It wasn’t long ago that when the word “Lent” was spoken, all that came to my mind was the tiny bits of string or fabric that I use a roller to pull off my clothes. Much to my confusion, it wasn’t lint my new church was talking about, but instead it was the beautiful time of fasting leading up to Easter… Lent. As an evangelical, I found it an adjustment to adopt this traditionally non-evangelical season. I identify greatly with my good friend Karen Kinnaird who wrote about her initial struggle with accepting it. You can read her blog post here.
After getting past my preconceived ideas, I not only look forward to Lent, but I almost miss it when it’s over. While Lent is something new to me, the fasting that accompanies it is not. Practicing fasting speaks to me greater than many other disciplines in my walk with the Lord. It humbles me and forces me to focus on the Kingdom of God. Fasting strips away a practice or a thing that all too often kidnaps my attention from the cross.
As Lent approaches this very week, I would like to share with you the basic steps of fasting in order to encourage you into “Lent—ing” well!
Step One: Find Your Motivation
“…The men of Israel were worn out that day, for Saul had placed the troops under an oath: ‘The man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies is cursed.’ So none of the troops tasted any food.” This is the opening verse of a narrative that goes down in 1 Samuel 14. Saul, the often rash and foolish king of Israel, forced his troops into a fast that God did not call for. He assumed victory would come (or rather his own revenge would come) if he did this supposed righteous act before the Lord. There’s a lot to learn in this passage about fasting:
God honors a holy fast. He will not be tempted or pushed into acting because we decide to fast from tv for a week. He will not be belittled in this way. But when our hearts are turned to Him and our surrender of something reflects the surrender in our hearts… He will indeed honor that believer’s holy fast.
Inappropriate fasts only reap discouragement. When we approach a fast or force ourselves to fast outside of a desire for more of God, we will only come out as Saul’s hungry troops. Without proper motivation and hunger for God, fasting is just simply going hungry for no good.
Step one is to seek the righteous motivation for fasting. Search the scriptures and your Father’s heart for your motivation.
Step Two: Make a Plan
Here are my favorite and best tips for fasting as you form a plan for this Lent season:
Picking what you will fast from can be difficult. Here is a short list of some things I’ve previously fasted from to get you started…
Hot showers (talk about increasing your prayer life!)
All drinks but water (yes! Including coffee!)
Secular music (John Mayer will understand… turn on some Shane & Shane, girl!)
Know you will face temptation to quit. Plan ahead for those times you know you will be tempted to quit or “cheat.” Remember this is not a diet or survival test… this is to cultivate a deeper hunger for God! Stick to your guns, and remember that every temptation to quit is a call to prayer.
Attempt a private fast. Obviously, we will be doing Lent as a church family, so this may prove to be the biggest challenge. Matthew 6:16-18 calls us to a humble, private fast. Though we are free to share the journey with our small groups or connection classes, remember that it is with a humble heart that our fasts will honor the Father.
Step Three: Just Do It!
We could spend all day researching fasting, but when it comes down to it, you’ve just got to do it! Toss those fears out the window and cling to your motivation that you found venturing into Step One. Use the tips you discovered in Step two, and tackle this Lent season. Get truly hungry for the Lord!
Sisters, there’s just no way for me to fit everything I love about fasting in one blog. I would enjoy getting to encourage you in your faith journey through grabbing a cup of coffee together (unless, of course, that’s what you’re fasting from). Holler at me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll catch up sometime. Until then, Merry Lent Season!
Meet the Author!
Hannah Hanzel is an opinionated, passionate gal that loves sharing what God is doing in her often busy and complicated life. She strives to show God's glory in working as the Art Director for the Baptist Messenger, serving as a multi-client freelance graphic designer, and communing with CRBC. When she's not working, you can find her sipping coffee in a hammock, watching classic '40s movies, or going on an adventure with friends or family.