Up until a few years ago, I didn’t really understand the purpose of Lent. My knowledge was limited to these facts: 1) My Catholic friends gave up a food item, such as meat, to prepare for Easter, and 2) They attended a special service on Ash Wednesday and received a black mark on the forehead. That’s it. That’s all I knew about Lent. Since that time, I’ve become more educated about the significance of this sacred event.
The purpose of Lent is to reflect on Jesus Christ — his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Ash Wednesday, or “Day of Ashes,” marks the beginning of the Lenten season, which this year is Wednesday, February 10th. In the typical Ash Wednesday service, the priest or pastor applies ashes in the shape of the cross on the forehead, while speaking the words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). The ash cross is a visual reminder of our need for repentance and God’s offer of forgiveness.
Although mostly observed by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians, Lent is becoming increasingly popular among evangelicals and other denominations. Typically, people abstain from meat and may also give up other vices, such as sweets, television, or social media. Many believers may also choose to participate in the Daniel Fast as a way to observe Lent.
The Daniel Fast is a 21-day partial fast based upon the prophet Daniel’s experiences in the Bible. The purpose of the Daniel Fast is to restrict commonly enjoyed foods as an act of worship and consecration to God. On one occasion, Daniel was greatly concerned for his people and sought the Lord’s wisdom during a time of prayer and fasting. Daniel 10:2-3 says, “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips.” The meaning of “choice food” is not clear; however, most commentaries conclude that he ate no bread or sweets. The Message paraphrase sums up Daniel’s eating habits during that time: “I ate only plain and simple food.”
The idea behind the Daniel Fast is not to duplicate Daniel’s menu but to imitate his spiritual hunger. Daniel’s passion for the Lord caused him to seek spiritual food rather than physical food, which should be the desire for anyone doing the Daniel Fast. For more information on doing the Daniel Fast, click HERE.
How will you prepare for Easter this year? Consider doing the Daniel Fast as you celebrate what the Lord has done for you!