Lent is becoming increasingly popular with young evangelicals. They are embracing opportunities to implement spiritual disciplines more often associated with other Christian faiths (i.e., Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans).
Lent began on Ash Wednesday and will end on Holy Thursday, a time for reflecting on the Last Supper, the final meal Jesus ate with His disciples. It is a period of preparation for Easter and many Christians use the time to remember the life of Jesus through prayer, an attitude of contrition, and fasting – eliminating meals or favorite foods.
The ultimate goal of fasting is greater intimacy and dependence on God. When asked to identify the Greatest Commandment, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). He continued, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Fasting is a practical spiritual discipline that helps Christians connect with God while engaging soul, mind and strength. It helps us to:
- Draw closer to God.
- Focus on the life of Jesus.
- Reflect more deeply on Scripture.
- Initiate new habits of devotion.
- Unplug from a noisy, distracting world.
Worshiping God and loving others helps Christians put their faith in action through prayer, contrition and acts of charity. But consider this option during this season of fasting too. Rather than just give up meals, use the sacrifice to bless others. Commit the cost of those meals to feed children who have little or nothing.
One possible recipient of your compassion could be Esperanza de Vida (Hope of Life). This partner of Cross International rescues hungry children from the brink of starvation and nurses them back to health. The project reduces the infant malnutrition and infant mortality rate among the poorest of the poor in rural Zacapa, a rugged, mountainous region in northeastern Guatemala.
Integrating this kind of charity into your Lenten experience will bless the heart of God, transform the lives of the poor, and bring spiritual growth into your life.