Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Wednesday, March 2, Morning – Ash Wednesday

By Dwight Wade

The Gift of 40 Days

Read Matthew 4:1-11

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The Tempter came and said to him..” (please open your bible and read all 11 verses). 

How should I personally participate in a practice that Christians began over 1600 years before I was born? My Sevierville Methodist Church did not observe Lent when I was growing up. However, several decades ago, our denomination accepted this tradition, actually a rare gift, as we joined countless other Christians in this period of prayer, scriptural study, contemplation, confession, and the seeking of holiness. I was an adult before seriously asking myself how I might best honor this season set forth by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

When I read the familiar first eleven verses of chapter 4 of Matthew’s gospel (Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days of fasting, prayer, contemplation, and Satan’s testing), I think of his prolonged time alone. Ancient scripture often used the number 40 to mean a significant period (i.e., the deluge upon Noah’s ark for 40 days, Moses in Egypt 40 years, on Mount Sinai 40 days, and the 40 years wandering in the wilderness, etc.)

For a significant time, the past two years and counting, we all are being thoroughly tested by a dangerous, virulent virus. Unfortunately, we have witnessed anger, fear, ungraciousness, and even shocking behavior played out on many levels. Still, the Lord has seen us through. I feel led to make thanksgiving, contemplation, and kindness my ultimate practices this Lenten season, and perhaps others may feel the same. I hope to join you on Ash Wednesday to begin our 40 days.


God of Grace, we humbly come to you as children who would join others in this time of preparation for the coming Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We give everlasting thanks for this, your gift to all believers. We ask that you speak to us, that whatever we undertake these days of Lent will reflect our devotion to you and our love and concern for others. Amen.

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