The season of Lent consists of the forty days (minus Sundays) before Resurrection Sunday. Lent is a time of examining our hearts toward God, and of fasting or abstaining from something in order to give more of ourselves to Christ. The days of Lent also remind us of the time in which Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and was tempted by the devil.
Examining Our Hearts
Giving God more of ourselves should always be part of our relationship with Him; however, Lent is an ideal time to examine our hearts regarding our pursuit of God. One way to do this is through the Examen Prayer, which can be used as a daily guide either as you begin or end your day.
We can also begin by asking ourselves a few of the questions below, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in answering them. These questions can include:
- Am I putting God first in my life, or simply trying to fit Him in?
- Is there anything in my life that is or has the potential to distract me from God and living for Him?
- Is there anything in my life that has a hold on me other than or above God and His will?
As we face the truth of our hearts and repent where necessary, we experience greater life in God. In the next section, you’ll find some helpful thoughts related to the last two questions.
All of us hunger for God, but sometimes we try to fill that neediness with other things. At times these things can get a hold on us above God. They can not only hinder our relationship with God but other areas of our lives as well.
This list can even include good and neutral things in addition to things that are damaging for our lives. Examples include hobbies, social media, addictions, emotional eating, desctructive or negative thinking, busyness and so forth. Fasting can help break the cycle.
The most important aspect of fasting is not fasting itself, but making room in your heart and life to give more of yourself to Christ. When we fast, we abstain from something and instead are freed to give that time and energy back to God.
We can give an additional “yes” to God by saying “no” to something else. Fasting in this way reveals another the life-giving aspect of Lent. (Note: You can fast in any season, so if you feel God leading you another time, don’t hesitate to follow His leading.)
Key Question: What is hindering you in your connection to God?
Giving More of Ourselves to God
Below are suggestions for giving more time to God in a focused way, all with the aim to connect with Him more.
- Focus more intentionally on one or more of the spiritual disciplines. Examples include scheduling daily time for solitude, serving the less fortunate, planning a regular time of asking God’s Spirit to search your heart and confessing any revealed sins or failures to God, etc.
- Plan an extra weekly time for worship and prayer. This could be alone or with a group.
- Plan for more time in the Bible to study and meditate on God’s Word. Lectio Divina and inductive Bible study are good ways to do this. You could also read and study on a chapter of one of the Gospels each day, memorize specific verses, or begin a Bible study related what you are fasting, or to reconnect your heart to the depths of what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross.
- Have a daily or weekly stroll in nature just to converse with God.
- Schedule an hour each day to rest. We all need rest from the labors of work in this earthly life or a day each week for rest and family only. Sometimes lack of adequate rest hinders our capacity for meeting with God daily.
If you already spend time with God on a regular basis, you could use one of the above suggestions or seek God for another idea. If you aren’t consistently giving time to God, this is a good time to be intentional about cultivating your devotional life. Set a daily appointment with God and keep it! The time we spend with God is always life-giving.
Remember: More than anything, our goal is to connect with God and give Him first place in our lives so that we are giving more of ourselves to Christ.
We want our motivation to be because He loves us and because we know our need for God is greater than anything else. We can’t earn things from Him by our actions, but we can position our hearts and turn our attention to hearing and connecting with Him.
During this Lenten season, I pray you will experience His presence tangibly, growing in devotion, love and obedience to Christ daily.