The death and resurrection of Jesus is the big storyline of the Bible. It’s no surprise, then, that a majority of Christians celebrate it every year on Easter Sunday. But did you know some people start getting ready for Easter 40 days before it happens?
The six weeks leading up to Easter are known as Lent. Lent is believed to have started in the fourth century AD, when people who wanted to be baptized on Easter spent 40 days fasting and praying to prepare for their commitment.
Today, people who choose to practice Lent do so by giving up a kind of food, an activity or a bad habit. Other ways to observe Lent are attending special church services, committing to pray more or giving to others.
Why 40 Days?
In the Bible, Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8-9) and Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2) all went through intense fasting experiences for 40 days and 40 nights. By the time those experiences ended, they were ready for the next challenge they had to face. Adopting that pattern made sense to early Christians.
Is Lent Required to Be a Good Christian?
The short answer is no. Serving God isn’t about keeping religious customs, it’s about having a personal relationship with Him. If you’ve received Christ as your Savior you can’t get “more saved” by practicing church traditions. But will your relationship with God deepen if you set aside time to reflect and focus on Him? Can a season of fasting help you prepare for the next step on your journey with God? The short answer is yes!
Making More Room for God in Your Life
One of God’s greatest promises explains what happens when you spend time with Him: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, English Standard Version).
Nearness means you’ll get to know God better and learn to recognize His voice. Jesus said He leads His sheep with His voice. “The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3, ESV).
With Christ in the lead, you’ll go the right direction and will make it to your destination. You won’t stumble around in a fog of confusion or wander aimlessly, not knowing where to go.
Staying close to Jesus also ensures you’ll have life “abundantly” (John 10:10). This doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges or hardships. But it does mean you’ll have peace, power and joy that can help you deal with any situation (Philippians 4:11-13).
Take a step.
During this season of Lent, allow God to lead you into a time of reflection and surrender. You stand to gain far more than you have to lose.
What does it mean to give something up for Lent? How does Lent prepare you for Easter? What exactly do people do during Lent? Find out the answers to these questions and more.
There are 40 non-sabbath days until Easter Sunday. The church sets apart Easter to more fully celebrate and remember Jesus's finished work on the cross—the work that conquered death.
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