I grew up in a non-liturgical church that didn’t observe Lent. As a child, I wondered why other Christians went around one day in the spring with a black cross on their foreheads.
As an adult, I became an Anglican and learned about the liturgical tradition. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the penitential season of Lent.
Lent is a period of 40 days leading up to Easter. There are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. However, the six Sundays are not considered part of the Lenten fast days. Every Sunday is a little Easter in memory of the Resurrection, so the 40 days of Lent are 40 days of fasting and penitence in preparation of the holiest day of the liturgical year, Easter Sunday.
On Ash Wednesday, liturgical Christians attend church services for the Imposition of Ashes, in which a priest or pastor makes the sign of the cross on the penitent’s forehead in ashes, in many traditions saying, “Remember, o man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” The ashes symbolize repentance, and the cross reminds believers of the great sacrifice Christ made for us sinners at His Crucifixion.
Many Christians fast, or give up something, for Lent. Often we think of a dietary fast—giving up meat or sweets. However, a Christian can fast from anything that comes between him or her and the Lord. A number of my friends are fasting from social media. It’s easy to spend more time on Facebook or Twitter than in God’s Word. Whatever we give up should not only be a sacrifice—a penance, but it should also bring us closer to God. So someone who gives us social media can use the time they free up for more time reading the Bible or a devotional.
I read voraciously, as you can tell from my reviews on Goodreads. As I’ve done in the past, I am fasting from fiction of all kinds and reading Christian nonfiction during Lent. Giving up fiction is a sacrifice, as I do enjoy reading stories. And the nonfiction Christian books I’m reading will bring me closer to God.
In addition, I add an extra devotional reading to my daily devotions. Each year, I keep a prayer journal for each day of Lent, and the following year I post those readings and prayers to my blog. Beginning today, you can read daily Scriptures and prayers from my Lenten devotions. I hope these verses from God’s Word and prayers from my heart will add to your own devotions this Lent.