Posted by: Ken Brown | February 26, 2009


Despite Jim West’s nay-saying, I’m glad that I currently attend a more liturgically-oriented church that observes Lent. This is relatively new to me, and I certainly agree with him that true repentance and self-sacrifice should–must–be part of the Christian life throughout the year, not just for 40 days before Easter. But human nature is fickle and forgetful and I for one need as many reminders of these things as I can get. Lent is one such reminder, but more than that, it provides a manageable goal–not to replace true, long-lasting repentance, but to facilitate it.

Life must have its seasons, one can neither feast nor fast at all times, and a healthy balance requires both–not luke-warm moderation but hot and cold in their proper places. Thus some spiritual disciplines, like fasting, would be impractical and harmful if turned into a lifestyle are valuable if pursued for a time.

So this year I’m committing to two things for Lent, one negative and temporary, the other positive and long-term, but both equally important:

First, to spend nothing on myself that is not a necessity, and to give as much of the excess away as possible. Such could hardly be done indefinitely, but hopefully 4o days of it will help me to reducethe amount I spend on unnecessary desires for the long run.

Second, to spend at least 10 minutes, every day, in focused prayer. I used to pray for at least hour every day, but in recent years I’ve fallen out of that habit. Now I generally only pray before meals and in short bursts that usually begin “help me….” It’s time that changed, not for 40 days, but for good.


  1. I too am new to observing Lent. My church doesn’t do it, but I decided to sacrifice something on my own this year.

    Earlier today I read a comment on another blog pointing out that Lent should include prayer, almsgiving, and penitence in addition to self-denial, so it sounds like you are really combining all of the elements well! I am not doing much beyond giving something up, but I think self-sacrifice is the one of the four that I practice least throughout the year, so it’s a good place to start.

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