Are you currently fasting for Lent? I am not, yet the idea is one that has been sitting in the back of my mind for a few years now. I grew up in a protestant, evangelical church that did not practice the Lenten fast. I had a few friends who were catholic growing up and I was aware of Ash Wednesday, but that is as far as my knowledge went. I really didn’t think about Lent again until a few years ago.
I began seeing discussions on social media about fasting for Lent. I grew curious and wanted to learn more. Last year I read through a book by Max Lucado that offered 40 short devotional readings that are ideal for a family to read together through the Lenten season. I really enjoyed spending the weeks before Easter focusing on what Jesus did as he was preparing to give everything in order to redeem me.
In addition, the spring Bible study with Good Morning Girls focused on the book of Matthew that same year. That study really began growing the desire to learn more about Lent.
I was given the opportunity to review the book, 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger by Alicia Britt Chole. This book contains 40 chapters that offers an interesting take on Lent, and how fasting during the Lenten season doesn’t necessarily have to look like everyone else’s fast looks. Ms. Chole gets to the core of what Lent is about, and reminds the reader that the fasting during Lent is more about preparing our hearts for Jesus, and to walk with him in his suffering than it is about developing a new discipline. I found that this book challenged me and really caused me to examine my own heart and reasons for fasting during Lent.
In addition to offering things to fast on a daily basis, Ms. Chole also gives a brief history of Lent in each chapter. I found this to be extremely helpful. I know very little about Lent, and why it is even practiced. The brief history found in each chapter was eye-opening and revealing. Each chapter gives reasons why the Lenten fast was practiced throughout history.
Growing up in the protestant tradition there are a lot of liturgical elements that I haven’t ever experienced. I have not always found tradition to be helpful or a good thing. Yet I am learning that the Bible encourages tradition. The tradition that the Bible encourages is one that helps us to refocus our hearts on the Lord and what he has done for us.
I believe that this book, 40 Days of Decrease does just that. It takes a tradition and makes it meaningful and powerful. It takes something that has become merely eating fish on Fridays, and helps us to refocus our hearts on why we are celebrating Easter in the first place.