Church of England Diocese of Leeds St. Paul, Morley, Townend

Why do Christians Fast during Lent?

17 Feb 2021, 8 a.m.
From_the_Vicar Easter Lent

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
Or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10-12

I wonder if you, like many others, are planning to ‘give something up’ for Lent? Giving stuff up, or fasting during Lent has been a discipline in Christianity since the beginning.

The 40 days, remind us of the 40 days Jesus spent, fasting and tempted in the wilderness at the start of his ministry. You can find this in Mark:1, Matthew:4, and Luke: 4 in the Bible.

Just for your Information, there are actually 46 days in Lent. That’s because Sundays you’re allowed to break your fast if you like. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and end at dawn on Easter morning. That’s 40 days.

We fast during Lent as a sacrifice to God, showing our humble gratitude for all he sacrificed for us. On Good Friday, Jesus, God’s only Son, sacrificed his perfect life for us - the ultimate sacrifice - so we can be set free from all in our lives that we have in the way of an intimately close relationship with God.

When we fast, we create space where we would normally be enjoying chocolate, drinking coffee, smoking, watching TV and we have the opportunity to fill it with sharper mindfulness of God.

As we spend time with God, we can, like the psalmist, ask God to create a new, fresh outlook on life, - a pure heart- with God in his rightful place, at the centre of our lives.

We can, like the psalmist, expect God to restore to the joy of salvation – his love, his forgiveness, his gift of eternal life.