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.