A lot of us have probably tried to give things up for Lent. I remember once when, at ten years old, I took a bite into a delicious slice of chocolate cake before suddenly remembering that I had given chocolate up for Lent. I quickly spat it into a napkin and felt intensely guilty for the rest of the day.
It’s not until I got a bit older that I realised that this is in fact not what Lent is about. It’s not a test of our endurance, or a competition to see who can withstand temptation the longest. It’s actually a beautiful period of time where, in whatever way we find most helpful, we can open our hearts up to the Lord’s presence and let the knowledge of his immense mercy wash over us.
So, what actually is the purpose of Lent? In the third century, the Church formalised Lent as a time of fasting for forty days, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. This would begin the day after Shrove Tuesday when perishables like eggs and milk were used up (often as pancakes!), and would end on Easter Sunday. This time would be spent in self-reflection, observance and prayer.
In the same way, Christians today might choose to give up certain luxuries or activities, like social media, coffee, or chocolate (my personal kryptonite). Others might choose to add something to their daily routines, such as additional time for prayer or reading scripture. Whatever way one might choose to observe this time, the purpose is the same: to refocus our hearts and minds on God, our Heavenly Father who gave His one and only son to rescue his beloved people from their own destructive paths. It’s not a time to begrudgingly give up things we love in order to prove ourselves, but instead to submit our hearts to God, listening to his word, and growing in understanding of his will.
Below are some Lent devotional resources recommended by members of Streatham Central Church:
Forty Women by Ros Clarke and Rebecca McLaughlin
Easter wouldn't have happened without these forty women. Come and meet the hidden voices in the Bible's story in this daily Lent devotional for 2022.
40 Days of Grace by Paul David Tripp
Through 40 daily meditations, Paul David Tripp explores the role grace plays in the everyday life of a Christian.
The Lent Project - Biola University Centre for Christianity Culture and the Arts
A 53-day aesthetically guided meditation on Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Gospel in Life – Lent Devotional
Want to focus your heart on Jesus but not sure where to start? Here’s a great song that reflects on the cross and what it means for us.
‘Child of weakness watch and pray,
Find in me thine all in all’