The season of Lent for many years was described as a season of repentance and fasting. Many folks who may know little about Lent know of the practice of fasting from someone asking, “What did you give up for Lent?” Lent is this time of our Christian year when we are challenged to do with less, to return to simplicity and reflect on our lives, repenting of our failures, sin, and shortcomings.
Fasting plays a large part in this equation. When we hear of this practice of fasting, any number of thoughts can come to mind. Fasting is largely misunderstood and too often neglected in our faith communities. Fasting is a conscious decision to abstain from eating certain foods for a period of time. This seems to be understood. Where I find many people missing the point is when it comes to the purpose of holding a fast.
Fasting is not about earning God’s favor, or turning up the heat on our prayers, or attempting to gain something from God by neglecting food (or worse, losing weight). Fasting is not a means of gaining attention; fasting is a sorrowful response.
As we survey the Bible and look at fasting throughout, by and large we see fasting as a response to a new calling, tragedy, sin, or loss. Fasting is most often paired with repentance. Fasting is a physical demonstration of a person’s serious desire to seek a new direction, a change of mind, and a transformation of heart.
Lent is a time for fasting. A time when we reflect and are sorrowful over our sin. A time when we demonstrate our sorrow by acknowledging it in the confession of our sin and by our practice of a fast. Will you keep a blessed Lent? Will you enter a fast?