Lent Reflection: Prayer, Fasting and Self Denial

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As you all probably know Lent (Latin: Quadragesima, “fortieth”) is the 40 days (not including Sundays) before Easter.

As a child growing up Lent seemed like something Christians just “did” every year. I never knew the meaning of it, or why thousands upon thousands of Christians around the world gave up TV, The Internet, ___ fill in the blank. I never really understood why for 40 days people would give up something that they enjoyed or liked (it almost seemed rather silly). It wasn’t until I was a little more mature in my faith that I began to understand the meaning, and reason behind our prayers, fasting, and sacrifices.

Lent isn’t just a season or a “thing we do,” it’s an idea. And like all ideas, it has power. The idea of lent is to set aside ourselves, to right ourselves before God, and to sacrifice only a fraction of what Jesus gave for us. It’s a corporate time for the Body of Christ to deny the worldly give penance for our sins.

So as we enter Lent let us examine some of the things we are practice.

Fasting/Self Denial: Fasting during Lent helps us deny our fleshly yearnings and focus on God. Fasting is a time where we can see God with so much more clarity. God tells us to rend ourselves completely to him with everything we have, not just to give up our garments (or food/luxuries) but our hearts as well.

Joel 2:12: “Yet even now,” the Lord says, “return to me with all your heart – with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your garments!”

Jonah 3:5: “the people of Nineveh believed in God, and they declared a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.”

Daily Prayer: I find that praying daily during the Lent season, not only refocuses my heart and mind, but also develops the discipline needed to continue in daily prayer after the Lent season has passed. Prayer is mandated to us in the Bible; it is our one way ticket to God and his Power, and while we are consecrating ourselves it is even more powerful.

Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Ephesians 6:18: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

As we focus ourselves, may God keep you and bless you.

Check back here tomorrow and throughout the Lent season as camp staff, volunteers, campers and alumni share daily devotions.

Randy is a former camper. He moved to Buffalo to become a state-bound missionary with the Christian Ministry Eagles’ Wings (www.eagleswings.to). Image credit: Jon Ashcroft, via Creation Swap.

Advent Devotion: Waiting on the Lord

“We are waiting with expectation, Spirit raise us up with You” – “Let the Church Rise” by Jonathan Stockstill

We are a few days into the Advent (Latin translation “Coming”) season and God really laid on my heart this longing, an expectation of his coming. I think it’s fair to say that the body of Christ is in a season of waiting, regardless if it’s the Advent season or not. Before I get into the body of my message let’s take a minute to re-focus…

In the months leading up to Christmas we can get a little distracted. Everything seems to be happening at once, shopping for Christmas presents, trying to make your budget work, worrying about how your kids are doing in school, _____ fill in the blank. Even outside of Christmas our minds are working a mile a minute just to figure out this thing we call “life.” Does this resonate with you? Ok take a deep breath, hold it…hold it… okay let it out (do this until you are relaxed and calm).

“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” -2 Peter 3:10

We as humans have a yearning, a desire and an innate and primal urge for Love (God). We can’t escape it, no matter how hard we try. We can stuff it down into the inner most pits of our consciousness and starve it until it’s shriveled and dry, but it’s still going to be there. The world’s desire for God was sated when Jesus came. The minute he stepped forth on the earth a light started to grow in the darkness that we had fallen into. When he left the earth he spoke of his return, and ever since that moment the body of Christ has been waiting for this Advent… his coming.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

God has not forgotten his promise. In fact he’s waiting on us. God’s long-suffering (patience) is beyond 2,000 years. He longs to come to earth, to be with his bride. Like a husband waiting years for his wife to finally walk down the aisle and be at his side.

As the song quoted at the beginning says we are waiting with expectation (Click HERE to listen). This should be done in Joy and not sadness, in excitement for what God has planned. So as we go back to our lives at work, or at home, and everything in between, remember God’s promise. Let’s remember the love he shared by sending his Son, and the love he will share when he sends his son again.

Today’s Readings – Psalm 119:1-24, 12, 13, 14, Amos 3:12-4:5, 2 Peter 3:1-10, Matt 21:23-32

Randy is a former camper. He moved to Buffalo to become a state-bound missionary with the Christian Ministry Eagles’ Wings.

(Image from SXC.HU free image exchange)