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.