I'm not sure when I heard about it, but for the past few years I've started to look more into it and sometimes I give something up - or at least attempt to.
For some reason this year my heart has been inclined toward Lent; to make it count, to prepare my heart and focus on Jesus and the suffering he took on for me.
Upon doing some more research I found that there is more to Lent than just "giving something up". Wikipedia says that "there are three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent; prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour)."
Recently the pastor at our church spoke about the discipline of fasting and how it's a gift to us as Christians to practice this and rely on the Holy Spirit. It's something that's assumed of us as Christians (Matthew 6:16 says "when you fast..." not if, but when.) and it's something that Jesus himself did. I don't regularly fast, but I'm seriously considering making it a part of my life whether on a monthly or seasonal basis, I'm not sure yet. But it's something I felt the Holy Spirit saying to me, "Listen to this. Pray and seek me on this.". And so I'm going to.
According to Wikipedia, justice (referring back to Wikipedia's definition of Lent) is the concept of moral rightness based on some form of ethics or law and that punishment occurs when there is a breach of those ethics.
Romans 3:28 says that we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law so I know that I have already been justified, but I do like the idea of focusing on God, myself and my neighbour in a way that is more purposeful and deliberate.
So with all that, here is what I'm aiming for during this time of Lent.
I'm giving up sugar - nothing like giving up all breads or not eating fruit, but candy, sweets, desserts, sugary cereals or other sugary breakfast items will be what I'm focusing on fasting from.
I also really want to focus on my bible reading plan: for slackers and shirkers - I've been coming and going with it and I really want to make a concerted effort to stick with it, rely on God and seek him during this time for my contentment and fulfillment.
I want to be in prayer for specific things:
1. God's will and plan for our family as it relates to expanding it. We're not there yet, but it's something I continue to think and dream about on a daily basis. I want to be at peace with whatever He has in store for us.
2. the Orphan crisis and my/our role in it.
3. my husband and my children. Especially for this next transition and phase in our lives.
4. specifically for Noah and how incredibly strong-willed he is. how to teach and instruct him. for wisdom to take the necessary steps to guide him and to know what those steps are and for the Holy Spirit to bind the spirit of defiance and stubbornness in him but without breaking his spirit.
As for "almsgiving", I'm still not sure exactly where or what God would have me do during the next 40 days (Lent starts this Wednesday) but I think my eyes will be open and I will be praying for opportunities and I know God is always waiting to present us with opportunities to be His eyes and ears, his hands and feet and to speak words of Love and Truth into peoples' lives if we are only willing to be open and step out in faith.