Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and marked the beginning of the season of Lent. But what is Lent? And why do we honor this season?

Lent is the 40 days (excluding Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. It is a season of repentance and reflection, of turning toward the Cross and fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Each year during NightLife, we discuss 3 specific ways we can participate in Lent.

1. Giving something up: fasting from something that is a regular part of our life in hopes of reminding ourselves daily of our need to repent and rely on Christ
2. Taking something on: adding something to our daily lives that will deepen our relationship with Jesus through spiritual growth
3. Being mission minded: being focused on seeing our everyday world as a mission field in need of Christ’s love and grace AND challenging ourselves to serve our community with intention

So, how do we choose what to do during this season if we want to participate?  There is no magic formula to choose the “right” thing.  But here are some questions to ask to help us discern what God might be calling us to during Lent.

  • What is distracting me from my relationship with Jesus?
  • Where might I need to grow spiritually?
  • What have I neglected in my life that needs attention?
  • Where do I see need a in my community?
  • How can I invest deeply in my faith?
  • What is a daily practice that would influence my relationship with God?
  • How can I become more aware of the Holy Spirit each day?

Most importantly, let’s pray about what God might be challenging us to do during this season.  And then ask ourselves why?

If I feel lead to give up sweets, why?

If I feel lead to take up a new quiet time practice, why?

If I feel lead to give financial support to a ministry or cause, why?

The answers may seem obvious, but it’s important to pray about the answers, all the same.  Often times in my own life, God has used seemingly simple things to challenge and grow me the most.

Psalm 51 is a beautiful psalm that is especially relevant during Lent.  Verses 10-12 say:

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

This is our hope for the season of Lent – that by giving up or taking on or focusing on serving others, God might create clean and pure hearts within us all.  That His Spirit might renew us and that we might become more aware of His presence. That we might draw near to Jesus and become more like Him each day.