Do you observe Lent?
I'll never forget the first time I saw someone with ashes on her forehead on Ash Wednesday. I was twenty-years-old at the time and thought, "Oh, that's an unfortunate birthmark."
By the time the third person passed me with identical forehead marks, I realized that something else was going on. But what?
If you're not familiar with Lent, or weren't raised in a church that observed Lent (like me), you might have questions like I did about this forty-day season that this year starts in March and ends at Easter. To help, here are five things I've learned about this season of prayer and fasting:
5 Things to Know About Lent
- It's an ancient Christian season that begins on Ash Wednesday (sometime in February or March depending on the year) and ends on Easter Sunday.
- Traditional spiritual practices for observing Lent include prayer, fasting, and giving.
- Catholics are the best-known observers of Lent, but many Christian denominations observe the season.
- Lent is considered to be a time of preparation leading up to Easter, and focuses on penance and repentance as Christians reflect on the price of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.
- The mood of Lent is intentionally somber, peaking with mourning at Jesus' crucifixion during the week before Easter (Holy Week), and then ending with joyful celebration on Easter Sunday.
What about you? Do you observe Lent?
There's no one-size-fits-all recipe for observing Lent. Some Christians practice it with strict fasting and prayer, while others skip it entirely and save their celebrations for Easter Sunday.
Regardless of the specific practices of Lent, what I like most about this season is that it invites me to quiet my heart and reflect on Jesus with more focus and intention during the weeks leading up to Easter.
If you're interested in learning more about Lent, or looking for ideas to observe the Lent season, here are some links to get you started.
Links for Lent Ideas:
- 40-day devotionals for Lent: These three Jesus-Centered devotionals include daily Scriptures and prompts for meditation, plus spaces for journaling. Plus there's one for teens!
- Fresh Ideas for Lent for Families and Individuals: includes simple ways to observe Lent through prayer and relationships
- Family Lent activities: ideas and activities for kids during the Lent season
- Lent Photo Challenge: forty days of photo prompts to capture Lenten themes and reflect on them during the season. (Note: ignore the actual dates on this challenge as they change from year to year.)
- 7-Day Jesus-Centered devotional: though not long enough to stretch through the entire season of Lent, this FREE devotional invites you to focus on Jesus every day in simple and powerful ways. Start day one today!
I'm curious: do you observe Lent? Share you experiences below.
I observe Lent before Easter much as I do Advent before Christmas. Daily devotional readings focused on the life and ministry of Jesus, journaling my reflections as I evaluate my obedience to Christ’s commands, my ability to live with others as He did. I don’t ‘fast’, per se, but I DO give ‘alms’ and light candles on the Lenten Wreath I created, very similar to an Advent Wreath. I light these each Sunday between Ash Wednesday and Easter. My family joyfully celebrate the empty cross and empty tomb with what we call Easter Saturday. This is when we do the egg hunt and picnic games, etc. That way we focus entirely on CORPORATE WORSHIP on Easter Sunday.
I observe Lent in my own way. It’s very personal for me. One year, I gave up processed sugar (that one hurt!) and three years ago I gave up hitting the snooze button before work (that one stuck, I still don’t hit the snooze!). This year, I’m committing to reading my Bible every day during Lent. For me, I try to do something that means something to me personally, whether it’s giving up something I struggle with, or tangibly re-prioritizing my relationship with Jesus.
I have observed Lent each year my whole life. Our tradition is to not only have personal devotion but also worship at church Wednesdays. Now as a Pastor our congregation celebrates Lent and I lead them in worship each Wednesday for Ash Wednesday to Easter!
I enjoy the looks and questions when I “wear” my ashes in public. Great opener for discussions! 🙂
I grew a cath. and lent, I no longer do it, and I am learning to read the bible and god is in my life in a different way, going to join a church soon, for now I am on my own with god.
God bless you. Good article and suggestions. I have a question and hoping someone is able to answer it. Where did the egg hunt and rabbits tradition come from and how does it connect to the Resurrection Sunday ?
While the Easter Bunny is not a part of the Bible, the tradition was started by a Lutheran in Germany. Check out this link to read more about how the tradition began: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Bunny
I absolutely observe lent. I only knew very little about it but now I have a much better understanding of it.I fast by myself with the help of the lord. I love it, it cleanses my mind,body,and soul.
Lent for me is something reflecting on how Jesus came down to Earth and bore our sinful life by crucifixion and dying on the Cross. So that by following his footsteps and being obedient to His command we may be with Him in Eternity.
I never observed Lent growing up in a non-denominational protestant church, but I’ve chosen to do it with my family now. My kids, 4 and 6 years old enjoy us reading “The Jesus Storybook Bible” for 40 days. This year, my husband and I are reading through the New Testament (about 7 chapters per day!). I love how it prepares our hearts for a long period before Easter Sunday.
Thank you for sharing our Lent activities book! Such a nice surprise to see that 🙂