that begins with excess, Mardi Gras, and ends with celebration, Scripture indicates that sacrifice and self-denial are to be the theme and pattern of our lives every day. It is part of what it means to be a Christ follower. As Jesus explains in Mark 8:34,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
While it is commendable to devote 40 days to knowing God better, isn’t that what we are called to do each and every day of our lives?
Colossians 1:9–10 – And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.