i've borrowed much of this from one of my favorite blogs, life in grace, because i think edie has explained lent in a way that i could not do better. here are her words:
Lent is a 40 day period leading up to Easter that is characterized by prayer, reflection, repentance and often fasting, then culminating in the celebration of the resurrection and the feasting of Easter. It roughly mimics the 40 days Christ retreated to the wilderness and wrestled with the devil.
It’s a methodical way of proceeding through the scriptures and it prevents such things as quickly glossing over the celebration of Christ’s resurrection without spending time in quiet reflection of His death on the cross, the mental anguish and suffering which took place while he was in the wilderness, and the details of the events of His life during Holy Week. It’s like walking in ‘real time’ with Him during the last weeks of His life. Is Lent discussed or commanded , per se, in the scriptures? No, but penitence and fasting and prayer are and what better time to observe a more rigorous christian discipline than as we reflect upon the last days and weeks of the life of Christ.
God our Father, despite our unloveliness, has given us everything we need and has clothed us with the righteousness of Christ, but we, like Adam, want to ‘clothe’ ourselves. Lent is a time to strip down; to take off the filthy clothes of our own righteousness and to let our Father give us from His hand what He knows we need.
We learn from our Father by spending time with Him. There is much He wants to teach us and much that needs to be changed in us. But more than all that, He wants to give us Himself—-knowing that we were created for relationship with Him. And nothing will satisfy the deepest longings of our soul save Our Father’s perfect love. Lent is time to retreat with Our Father. To confess to Him that we have wandered so far from home and that we have become far too ‘comfortable’ in the pleasures of this life. To confess to Him how utterly dependent we have become on everything, but Him. And He will gladly ‘receive’ us back with open arms: not because we demonstrate to Him our growing discipline and holiness, but for the sake of Christ and Him alone.
and I loved this quote too:
“Lent begins with this realization. That we are a people in exile. That we are wandering far from our true home. And thus the beginning of repentance isn’t merely the terror that one finds in wandering in a strange land; the beginning of repentance is homesickness. Lent teaches us to fess up to how often we settle down in the land of our exile as though it were our true home; attempting to still the yearning the Spirit has created by throwing at it physical or psychological pleasure, and how it never works.” courtesy of Pastor Will Weedon
so for lent, i thought i would fast from paying medical bills and taking sick kids to the doctor. ha, ha, just kidding. i've got to make jokes like that to keep my sanity. lent for me is a good accountability opportunity to practice discipline, of which i have none. zero, zilch, nada. i'm not kidding. unfortunately. seriously, though i want to practice reading consistently over these next 40 days a portion of God's Word. i love the psalms, especially in these "woe is me" sort of seasons, so i am going to read a psalm a day, 1 through 40 for lent this year.