What does Lent Mean? Lent originally meant spring and designates the 40 days prior to Jesus' Resurrection at Easter. We are called to do several things during Lent. Give of ourselves in order to be closer to God. Get rid of practices that turn us away from God's love, and clean up our lives in order to be closer to Jesus at His Resurrection. Why do we get Ashes on our forehead? There are many reasons, I think the most important thing to remember about Ash Wednesday is that we are sinners and the sign of ashes reminds us that we are sorry for our sins and must sincerely seek forgiveness. This quote from Daniel 9:3-6 sums it up well. It is not about wearing our faith quite literally on our foreheads, but a chance to remember our reason for being, give glory back to God, and turn towards him in our imperfect state with a desire to do better.
What shall I do this Lent? We are asked to do three Lenten practices:
Prayer means growing closer to God by communicating with him. We bring him our worries and desires. We ask for forgiveness for our sins (the times we have turned away form God's will in our lives) and point our lives back to God. Try different forms of prayer. Pray more often. Pray with a Bible. Try opening the Bible to a page and putting your finger on a passage. Read that passage and take time to reflect on it. Write your thoughts down to remember later. This leads us to a deeper relationship with Christ, his sacrifice, and his mission of love. Use Pray model each time you pray. P=praise God for the good things he has given you. R=repent and ask for forgiveness for the things you have done wrong. A=ask for others; state your intentions and prayers for the sake of others. Y= yourself; ask for petitions for which you seek God's answer.
Fasting is doing without, or simplifying our lives by taking out the things that are clouding our vision of Christ and His Resurrection. This practice also helps us understand how much Jesus gave up for us through His passion and death on the cross. Try to give up something each week that will really mean something to you. Each time you want to do that activity or eat that food, say a prayer. Talk to God and ask him to enter your struggle. Giving something up makes room for God to put something amazing in its place. The things we give up are not meant to show how holy we are because we can endure without. It means humbling ourselves to give glory to God. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 we are reminded by Jesus that we should not call attention to our suffering. We must be humble and lift up our suffering to God in order that he may enter our hearts and lives.
There are extensive lists online, some of them funny and some are more serious. I like the one from Life Teen I will share at the end of this post.
Almsgiving. We are called to give of ourselves during the Lent season. This is not just the ordinary practice of giving our money (treasure) but our time and talent as well. We practice giving of ourselves to bring joy and life to others. We "fill up" With something good." Volunteer at a food kitchen. Watch a younger brother or sister without being asked. Devote your time to a friend in need.
Where is all this leading us? We take time during the season of Lent to ask forgiveness for our sins, get rid of the things that keep us from God and to begin practicing ways that lead us to God. There is joy from being a part of God's kingdom come to earth! Praise God during Lent, Remember, God kicks ash!
LifeTeen blogs about Lent to check out: