Then he said to them all, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” –Luke 9:23-24
“What did you give up for Lent?” was a common question in the neighborhood where I grew up. The season of Lent had a significant place in the community. Unfortunately, I had no clue about why we did what we did during Lent.
When I got a bit older, I took it upon myself to do a bit of research and came to a better understanding of Lent. Lent is one of the oldest seasons of observation on the Christian calendar. Like most religious holidays and seasons, there have been changes over the centuries on how Lent is observed. Yet, its purpose has always stayed essentially the same: it is a season of self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter. Lent has been observed by believers throughout the centuries as a time dedicated to self-denial, sacrifice, spiritual formation, spiritual discipline, and prayer.
In many traditions, fasting plays a huge role. In history, people were regularly encouraged to fast daily (eating only one meal a day). In other traditions, prayer and confession were the primary focus on the 40-day Lenten journey.
Though Lent is still devoutly observed in some Christian denominations, others hardly mention it at all. However, in our time there is an increased interest in the significance of Lent. Frankly, there cannot be a better emphasis than for all of us to focus on our relationship with Jesus. Lent is a time to get in touch with that part of us that is broken and needs healing. It is a season to be able to openly acknowledge our deep desire for transformation and Christ-likeness.
As you read the following Lenten prayer, make it a part of your inner desire to be more like Jesus.
Lighter of lights — illumine us
Fire of fires — thaw us
Power of powers — strengthen us
Lover of lovers — warm us
Teller of tales — encourage us
Destroyer of darkness — save us
Touchstone of truth — examine us
Summoner of stars — amaze us
Wellspring of wisdom — weather us
Water of life — refresh us
Dancer of days — delight in us
Breath of the universe — bless us
— Ruth Burgess
1. During this season of Lent, focus on the knowledge of your own brokenness, yearning for healing, desire for transformation, and dependence upon Jesus. Reflect on the areas of your life that need transformation.
2. What are those areas in your life that get in the way of you being who Jesus wants you to be?
John 13:1-15; Mark 12:28-34