A few years ago I felt a tug in my heart to learn more about the Season of Lent and decided to observe Lent with a small group of friends. During that time I spent many hours researching the meaning and significance of Lent and ended up compiling scripture and related information from multiple sources to create daily emails for our group. It became one of the most significant times of spiritual growth for me personally and my relationship with God became more precious to me than it had ever been. The next year we invited the others to sign up for the daily emails and as word spread the email list grew to over 800. I saved the content of the emails and created a document so it could be used as a devotional. This is the devotional I’ll be walking through with you this year!
Lent is the 40-day season leading up to Easter and is intended to deepen our focus on Christ as we prepare to celebrate His death and resurrection. This rich Christian tradition is a unique opportunity to spend intimate time with Christ and for profound spiritual growth. It can be helpful to think of Lent as a time for our annual heart exam. In the Bible, the heart is the core of the person, from which flow thoughts, feelings, and decisions. The prophet Joel cries out to us, “Rend your hearts.” In other words, Joel is imploring us to tear off the tough outer skin, the rind that prevents God from penetrating and entering our hearts to convey the thoughts, desires, and plans of God. Turning to God with our whole heart means becoming totally open to God’s will. The observance of Lent includes three practices that are healthy heart exercises: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (or acts of kindness). The true movement of Lent is from being self-serving to self-giving, from talking about being hungry for God to satisfying that hunger by dedicating more time to prayer, and by serving God through helping those in need.
One of the purposes of fasting (choosing something to give up) during Lent is to help us remember the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. The goal is not to just give something up, but to replace it with a deeper focus on God’s Word and to allow us more time in prayer. Please do not be legalistic about it – if we focus too much on what we are going to do or not do, we risk missing out on the gift God wants to give us.
I feel a great sense of anticipation for all God will accomplish in us during these next six weeks. May you be richly blessed as you turn to God with your entire heart and may your hunger to know Him more intimately continue to grow stronger each and every day.