The Season of Lent begins (began) on Ash Wednesday, March 6. Lent is the season of change. We want to rid ourselves of everything that is not of Christ and become more Christlike. During Lent we recognize the three sacrificial pillars of Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving.
The most important sacrificial pillar of Lent is Prayer. There are two types of prayer: public and private. Both of them are important. We know that Jesus prayed publically. Scripture tells us that he customarily attended public worship services. He taught his followers to pray the “Our Father” together and to pray before meals.
Jesus also stressed the importance of praying alone. He often went alone into quiet places to pray. He went to the mountains, the wilderness, along the shore – any secluded place to spend time alone with his Father. Jesus also taught his followers to find places where they could be alone with God. “Go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in secret.”
Jesus knew that the strength of our spiritual lives is measured by the quality of our time alone with God. When we spend time alone with God listening, sharing, and allowing God to nourish us, we develop healthy spirits and find inner strength to face the difficulties of life. Remember. Prayer is a conversation with God. It’s important that we listen to what God wants to tell us.
Think of the most dedicated Christians you have known. They are probably people of prayer who have courageously handled whatever life throws at them. They have displayed a strong confidence that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). When we spend time alone with God, we also discover spiritual riches, and the truth of Jesus’ words.
Fasting is an important part of our spiritual discipline. When we fast (abstaining from food, drink, or something else), we train ourselves in little ways so we can say “No” to more destructive things in life. Jesus fasted. Monks and saints fasted. So can we!
Our fasting can be more affected if we target them to some particular aspect of our lives. We can ask ourselves, “What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health? Am I too attached to any material things, biases and prejudices? Are there any areas of my life that are not in balance? Have I totally surrendered myself to God?”
The third spiritual pillar of Lent is Almsgiving. The Bible teaches us that our unselfish giving to others will result in creating benefits for ourselves. Many people do not understand this because they are thinking selfishly and shortsighted. Giving to those in need is a way to add value to the world around us.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)
Pride or the desire for recognition must never motivate our almsgiving. Christians should be known for their good works and almsgiving just as Jesus is known for his good works. By sacrificing something we hold valuably such as our money or our time, we are acknowledging that God is first in our lives.
Many of us are misusing energy and strength that we really could devote for godly things like caring, loving, serving, reaching out compassionately, and establishing honest, supportive relationships. We can play mind games with each other. However, when we let those mind games extend to our relationship with our God, we won’t know who we are, or whose we are!
Again, Lent is a time to change and become more Christlike. May you Lent be meaningful!