“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13
Next week, Christians around the world will be celebrating Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Lent takes place over the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays), and is traditionally a time of repentance and preparation for the celebration of Easter.
The goal of the Lenten season is to draw closer to God. There are many traditions surrounding this season, but whatever you do, it’s great to start by reflecting on your life, and the parts of your life where you feel disconnected from God and his people.
For example, you may have heard about people giving something up for Lent—often things that bring pleasure, like sweets, alcohol or tv. When I was in college, I tried to give up sugar for Lent. It didn’t last long (I have an epic sweet tooth), and one of the reasons I did it is that I was hoping to lose a few pounds. It didn’t have much to do with my relationship to Jesus!
If you plan to give up something, I encourage you to take a different approach. If you are giving something up, do it as an intentional act of worship and sacrifice to God. This year, I am going to try to put away my phone when I get up in the morning, and take that time for intentional prayer. We will see if it is more meaningful than my ineffective sugar fast!
Giving something up is just one way to observe Lent. Maybe, like me, you hope to add something in to your life—a time of prayer, or Bible reading. Some believers take these forty days to read through one of the gospels. Another way of observing Lent is through giving—time, money, or talents. Again, your goal should be to see this an act of worship and sacrifice, not just as a good thing to do.
If you’d like to learn more about Lent, CRU has a great guide here.
If you are looking for a daily plan to reading through the gospels, Bible Gateway has an easy to use guide here.
And of course, the Words of Hope Daily Devotional is always here to support you in your daily devotional time. Our Easter series will start on April 1, with Signs and Wonders: Jesus in the Book of John, written by our President, Rev. Jon Opgenorth.
However you observe this season, we hope that Lent will be a time of growing relationship to Christ.
About the Author
Christy Prins is the managing editor of the Words of Hope Daily Devotional. When Christy isn't reading devotional submissions, she's busy working in the garden, reading, and playing with her kids.