Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which remembers the 40 days and nights Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray before he officially began his public ministry. It’s a time for us to fast and pray, like Jesus did; for us to set aside some of our worldly worries, and focus more intently on God.
This year, I’m going into Lent with some pretty big questions—what am I supposed to do during the next season of my life? what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?—and I think I’m actually in a place to hear the answer. I just turned 26 on Monday, and it’s terrifying to officially be in the second half of my twenties, but also pretty exciting. I’m ready to become the woman God wants me to be, but also the woman I’ve always dreamed of being. Lent this year feels like the launching pad for that: to put into practice some outward, tangible things that reflect this inner reality.
For a successful Lenten journey, the Church has a three-pronged formula: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
For my fast, I’m doing the Daniel fast. It comes from the book of the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament, and basically, it’s vegan (no animal products at all), eliminates processed food (no white flour, white rice, etc.—only whole grains), and eliminates added sweeteners (no sugars, honey, molasses, Splenda, etc.—just the delicious natural sweetness of fruits). I did a 21-day version of this fast last year, and it was incredible. To learn more about it, check out www.daniel-fast.com or The Daniel Cure by Susan Gregory and Rick Bloomer.
For my prayer, I’m going to wake up early every day and do some sort of physical activity for the intentions of another person. This will serve a three-fold purpose: 1) it’ll grow discipline and sacrificial love in me, because there will be plenty of days when I won’t want to get up earlier than necessary, but for the sake of another, I’ll do it anyway; 2) it’s a prayer, and prayer is effective, so even if I never know the effects of my prayer, I believe it will impact the lives of those I pray for; and 3) it will make me physically stronger—one of those outward things that will reflect my inner reality. Plus, I’ve already assigned every day of Lent to a person or family, so even on days when I can’t exercise for them, I can still pray for them in a special way.
I’m still unsure about what I’ll do for almsgiving, so if you have any ideas, comment below!
In The Daniel Cure, Susan Gregory talks about fasting as a way to enter into “rest” with the Lord (pp. 14-15). I’ve never thought of it that way! I’ve always seen fasting as a sacrifice, or a challenge to overcome, but never an opportunity to rest in God. I am so excited to grow and rest and enter into the desert with Jesus.
Let’s do this.