It’s Ash Wednesday which means Lent is upon us! Lent is a season where Christians choose something to fast from, sacrifice, or give up for 40 days just as Jesus fasted and was tempted in the desert for 40 days. It is a time where Christians are supposed to reflect on Christ’s ministry, death and resurrection. Unfortunately, for many, it has turned into a season of testing one’s will power. Can I really give up sweets for 40 days!?
I have a challenge for you this season. Don’t just give something up to say you did, find a replacement behavior instead, and make it something that will draw you nearer to Christ. For example, if you are giving up some type of food or sweet (many people give up dessert or candy), every time you crave sugar, say a prayer. Pray for friends and family. Pray for your current situation. Pray for wisdom. Pray for a deeper faith. Pray for our country. Pray for other countries. Pray for a cause that is close to your heart. Pray that you will understand God in a new way this lent season. Replacement behaviors are important while we are learning a new habit or routine, and it is no different when we are fasting. Choosing a replacement behavior that will bring you closer to God is what this season is all about!
Another replacement behavior you could use is to memorize scripture or read your Bible. Let’s say you have chosen to give up social media for 40 days. Each time you pick up your phone to scroll, because let’s be honest you will do that absent mindedly, retrain your finger and your mind to click on the Bible app. You can choose a book of the Bible to read through, a devotional to check in on, or one scripture to go to over and over again until you have memorized it. It is possible to retrain your mind, but it will take time. Maybe even longer than 40 days. It actually takes 60 days to turn something into a habit. Who knows! Maybe you will be inspired to keep your fast going until it has become a new spiritual practice for you.
So don’t just give something up to test yourself. Do it to know God on a new and deeper level. Fast to draw nearer to Him, and to feel his love in a greater way. “…Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” Joel 2:13.