The Christian season of Lent begins today. If you aren’t a Christian, or if you aren’t from a church tradition that observes Lent, you might remember in years past that day every year when a few people in the office or at school had dark gray smudges on their foreheads. That’s today. Ash Wednesday, the day that many Christians around the globe acknowledge our mortality (ashes to ashes, dust to dust) and look ahead to the death of Jesus on the cross.
Throughout this season, many Christians also choose to fast from something. Meat, cheese, alcohol, sugar, social media, speeding—I’ve known people who have fasted from each of these things over the course of the 40 days of Lent. (Church fun fact: the 40 days of Lent do not include Sundays, because, for the Christian, every Sunday is a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. So it’s not cheating to break a Lenten fast on Sunday.)
I have often shied away from fasting because it seemed more like a handy diet plan or a self-improvement project and less like a way to draw near to God. But over the course of the past year, I heard more and more pastors, teachers, and friends talk about how important a practice fasting can be in connecting to God.
Turning My Attention
So I started fasting and praying—with a few friends—on Mondays. I’ll write more about that experience in the next few weeks, but for now, I’ll just say that I have found it unexpectedly revelatory in turning my attention away from my physical cravings and towards my deeper longings. I have found it unexpectedly lifegiving in turning my heart and mind toward God.
None of us are obligated, and all of us are invited, to fast from something throughout this season, that we might see and receive more and more of the deep and abiding grace and love of God.
To read more with Amy Julia:
- Devotional Book | On the Way: Walking With Jesus Through the Season of Lent
- The Call of Lent (And the Temptation)
- Four Spiritual Practices That Help Social Justice Stay Grounded in Love
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