The word Lent is an old Saxon word meaning “spring,” and no, it is not in the Bible. However, the path of Lent—prayer, fasting, and generosity over a period of time—is heavily emphasized by the authors of and characters in the Bible, including Jesus. The Bible commends a lifestyle of worship and devotion that looks considerably like Lent. Therefore, while the word is absent in the Bible, the reality of Lent is woven throughout the whole of Scripture, as we have discovered.
The Bible is replete with specific times set aside for devotion to God, including ones that last forty days. Moses fasted for forty days when he communed with the Lord on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:28), Elijah fasted for forty days on his journey to meet God at Horeb (1 Kings 19:8), and, of course, Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert to prepare for His public ministry (Matt. 4:1–11).
Jesus told His followers not to fast while He, the Bridegroom, was present, but that they should after He departed (Matt. 9:15). In Matthew 6:16–18, Jesus teaches that when we fast, we should not do so in the manner of the Pharisees. Notice He did not say if you fast, but when you fast, assuming His followers would keep this practice. If Jesus Himself practiced and advocated for fasting, why should His church refrain from the practice in anticipation of Easter? While Lent is not in the Bible, the practice of Lent is indeed biblical and Christ-centered.
by Aaron Damiani
“Like many evangelicals who love the gospel, I had my doubts about Lent.” It’s true, Lent can often seem like an empty...
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