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Fasting, Prayer, and a Holy Lent

Fasting, Prayer, and a Holy Lent

Fasting is a regular part of Lenten practice and the practice most associated with Lent, but it is often misunderstood. Fasting is neither for penitence nor to earn God’s love or salvation. 

Penitence is being sorrowful for sins, or the act of paying for sins through self-imposed suffering. It is not necessary to pay for sins, since Christ has done that once and for all on the cross. And while being sorrowful is a reason for fasting, it is not the primary one for fasting during Lent. During this season we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, getting our hearts right before God. Penitence is a part of that process, as you will hear in the services during this season. It is paired with fasting, a discipline for the training of the heart and mind.

Fasting is meant to focus the mind and heart of the believer on God, on reliance on his grace and provision. In most of world history, fasting provided a break from the constant provision and preparation of food and allowed more time to center on God. It also offers a clarity of mind that comes after the initial reflex of hunger has passed. It was a method of drawing closer, not simply suffering for suffering’s sake. 

If you are sorry for your sins, repent, return to the Lord, and amend your life. If you wish to draw close to God who loves you, fast and pray, setting aside a day or so a week or giving up something that takes your time and attention from God.

But it is vitally important to restate, God already loves you and knows you. God will forgive you because you are penitent, not because you suffer outwardly. There are times when we find it necessary to do more than simply say that we are sorry. We show it through actions, which may include fasting, but really should include some form of retribution, paying back what is owed or seeking to undo what damage we can. But again, because of the nature of our sins against God, i.e. failing to live as he made us to live or love as we are called to love like God, we cannot simply pay back such a missing the mark, except by beginning again. 

So make this Lent a blessed one by beginning again to love anew, live deeply, and do the good that is of God. You already belong to God who, because of Christ, is your heavenly Father. You already have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, working through you, and teaching you all that Christ commanded. Forgive and be forgiven and charge forward in faith. If you do not yet belong to God, this is the time to choose. Come see your clergy about baptism, membership, confirmation and reception. Make this your home as you make Christ your Lord.

Join us in a blessed Lent as we prepare for the celebration of our salvation in Christ.