Every year we go through this Lenten Season and how many times have I asked myself, “How to make my 40 days of Lent meaningful?
Once, Twice or never.! Or simply just followed for the sake of following as a Catholic because the church says us to do!
We know Lenten Season to be 40 days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In these 40 days, I have known people taking up difficult tasks to do in Lent [self-made lent fasting rules ]. And I also know people who say, “I anyways needed to lose weight, so it’s ok to fast.”
When I say difficult task, it means giving up the certain food which they have daily and would be tempting for them to give up. Some avoid salt completely, as well as sugar, some completely give up eating meat or meat products.
Just try not to use salt in your food. You won’t be able to eat a little also.
Church also tells us to abstain from meat. Well, it’s all good when you are following and observing the teachings of the church. But why are you actually doing – fasting, spending more time in prayer, and taking extra effort for almsgiving?
It misses the point when you are observing all these practices but do not know why are you doing so?
Asking the Right Questions
40 days in the Bible represents a trial, testing and also represents a long time. We see the number 40 quite many times in the Bible.
Among those, we know Jesus was guided by the Holy Spirit to the desert in the wilderness for 40 days [ lent in the Bible ] and also we saw the Israelites in the old testament wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
Different people, different occasions, different timelines but it served the purpose of 40 days and 40 years.
In both periods the long time served a purpose in their lives. Jesus led by the Holy Spirit went to the Desert in the wilderness in fasting and prayer to prepare Himself for the Spiritual battle with the Satan that we see in the New Testament, where Satan attempts to tempt Jesus.
Jesus knew why He was fasting and praying for 40 days.
The Israelites on the other hand were sent in 40 years of wilderness by God Himself so that the Israelites grows strong in faith and mind and learned to trust in God who freed them from slavery in Egypt.
Similarly, God wants to lead us into freedom from our own weaknesses – our sin, interior battle with ourselves.
In these 40 days of lent God wants us to face our weaknesses like a fighter and to have trust in God for He fights with us in our battles with self, our weaknesses and sins.
These are the two questions that we must ask ourselves:
- What is that thing in my life that is not letting me come closer to God?
- What is that thing in my life that should not be there to make my purposeful life better?
Identify the Area and Act on it
After asking these questions to yourself identify the area in your life, identify the thing in your life that requires immediate attention. And start with that one thing to fast from this lent which will help you to get rid of it forever.
Lent serves a great purpose in preparation to take a step towards a better and strong version of ourselves. The better version that matches God’s image of me.
Am I spending too much time on social media which interrupts my quality time with my family? Then I should fast from social media.
Am I into bad habits like porn which is filling me with impurity and separating from God? Then I should fast from porn.
Do I get angry very often from small matters and destroy my inner peace? Then I should fast from anger.
There can be so many things you must be going through – Identify and Act upon it. You are not alone. God will be fighting together with you to free you from slavery in the same way He was with the Israelites.
Praying and Almsgiving
Pray to the Holy Spirit to help identify the area/thing in your life that requires immediate attention to get rid of from your life.
Once identified keep that particular area/thing in your quality prayer time asking God to be with you in this battle, along with His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Almsgiving generally means giving money or food to poor people. That’s fine! But you can do more.
In almsgiving help a person who is going through the same area/thing similar to you that is keeping him/her away from God. Here this person is poor that requires your help to overcome the bondage of slavery of sin and weaknesses.
The Purpose of Lent is Served
We are all created in the image of God, in His likeness to be the best version of ourselves. But due to our weaknesses and sinfulness, we move far away from the version we were made to be.
In this time of 40 days of Lent serves a great purpose, to come back to the best version, a step to become the version our Creator planned for us when we were created – to be Holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy.