Lenten Fasting and Prayer

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Lent is designed to be a time for sacrifice and self-denial, the point of which is to deepen one’s relationship with God and strengthen habits of self control.

What you “give up” you can “offer up” as a prayer, united with Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross. Fasting is a powerful way to make an impact on the world with your daily prayers, which is why I think giving up pizza is a cop-out.

Is that harsh? Maybe. But I think Lent ought to be.

Unless you eat pizza every day, twice a day, you’re only going to be sacrificing anything a few times a week, max. That means your powerful prayers for our broken world are diluted to two, maybe four incidences in seven days instead of thehundreds of opportunities you could have.

When someone gives up eating between meals, or sweets that they eat 3-4 times a day (or more), or soda that they drink with each meal, or all meat or all grains, they are tempted many times throughout the day to give in and give up. At each of those times, they’re presented with an opportunity for prayer, for offering up their sacrifice with Christ. When you’re hungry all the time, you can truly do what St. Paul says in 1 Thesselonians: “Pray constantly.”

That’s why I’d never give up pizza for Lent. It’s far too seldom and also too easy to follow the letter of the law and order a calzone instead.

Giving up something little like pizza, or your weekly trip to the coffee shop, or one show that comes on only on Thursdays, strikes me like Jesus getting all the way to the Cross and saying, “Nah, maybe next week. I’ve done enough today.”

When you love someone, you want to see them all the time. If you’re not with them, you’re thinking about them. You’re calling them. You’re texting them. You can’t wait until they come home, and when they do, you set other things aside to spend time with them.

Isn’t your love for Jesus worth setting a few things aside? Don’t you desire to see Him, to talk to Him, all the time? If you’re going to tell the Lord who died for your sins that you only want to pray and sacrifice for Him once or twice a week, I wonder if it would be better not to sacrifice at all. He spits out the lukewarm, anyway.

Prayer needs to be daily, or better yet, constantly. Fasting is an amazing gift that Jesus taught us to allow us to grow closer to Him.

How are you challenging yourself this Lent and work to improve your self-control and self-discipline?

I think it’s not too late to do something new. Start at the halfway point if you like. God bless your Lent!

Copyright 2011 Katie Kimball

 

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3 Comments

  1. Katie- your article only seems to be yelling at the reader instead of offering charitable Christian advice… I hope your piety serves you well. It isn’t serving me.

    • Victoria,
      I certainly didn’t intend to yell; my intent was certainly challenging but helpful Christian reflection. Don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice! I struggle through Lent and forget to offer up my sufferings just like the next person, but I always try to at least start with a big challenge so I’m reminded of how hard Christ’s sacrifice was daily.
      God bless you, Katie

  2. Katie – I LOVED this column for the spirit of what you’ve written. It’s very easy to “give up” something — anything — and still grow no closer to Christ through prayer in the process. You’ve given me pause to stop and think about my own spiritual practices this Lenten season, and also to realize that a mid-course correction is always a good option. Sometimes, it’s tempting to think that if we haven’t done a particular Lenten devotion since Ash Wednesday, or if we’ve “messed up” that it’s too late. Loved this and thank you for what you’ve shared.

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