Lent: A Season for Sacrifice, Repentance & Prayer

Forty days. 

The flood lasted for forty days (Genesis 7:4).  Moses fled Egypt for forty years (Acts 7:30).  Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai for forty days to receive the commandments (Exodus 24:18).  The Exodus of the Israelites roaming in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land lasted forty years (Numbers 32:13).  The Spies were sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan (promised to the children of Israel) for forty days (Numbers 13:2, 25).  Goliath challenged the Israelites twice a day for forty days before David defeated him (1 Samuel 17:16). Before Jesus ever began His public ministry, He went into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights to pray and fast (Matthew 4:1-2).  Human gestation is forty weeks. Even the Latin root for “quarantine” is forty. And the period from Jesus’ resurrection to His ascension was forty days (Acts 1:3).

Why is “forty” significant?  

It represents change. It is a time of preparing a person or a people to make an absolute and fundamental transformation.

As Christians, we honor the journey that Jesus took to the cross by celebrating Lent, a period of forty days beginning today, “Ash Wednesday” and ending on Easter Sunday.  We know that Jesus triumphed over death through His resurrection, but He endured great sorrow and suffering as He willfully gave His life away on the cross.  

This Easter season, let’s begin a journey of change…to prepare, focus, and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave — His life.

As we begin our season of Lent, let’s explore the parts of our lives and our behaviors that need an absolute and fundamental transformation.  A focused time of submitting thoughts and behaviors that need to look more like Jesus and less like us.  

FASTING: WE DO WITHOUT…TO LIVE WITH GOD.

Ideas and Purpose of Fasting:

Fasting for Beginners

Should I fast?

Even though the Bible does not give an outright command to fast, Jesus clearly expects us to.

“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16-18, NLT

Fasting is not an option for believers.  It’s a “when you fastNOT an “if we fast” statement.  This imperative statement implies that fasting is something we WILL do at some point in our walk with the Lord.

“Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ.” 

David Mathis, desiringgod.org

What should I fast? 

Take some time to pray about what would be spiritually beneficial in your life. Ask God to give you direction as to what you should put aside over the next  6 ½ weeks.

Ideas:

  • One meal a day
  • Social Media
  • Media (tv, movies, shows)
  • Liquid fast (smoothies, juices, shakes)
  • Fasting one day a week 
  • Spending money (frivolous or unnecessary spending) — This might mean for a set time, you won’t buy any new clothes, groceries except staple necessities, you won’t dine out, and you won’t make any entertainment purchases.   
  • Anything that you tend to run towards on a regular basis for entertainment, comfort, etc. 
  • You can also choose a different focus each week, but be sure to make your plan at the beginning of the 40 days. 

How should I fast?

Regardless of what the Lord is asking you to abstain from, sacrifice, or completely give up, the act of fasting cannot be done without intentionally praying through the process.

If you’re fasting food without prayer, then it’s just a glorified diet.

If you’re fasting social media without prayer, then it’s just a nice way to clear the clutter from your day.

The Power of UNITY in Prayer: 

Throughout Scripture, God has always heard the cries of His people.  Wherever they were, He saw them, met them in their situation, and heard their prayer.  Because He is God and cannot change (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6), this still holds true today.  Prayer has always been the heavenly language we use to communicate with God.  The moment immediately after Jesus’ death on the cross, the veil that separated the people from the Holy of Holies was torn in two — top from bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38).  In that moment, we were given complete access to come boldly before the throne room of grace.  We no longer needed an intermediary, priest, or pastor to intercede on our behalf. 

Through Jesus’ death on the cross, He extended an invitation for us to go directly to our Heavenly Father in prayer.  Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Prayer moves the heart of our Father, allows us to intercede on the behalf of others, and is the two-way communication we use to speak to, and hear from, the Lord.  There is power in our prayer — and when we are united together with other believers, our Mighty God is in our midst.

“I also tell you this- if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”

Matthew 18:19

“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”

Amos 3:3 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:20

This is a season to enter a purposeful time of repentance, fasting, giving, and prayer.

At the end of this forty days, I hope you are forever changed.  

40 Day Devotional Suggestions:

  1. “Draw the Circle” Mark Batterson
  1. “Driven By Eternity” John Bevere
  2. YouVersion Bible App Plans:
  3. Reading for the Kids:
  4. Additional Resources:

What will YOU fast to grow closer with the Lord? How will YOU be transformed at the end of our 40-day journey?

Special Thanks to: Jess Hammond & Heather Gavlak for content contribution.

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