The Season of Lent has begun. Nathan Grimes | Col­legian

For Chris­tians across the world and across denom­i­na­tional lines, the season of Lent has once again begun. This is the season of the church year that cul­mi­nates in Good Friday and Easter. There are many reasons to observe Lent, and they nourish the believer’s reflection on the passion of Jesus Christ.

Aside from Sundays, there are 40 days in the season of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. This mirrors the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness and endured temp­tation by Satan.

Chris­tians use the prac­tices of Christ during this time to model their own behavior during Lent, and appro­pri­ately so. Litur­gical churches put an increased emphasis on prayer, med­i­tation, self-exam­i­nation, and fasting, among other things, during Lent.

It is useful for Chris­tians to always remember that Jesus, though He is true God in human flesh, prayed to God the Father in heaven. While He fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, He spent time praying. When in the garden of Geth­semane before His arrest and exe­cution, He prayed.

So too during Lent, Chris­tians should spend ample time in prayer and med­i­tation. And what should we pray about? The passion of Christ is nec­essary because of the promise God made to man when sin first entered the world. 

God the Father, out of love for His cre­ation, sent His son Jesus to die a hor­rible and gruesome death by cru­ci­fixion. This is the reality of sin. We should pray that we endure temp­tation without turning to sin and that we be for­given for our sins, real­izing that our sins drove the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross.

What does this prayer accom­plish? Only with con­trite hearts can we be for­given of our sins. And we must be for­given; this is why our Savior suf­fered agony and hell, so that we could be for­given. This for­giveness is a gift freely given, poured out from the cross for us, by the divine mercy and grace of God.

Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness before His passion were also spent in fasting. Though not a per­vasive practice among most Chris­tians today, some still fast during Lent, and it has real ben­efits.

Changing one’s usual lifestyle allows one to expe­rience everyday life in a dif­ferent way. Fasting has deep roots in the Christian tra­dition as one example of this.

When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread during His fasting, Jesus responded by quoting scripture: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Chris­tians also pray in the Lord’s Prayer to “Give us this day our daily bread.” Rec­og­nizing that food is a daily gift from God, but that it is not the only thing that nour­ishes and sus­tains us, is the object of fasting.

Though Chris­tians should cer­tainly pray daily and always spend time reflecting on and repenting of sin and giving thanks to God for the gifts of for­giveness and daily bread, Lent offers a time in the Church Year to not just talk about good prac­tices for Christian living, but to actually change one’s lifestyle and do them.

There’s a reason Jesus’ 40-day model in the wilderness still shapes what Lent looks like for Chris­tians after more than 2,000 years. It is appro­priate to receive the free gifts of for­giveness and ever­lasting life given to us by Christ’s passion with the sin­cerity and rev­erence of these Lenten prac­tices.