Monday, 12 March 2018 06:43

Prayer, Fasting and the Hands and Feet

Written by  Rebecca Morris, LPC
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Spring has sprung!  The azaleas are in bloom, and new life sprouts all around us. 

 

For Christians, the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate spring – the reminder of the new life we have in Christ. Many Christian traditions observe Lent, the 40-day period before Easter of self-examination and reflection that can prepare us for the full joy of Easter.  Observation of Lent is an ancient Christian tradition, a season of penitence, repentance, prayer and fasting leading to a renewal of the soul to allow for greater dedication to serving God and others in the coming year.

 

Fasting reminds us of our mortality and can lead to greater recognition of the sin and brokenness of our earthly life and remind us that the resurrection of Jesus foreshadows a time when the broken world will be healed.  Our self-focused lives are interrupted as fasting reconnects the body to the mind, emotions and soul and our priorities are challenged.

 

Lent is designed for self-examination, so that we can identify areas in our lives that need correction and growth, as we are called to renew our dependence on God’s help. Lent is designed to take us out of our comfort zone to prepare for Easter with gratitude and joy.

 

Fasting in Lent follows the example of Jesus.  After his baptism, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.  (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). At his physical weakest, he was tempted repeatedly by Satan to give in to his natural human desires.  Using the word of God, he resisted and was victorious over sin.  

 

Jesus fasted to prepare for his ministry which changed the world forever.  Service to others was a central focus of Jesus’ ministry, and Christians today are called to follow his example.  Prayer, fasting and service are practices during Lent that draw us closer to God and our purpose in this earthly life.

 

Fasting and service can be beautifully blended.  I suggest that this Lenten season, we especially focus on the needs of the heart and soul. Many of us and those around us have a deep yearning to experience the fruits of the Spirit – in ourselves and from others. As Paul exhorts in his letter to the Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23). Lent is a wonderful time to prayerfully seek the fruits of the Spirit and share them.

 

 

Fasting and Service Suggestions from Pope Francis:

 

1. Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

2. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

3. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

5. Fast from worries and trust in God.

6. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

7. Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

8. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.

9. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

10. Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

11. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

 

Fasting reminds us of our brokenness and, although this fallen world will not be redeemed until Jesus comes again, we are called to be his hands and feet on earth.   Lean in to the hearts of others and be blessed.  Happy Easter!

 

 

 

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