Growing up, I wasn’t that familiar with fasting or with the season of lent. To me, lent was just a time when people gave up chocolate or coffee for a few weeks. So what is lent, and why are we on a journey to the cross? Lent is a period of forty days that many Christians observe every year just before Easter, typically from late February to early April. The Lenten season begins on a day known as Ash Wednesday (about six weeks before Easter) and continues until Easter Sunday, not counting the Sundays in between, as they are still considered days of celebration.
Christians describe the forty-day Lenten season itself as a journey in the wilderness. Lent represents a time of searching for God amidst the brokenness of life, a season of intentional fasting before a time of feasting. Historically, Christians have given up something during Lent as a symbolic way to mark their journey and refocus their energy on their relationship with God. It is a time for fasting and self-denial, though not for denial itself. It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the gospel.
Why is fasting important
Watch this short video to learn more about fasting.
Overview of our Weekly Fasts
As a church, we are challenging you to prepare your hearts for Easter by engaging in different types of fast each week. You will get to choose how you want to observe each week.
Each week, we have suggested an area of fasting to apply to our lives. Far from a mere responsibility, these weekly fasts give us opportunities to pursue greater communion with Christ. By emptying our lives of commotion, clutter and noise, we hope to find greater room for Him to speak through His Word. Rather than simply subtracting something from our lives, this is an opportunity to add something greater.
Some of the fasts are traditional (food, caffeine, sweets), while others may be novel for many of us (media, sleep, shopping). These particular fasts were chosen because each represents a common comfort to which our culture runs for distraction. The hope for each is that a season of unplugging from the background buzz will be leveraged for the sake of communing with the Lord. Therefore, we should consider ways in which we can leverage the fast to engage in deeper prayer, study, community, meditation, etc.
Although encouraged to pursue a complete fast on many of the weeks (i.e. abstaining completely from the area of the week), there are two weeks in particular in which you are encouraged to plan ahead the degree to which you will engage in the fast. Weeks 1 and 6 are not expected to be absolute fasts.
- Week 1 involves a fast from food. You may choose to fast from one meal a day; others will do an entire day; others still might choose a fast of multiple days.
- Week 6 involves a fast from sleep. You are neither expected nor encouraged to abstain from sleep for the entire week. However, the hope is that we might set our alarms an hour or two earlier, stay up an hour or two later and devote one entire night or morning to prayer.
Additionally, you should consider the possibility of building each week upon the next. For instance, you could continue the Week 1 fast into Week 2 and so forth to eventually do all six fasts together. Again, this is not intended to be a burden, but rather an opportunity. If we are to follow Christ in the wilderness, it will take some degree of discomfort and inconvenience. May we begin to prepare our hearts accordingly.
Here is an overview of all six weeks
- Week 1 – Fasting from Food
- Week 2 – Fasting from TV & Movies
- Week 3 – Fasting from Social Media
- Week 4 – Fasting from Caffeine and Sweets
- Week 5 – Fasting from Shopping for Non-Essentials
- Week 6 – Fasting from Sleep
Now, here is your devotion for the week.
Week 1 Devotion
On this journey to the cross, there will be obstacles. No real journey is without bumps along the way. In the Bible, the very first bump in the road is the obstacle Eve faces in the Garden of Eden. Satan confronts her and deceives her into eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Until this point, she and Adam are in perfect relationship with God. Then out from the bushes creeps evil. It presents itself as a question, a temptation, and a challenge.
“He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Evil doesn’t always come boldly. It can be subtle, inquisitive, and defensive. It creeps. After that fateful event in the garden, everything changes. Sin becomes a part of the story God is writing. A need for a Savior is established.
As we look toward the cross in these weeks leading up to the celebration of Easter, it is vital that we look back to the place where the cross became necessary. It wasn’t just Eve ruining it for us all.
Romans 3:23 tells us “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We all have to face the reality that our hearts are dark, they can’t be trusted and without rescue, we are lost and without hope. Just like the evil in the garden it creeps out from behind the bushes. We don’t ask for it, but it finds us. We can be defensive or smooth talk it away but it is still there. We have to admit it. Recognizing our sin is our first step in the journey to the cross. If we don’t recognize our need for Jesus the walk to the cross is pointless. Our sin is what took Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for Eve’s sin and the sin of every other person since. As we orient ourselves in the direction of the cross over the next few weeks, there will be bumps in the road but the journey will be worth it. When we commit to being intentional with our journey we establish that Easter will not be just another holiday of chocolate bunnies and dyed eggs. If we agree to spend the next 40 days orienting our hearts toward Jesus through fasting in different areas of our lives, Easter will come as a celebration of Jesus.
The first fast of our journey is a fast from food. It couldn’t be a more fitting reminder of Eve’s sin in the garden. In our age of instant gratification, denying our selves of anything is hard. Like Eve we are easily lured into compromise.
“So she took some of it’s fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6
Pray about how God would have you fast this week. Practicing the discipline of fasting from food can be a wonderful reminder of denying ourselves of something temporary in pursuit of the better things of eternity.
Fast for Week 1 – Fasting from Food
For this week, we invite you to fast from food. You may choose to fast through the same meal each day, or you may want to fast for a more prolonged time. You could fast for a 24 hour period, or you could just fast from certain food items. Here is another video that explains what you can do.
Our goal is not to be legalistic, but to find freedom from temptation. It is also not a time to draw attention to yourself. We encourage you to replace the time usually spent eating with something better. And if you have any health problems, please consult a physician before you enter any prolonged fasts from food. Here are links to more information for fasting: