As an evangelical protestant, my particular denomination of Christianity does not recognize or participate in Lent. In fact, it would surprise many people that I know that I have for the last couple of years participated in some kind of fast in recognition of the Lenten season.
The Lord has really spoken to me about fasting over the last couple of years about the benefit of fasting to hone my focus on Him. I have done periodic fasts from food during the lunch hour as I have felt it appropriate, timely or have felt called to such a fast. And each time, the Lord has been completely faithful to tend to what needed tending as I gained more specific focus on Him during that fasting period.
Last year during the Lenten season, I fasted from Twitter. That may seem small to some of you, but it’s a big part of my communication with the outside world during my work hours. I can work a little and tweet a little. Yes, it can get a little distracting sometimes, which is why I think I felt the call to fast from it completely during Lent last year. I used the time that I would have spent going to twitter during off times at work to read or work on Bible study.
This year, I didn’t anticipate that I would participate in a fasting for Lent. However, the week before Lent was to begin, out of nowhere it seems, I got the sense that I would. I really felt the Lord calling me to fast from all beverages other than milk and water. Wow. I know that has to be from God because 1) it is so specific and 2)I would never in my own thoughts come up with that. I love my mid-morning cup of coffee, my Dr. Pepper to go with a salty snack or spicy entree , my Sonic Raspberry Unsweetened Iced Tea, and my occasional glass of wine or cocktail too much to ever come up with this on my own.
But I love my Jesus so much more and too much to disobey on something this simple.
It has come to my attention that many give themselves the day off from their specific fast on Sundays with the reasoning that penance is not appropriate on the Lord’s resurrection day.
Maybe my approach is not in the original spirit of Lent, but this is not about penance for me. It’s about focus and purification. Much in the same way a Jewish family might begin cleaning their house and ridding it of any yeast for weeks before Passover, I believe that I have been called, at least for this season, to a period of time of cleansing and purification before the Lord.
As such, I don’t think I will take Sundays off from my fast.
I don’t participate in all facets of Lent. I don’t refrain from meat on Fridays and I did not attend an Ash Wednesday service to get ashes on my forehead. However, after reading an article (found here) by my sister in Christ and internet friend, Sister Lynn, I have made a point to include a facet of prayer (to deepen my spiritual and prayer life) and alms-giving along with my fast this year.
For prayer, I added an additional verse to memorize and meditate upon during the Lenten season. The verse that I am memorizing is Jeremiah 23:29 from the Amplified Bible and it is reminding me of the power of God’s Word. For alms-giving, we gave some additional money for disaster relief efforts through a particular relief aid group that we know and trust. A group that, in many cases, will go and provide water purification systems and filters so that people can have a fresh clean cup of water.
So as I began my fast, I realized that as I have found myself desiring that cup of coffee with my muffin, that Dr. Pepper with a bowl of popcorn, or a root beer with my barbeque, I pour myself a glass of water and ask the One who gives streams of Living Water to fill me up. I want to desire Him and nothing else.
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38