Lent is the six-week time period that leads up to the holiday Easter. It includes the action of fasting in moderation and is mainly practiced by Catholics.
Do Protestants fast for lent? Usually, not, Protestants do not observe Lent. Because, to Protestants, Lent is a period of preparation in which Christians remember the life and journey of Jesus through prayer and penance. This tradition is not the result of the Protestant’s fasting because they focus more on Christ’s ministry, not His death.
As many of our readers have asked, what exactly is Lent and why is significant today? Keep reading to understand what the main importance of Lent is to others.
What Is Lent?
As written in the introduction, Lent is the six-week time period leading up to Easter. These specific weeks have been honored for nearly 2,000 years as a way to commemorate Christ’s death and burial before celebrating Him raising from the dead.
And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.Luke 24: 2-3
When Is Lent?
There is a specific time when Lent occurs and also a certain amount of days to fast for. Here are the reasons why.
Since Lent follows the liturgical calendar, the official date of Lent changed each year. This particular holiday does being on Ash Wednesday (a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting) and is held for 46 days. This is 40 fastings days and 6 Sabbaths (Sundays) before Easter Sunday.
Lent is technically 46 days. This is in resemblance of Jesus Christ spending 40 days and nights fasting, praying and be thrown into temptation from Satan, when Christ was in the wilderness. This was right before He made His ministry public and right after He didn’t fall into the temptation of food and water by only focusing on His Father.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry.Matthew 4:1-2
The concept behind Lent is that each year, Christians will mimic Jesus’s actions in the wilderness. Lent is sometimes called the “Great Fast.” It’s a period of time in which Christians are meant to give up some comfort for self-examination, repentance from sin, and rejuvenation of the soul. This is all in anticipation of the greater dedication to serving others and the Lord in the coming year.
How Christians Fast for Lent Today
Here is how Christians pursue fasting up until the day of Easter Sunday. From the modern twist of fasting from technology to the traditional abstinence of food and water, Christians have discovered different ways of honoring Lent.
Modern Fasting Approach
All around the globe, Christian believers observe Lent in several different ways. The majority of orthodox and traditional denominations will still, to this day, distinguish the fast procedures, strictly. From the appearance of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday to the abstinence of meat, fish, eggs, and fats until the morning of Easter Sunday.
Another modern way that Christians today fast for lent is the absence of an item instead of food consumption. Whether that be technology or television and gym time. Many today fast from social media, and instead of binging their favorite Netflix show or movie, they spend their time meditating on scripture and praying.
Traditional Fasting Approach
This type of fasting is the traditional way. Today, there are Christians that fast for Lent like others did in the seventeenth century. The traditional fasting approach is consuming one meatless meal (sometimes two smaller meals if needed) consumed to combine less than a full meal. Liquids are not allowed at all, and no consumption can be happening at any time of the 46-day period.
Fasting Obligations for Catholics
For Lent, Catholics are mainly who observe Lent and fast for 46 days. With that, their denomination is very strict with what a believer can eat or drink during the fast.
Abstaining from meat on Fridays is the main regulation that a Catholic is to follow in regard to Lent. This is for ages varying from fourteen and higher. There are also different conflicting ideas of what meat consists of for this fast.
The Abstinence Law includes the fast to have no consumption:
- Seasonings or condiments (from animal fat)l
- The meat of a mammal
Why Christians Fast Before Easter
If Christ fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, why is Lent for Christians in a time expansion of 46 days? The reason why Lent lasts got 6 more days is because of the Sabbath. The Lord created the seventh day for rest and worship.
Lent is the greatest and most solemn period of fasting on the Christian church’s calendar, leading up to the celebration of Christianity’s greatest feast day Easter.
The reason why Christians are fasting for this particular time period is to mourn with the death of Jesus Christ. Back in the book of Matthew, Christ was crucified on the cross. He sacrificed Himself for all of humanity’s wrong-doings and became the median between the Lord’s wrath and sinful humans.
Christ was mocked, tortured, and hung on a cross to die covered in His own blood. Jesus then was thrown in a tomb and held hostage, there was also a massive tombstone that trapped Him in the tomb. No one could leave and no one could leave either.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.Matthew 11: 50
Since Christ fasted for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and died (Matthew 11), believers who fast for Lent, mourn His pain and death. They have a big feast a celebrate for the honor of Christ’s resurrection that triumphs over death.
3 Reasons To Fast as A Christian
There are many reasons that are beneficial fora, Christan, to fast. Here are the three main points that I relate to most. Connecting with God and creating that relationship with Him, focusing only on Him, and learning how to rely only on Him by not need the necessities to survive physically.
1. Connect With God
n the Bible, fasting is a way to grow a deeper connection with God. It’s a way we show our submission to Jesus and repent for the things we’ve done).
Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.Joel 2:12-13
Fasting is almost always paired with praying because when we give something up for a set time, we can exchange the time spent preparing a meal and eating with time spent talking and listening to Jesus.
2. Focus on God
Fasting is about remembering that God comes first in our lives. It helps us practice saying “no” to our desires and saying “yes” to Jesus. When we give something up for Lent, we are more focused on God than things that may distract us. Rather than focusing on a craving for food, we should hunger and thirst for what’s good and true.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.Matthew 5:6
3. Rely on God
Fasting is an opportunity to place complete dependence on God. We have the luxuries of running water, easy access to food, and so much more. We can intentionally step away from something we regularly enjoy to remind ourselves that Jesus provides for all our needs. God is a generous God, and fasting is one way to remember how good He is to us.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19