Growing up in a mainstream evangelical church we did not participate in Lent. Back then it was still seen as a Catholic practice and it has only been recently it's become an observance among other churches. Now I grew up less than a mile from a decent sized Catholic church and Mom had a good friend who was Catholic. I'm sure I saw people around town with the mark of the cross on their head on Ash Wednesday but I never thought about what it meant.
I never thought about purposefully giving up something during the 40 days leading up to Easter. We were poor so we went without but never with the intention of turning our focus to the suffering of Christ. We had our Sunday school lessons about Good Friday and the joy of Easter but they were reserved for the week before. Maybe they didn't think we could remember much longer.
Ten days ago my church started a Bible reading program for Lent and that seemed like a good start. Then my husband told me a friend was taking a Facebook fast. Yipes, I could never do that I thought. Funny how just what you think you can't do is the very thing God calls you to do.
I could've chosen chocolate but really, would that evoke suffering? No, I'm probably better off without it. But I have become quite attached to the Swamp as I affectionately call it and already miss it. The good thing about this choice though is not only am I giving up a time waster I have already started using that time wisely by working out more.
Now I am not saying Facebook is bad. I've been able to have some very encouraging interactions there. I will go back but now that I've given it up, it is time to look at the other two components of Lent mentioned when I asked (on Facebook) about the practice as it pertained to the church I grew up in. Besides fasting, prayer and other spiritual practices were mentioned.
It seems to me that the focus of Lent is what we give up. But prayer isn't about giving up, it's about getting in touch with God, being in communion with Him. As for "other spiritual practices" the only thing I could think of is Bible reading and study. They are two different things. I read daily. Study indicates going deeper.
So if I understand this correctly my suffering will give me time to focus on the One Who suffered for me. I am giving up something I enjoy so I can fully appreciate all my Savior did 6 hours one Friday.