What is Lent? Is it for Christians?
Lent is typically celebrated in Catholic circles. However, it is a good practice that any Christian would benefit from. It is based on the same principal that our “40 Days of Surrender” Face Book group is based on.
How long is Lent?
Lent lasts 40 days to symbolize the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert after he was baptized by John the Baptist, according to catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2016, Lent begins Wednesday, Feb. 10, known as Ash Wednesday, and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, on March 26. Hey, wait a minute! That’s 46 days! Right. Sundays are not included in the count because Sundays are considered a day of worship and rest. The Catholic church is pretty strict about these particular dates.
However, as a Christian (not a catholic), I am not quite as strict about it. I try to stay close enough to God every day that He can speak to me and I will hear Him. So, if God guides me to take time to fast and pray, I let Him lead. But, it is a good practice to set aside time every so often to seek God intently. I am not saying one way is better than another. I think every believer should listen to God in deciding what is right for them.
What are the Rules for Lent?
Roman Catholics generally refrain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. Eastern Orthodox Christians follow a stricter fasting regime where no meat, eggs or dairy products are allowed. Fish is, however, allowed on Palm Sunday; in 2016, that is March 20th.
Can non-Catholics Observe Lent?
In observation of Lent, many non-catholics have picked up the practice of giving up certain foods. Often their decisions are based on foods that cause them problems like chocolate or sugar. Lent is a time that motivates Christians to give up these foods. Many people can do it as a group. They can encourage one another. They could walk up to complete strangers and have something in common. “What are you giving up for Lent?” “I’m giving up…”
It is also a great way to let your body rest from some addictive foods for 40 days. That gives us time to detox from foods that are unhealthy. Often sugars or chocolate are on the list. Other things are meat, and other animal products, bread, or caffeine.
Do I Have to Give Up Food?
Along with fasting, Christians can also honor Christ by refraining from bad habits during the 40-day period. They give up things like watching television or playing video games. Instead of just abstaining from bad habits, it is great to replace them with good ones, such as reading a passage from the Bible, visiting shut-ins, feeding the homeless, or volunteering at a local shelter.
The Bottom Line on Lent
All in all, giving up bad things and replacing them with good is a great practice. It’s motivating if you can do it in a group. So, whatever your reasons, as long as you are respectful of others’ beliefs, Lent is a fantastic practice.
For more on surrendering to God see:
What are your feelings on Lent? Please share your comments with us.