Did you know that this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday? This marks the start of the 40 days of Lent, which is a time of preparing ourselves for Easter. It is an opportunity for us to slow down and reflect on our lives and our relationship with the Lord. I have never gone to a church that practices all aspects of Lent. But as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the way that Lent helps me repent, refocus, and respond. Let’s make these 40 days a rewarding experience!
Prayer is an essential part of preparing for the Easter season. It is a time to connect with our loving Father and do a heart check. God sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of all our sins- past, present, and future. This is the purpose of Easter. It is so important that we keep the need for our daily forgiveness at the forefront of our minds. Not so we can feel guilt and shame, but instead to be forgiven and set free from sin’s hold on us.
During the next 40 days I encourage you to spend a few moments each day in prayer talking with the Lord. Ask for forgiveness for any known sins for the day. Then ask the Lord to reveal any unknown sin that you should seek forgiveness for. Creating a daily habit of seeking and repenting will allow you to walk in all the freedom, peace, and joy that God has for you.
Fasting is another major part of preparing for Easter. Fasting can be done in so many different ways. The purpose of fasting is to decrease or go without something so that you can increase your focus on God. The process of fasting reminds us of our constant need for God. It can also help us to remember that God is our source. Not food, electronics, sports, or even friends and family.
During our time of fasting we can refocus our thoughts to be in alignment with God. We can examine our priorities and make sure they line up with how God would have us spend our time, energy and money. When my husband runs he asks God, “What do you have for me today?” This is a great question to ask ourselves each morning to make sure our focus is the same as God’s.
As you spend time with the Lord, He may reveal something He wants you to do. Then you have a choice whether or not you want to walk in obedience or not. God wants an intimate relationship with you. He wants to know you, and He wants you to know Him. This brings Him great joy. But God doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to invite you into the epic story He is writing.
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commands us to “go and make disciples and teach them to obey all the commands I have given you. In Matthew 25:34-46 Jesus said that when we serve others we serve Him. James 2:14-26 points out that our faith should compel us to do good works. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. As you spend time with the Lord during the 40 days of Lent ask Him how you can serve those around you. Then make a plan to actually do it.
If you take the time to repent, refocus and respond to the Lord you will experience 40 days like no other period of time in your life. Your relationship with the Lord will be strengthened and will become more intimate with Him. Your ears will be more attuned to His voice. Your eyes will see things from His perspective. Your heart will be at peace and be filled with joy knowing God’s got you and He is in control.
40 days is longer than the “magical” 21 days it takes to form a habit*. So if you make the sacrifice to purposefully spend time with Him you will be well on your way to creating a habit that will have eternal effects on your life and on the lives of those around you. This is quite a reward! Will this be the year you prioritize your relationship with the Lord in a new and focused way?
*Ok, there’s no magical number of days. But the point is that most habits take between 2 weeks and 2 months to really solidify, and Lent will get you a good start to a new habit.
Check out our 40 Day Devotional that will help you prepare your heart for Easter. Each day has a verse, reflection questions, a prayer, and other verses to ponder. These Scriptures are taken from Jesus’ last words to His disciples on the night of the Last Supper, and they will help you to lean in and listen to His voice as He prepares for his death and resurrection. Join us!