The season of Lent is upon us. In fact, Lent begins today, Feb. 17, which is known as Ash Wednesday, the day commonly celebrated by the church, by and large, as the beginning of the season of Lent.
But what is Lent? Before we say it is a faith practice of what Catholics, Orthodox, and other high church traditions do, we must correct ourselves and know that this is not just a high church faith practice, but is an ecumenical Christian practice that dates back to the very early A.D. centuries. It was formally recognized as an official season during the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, which was also when what we now call the New Testament was officially brought together, made canon and given the special status of Holy Scripture. That means Lent was Lent before any denominations, traditions, and even the New Testament were officially formed. Therefore, it is a Christian practice.
What is Lent though? Lent, in particular, is a season of the preparation of our hearts for Easter. How the church has practiced this season of preparation has changed over time, but no matter how it has changed, fasting has always been a central and core aspect for this preparation.
This is a reflection, and imitation, of the 40 days of fasting Jesus underwent in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. During Lent we join in this practice of fasting with Jesus from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. We fast because Jesus fasted. We fast because there is much to be learned from this faith practice. We fast to take away power from the things in our lives that deserve no power over us, and to give this power back to Christ. In this, we may fast from more than just food.
Not that there’s anything wrong with fasting from food. We as Americans would surely do well to take away the power our stomachs hold over us and give it back to Christ, but there are so many more things we would benefit from by fasting. Things like social media. Things like Netflix and other streaming services. Things like video games. Whatever it may be, when we see something that holds our attention in a way only God should, we should fast from it.
Not only should we fast from things. When fasting, we should practice replacing that which once pulled our attention from God with something that draws us closer to God. For example, this Lenten season I plan to fast from games on my phone. I find I play way too many games in my down time here and there, and I end up wasting so much time to do just one more puzzle, one more level, one more turn. Therefore, I have uninstalled these games and I have committed to reading five Psalms a day along with a chapter of Proverbs every day during those down times here and there in my day.
With this being said. How would God have you participate in this time-honored tradition of fasting during the season of Lent? What would He have you fast from that is controlling your life? What would He have you do to give control back to Him over your life? How would He have you prepare for His coming death and resurrection on your behalf, providing a way for you to have forgiveness, life, and a reconciled relationship with Him forevermore?
Brandon Zoll is pastor of the Church of God of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2631. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.