Moving Closer to God During Lent

 In Children's Ministry, Sara Humphrey, Student Ministry

We are in the season of Lent. Growing up Catholic, this meant giving up something we enjoyed—usually chocolate—and not eating meat on Fridays for these six weeks leading up to Easter. It never failed that we always seemed to crave a hamburger on a Friday during Lent, and I believe, after six long weeks, the best tasting chocolate in all the world was in our Easter baskets on Easter morning.  Each year, however, my brother and I faithfully abstained from meat and gave up some sort of sweet as an act of obedience to God (and maybe to score points as good Catholic-school kids, *wink).  But as an adult I began to reflect on the season, and I began to wonder: how did giving up chocolate and eating more fish help my relationship with God?

Lent is a time of reflection and repentance leading up to Easter.  It is a time for us to deepen our relationship with God.  It is an opportunity to refocus our attention on God and turn away from the things that distract us from Him.  It is a time to reflect and evaluate our daily habits and how they impact our relationship with God.  Do we give Him our best each day?  Is there an area in our lives that stands in the way of a deeper relationship with God?

Lent is often a time of prayer, fasting, and giving.  In my mind as a young child, giving up sweets was a sacrifice and a type of fast.  If Jesus could sacrifice his life for me, then I could certainly sacrifice dessert for 6 weeks, right?  And if Jesus could fast in the wilderness for 40 days, I could certainly fast between meals by giving up snacks for 6 weeks, right?  Giving up something we enjoy is not a bad idea, but we also need to use this time of fasting and sacrifice to deepen our relationship with God.  As we remember from our church-wide fast at the beginning of the year, fasting is an opportunity to focus our time and attention on God through prayer and reading Scripture.  If we are giving up a daily treat, perhaps we could set aside the money we would spend and donate it.  If we are staying off social media or video games, we could use the time for prayer and devotion.  Maybe we could wake up 20 minutes earlier to start our day with God in prayer or reading our Bibles.  Perhaps we could find a service project and use our time serving others.  Maybe drive in the car without the radio and use the time to talk to God.  

Whatever we have decided to do during Lent, I pray that we will draw closer to God and deepen our relationship with Him.    

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