Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:5)
Why 40 days for Lent? Why pray and, maybe, fast during Lent?
As we begin the Lenten journey in the age of COVID19, these and other questions arise. So let us be mindful of Lent’s true purpose: reflection, repentance, remembrance, renewal and relationship.
Without prayer, fasting is merely actions we do out of tradition without much meaning. Prayer is our conversation with God. It is through prayer that we find the strength to fast. It is through prayer that we develop a closer, more intimate relationship with God. This relationship makes us so grateful for the blessings he has bestowed upon us, that we eagerly give to those less fortunate than us. Prayer is essential to any action we Christians may undertake.
Fasting is one of the most ancient actions linked to Lent. Fasting rules have changed through the ages, but fasting has always been considered sacred. The prophet Isaiah insists that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. So the goal of fasting is linked with prayer. The pangs of hunger remind us of our hunger for God, and prayer and fasting together brings us to what Lent is about - a deeper conversion with our God.
God, you are my God, and I seek you earnestly as I undertake this fast. I bow before you and ask you to purge me of all unworthy thoughts, words and deeds. Forgive my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me. Keep me strong and alert during my fast. Protect me from the Satan, deliver me from temptation and steer my mind and heart away from all distractions. Help me to bring my spirit, soul, body and mind into subjection and focus them on you. So during this Lenten season, renew me, give me a repentant spirit and bring me into right relationship with you. Amen.