Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and we take a look at why is it a foreign word to some Christians?
If you weren’t brought up in a denominational church you may never have celebrated Lent. You may not even know what the word means! Charismatic and Pentecostal believers don’t really talk about it and it’s not something you often hear about on Christian TV. In fact, as our Jewish roots have been restored through our Messianic brothers and sisters, you may be more inclined to participate in the Feasts of Israel, including Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. So what is Lent and why does it matter? And why the emphasis on Lent on GOD TV at the moment?
Firstly let’s look at the question, why is Lent a foreign word to some Christians? This is simply because many interdenominational churches don’t follow a weekly liturgy based on a church calendar. This is due to an historic break with tradition many years go, including the observance of some ‘holy days’. This break may have been valid at the time, but perhaps it’s time to reconsider these days by revisiting their spiritual significance.
So what is Lent and why does it matter?
In traditional, denominational church liturgy Lent is the 40 day period before Easter where church goers give up certain foods, often meat or sweetmeats. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Good Friday, a 40 day season of self-examination and self-denial that is also characterised by giving. All this is commendable and in keeping with Bible teaching and many of us do this anyway, we just don’t give it a name!
“We may not do Lent but we do fast and pray and give!”
Shakespeare said, “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” Lent is a concept that many in the interdenominational churches are beginning to see as important. I’ve heard of Charismatic or Word of Faith leaders going on 40-day fasts although 10-day Daniel fasts are more common. We may not call it Lent, but fasting is just as important in Pentecostal, Charismatic and Word of Faith churches today, as is prayer and giving.
So why is GOD TV focusing on Lent this year in the build-up to Easter?
Like we can learn much from our Messianic brothers and sisters, in rediscovering key truths, we can also learn from fellow believers in the denominational churches. With a new-found focus to bring viewers more local content from the UK, we have met up with some outstanding leaders in the Church of England and other denominations who are helping to restore some Godly traditions that challenge our theology and invite us to fine-tune our focus on God and how we serve Him.
Jesus fasted for 40 days in the Wilderness which forms the scriptural foundation for Lent so it is an entirely Bible-based concept. So we can certainly follow His example to whatever degree we choose to fast and give up something to show God how much we want to be reliant on Him. It doesn’t have to be a full 40-day fast and obviously very few people will attempt to go without food completely. (unless God specifically calls them to do so).
For the traditionalists, I guess participating in Lent does require a 40-day involvement, but I would say you can still pick up now on a fast for Lent even though there are less than 40 days to go until Easter. You can still give up chocolate like many believers are doing, or coffee or social media, or whatever it is that is a significant sacrifice to you. God is more concerned with our hearts than with a particular length of time. Some in denominational churches only fast on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and Good Friday the last day of Lent, and every Friday in between. That’s basically fasting one day a week, and if that is more manageable for you, then start off in this way and perhaps next year you can go the full 40 days!
So, if you haven’t given up something for Lent yet, be challenged to start today and fast something and see how fasting takes you into a season of greater reliance on God and turbo-boosts your prayer life.
Derek Prince was an amazing Bible teacher. He wrote the extraordinary book, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting. I highly recommend it to anyone who is fasting. It is amazing to think that we really can change our personal circumstances, our family difficulties our neighbourhood battles and our national problems; our world in this way.
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As GOD TV challenges us to see this season of Lent as a time of getting closer to God and miraculous breakthrough. Don’t be put off by any seemingly religious jargon. See this as a dedicated time of fasting and prayer and of giving. You don’t have to call it anything if you don’t want to, but don’t miss out on God’s best for you as you seek Him with all your heart.
Often God calls us as believers to sacrifice something and what better way to sacrifice luxuries and treats that we don’t need by giving what we would have spent on them to extending God’s Kingdom by being a media missionary.
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