“Even now… return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning” Joel 2: 12
The Season of Lent is an important period in the Christian calendar. This Lent period was used to prepare the new believers for Baptism on Easter. These forty days (excluding the 6 Sundays), beginning from Ash Wednesday to the Holy Saturday, are days of fasting, prayer and about learning the basic truths of the Christian faith for many catechumens of the early church. This season has been passed on to us by the Church for our own spiritual benefit.
Many question the observance of lent by asking whether it is prescribed in the Bible. In the book of Joel, God summons His people to return to Him with fasting and weeping and mourning. Thus, the takeaway for all of us from this narrative is that this time of intense self-examination is a real boost to our spiritual life. These days could be used exactly for this noble purpose. When we question a useful tradition of the Church, we destroy the strong historical link we enjoy unbroken from the early Church.
Lent is also a time of preparation which leads us to meditate on the events on the Cross and the empty tomb. How else can we learn to appreciate the sacrifice of the Son of God, other than sacrificing on our luxuries and lavishness of this worldly life for a short while? Lent is a time of reflecting on the life of Jesus and understanding the purpose behind His coming. Extended time of prayers would lead to humble submission in His hands and fasting would help us to deny some of our favourites to remind us of how Jesus left his heavenly glory to die for us in this world – making this Season of Lent a spiritually beneficial time.
This is an open invitation to join the believers of Jesus worldwide to spend time with God for our own spiritual benefit. This is an opportunity to participate with the local believers in special prayers to grow as one in the body of Christ. This is a time to grow in the Lord through the spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer. Let us follow Joel’s instruction, “Rend your heart, and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God.” (Joel 2: 13).