Dec 31, 2015, 10:12 AM
Wednesday 18th February was marked as Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of lent. During this season, Christians devote themselves to fasting, prayer, alms-giving and abstinence.Fasting means reduction of the amount of food that is taken during the day as a way of imitating Jesus.Prayer is the act of worship to call on God in his mercy and compassion.Almsgiving means sharing your goods with the less fortunate and poor.In Matt. 6:5-6 and 16-18, Jesus fasted for forty days.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and during this day Christians avail of the opportunity to go to Church and celebrate the mercy and compassion of God. As a sign of sorrow for sins committed, Christians mark themselves with ashes on their foreheads. The priest who signs them with ashes reminds them of their unworthiness in these, words: “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return”.
Everything that Christians do during lent is done out of sorrow for sin and the willingness to change and be converted in heart and conduct of their lives to turn to God. They are to be touched by repentance in their hearts. Any action done without the purpose of effecting within the Christian heart, a lasting repentance is not in line with the spirit of lent. On many occasions, it is the eagerness to satisfy the body and its carvings that leads to the offence against God.
The prayers, fasting and penance that is done during lent is done in union with the Lord Jesus. In imitating Jesus who fasted and was tempted but did not sin the Christian believer is restored in the body to the original dignity with which God created the body. The Christian prayer in union with Jesus is for Him to render his grace to all who observe the Lenten season so that they may experience conversion.
It is therefore necessary that as we devote ourselves to the Lenten season, we do it with sincerity and hearts dedicated to God. We do not indulge ourselves to doing things and observing fasting, prayer and penance for people to see and know that we are doing things. The Biblical teaching about prayer and fasting is given by Jesus as follows: Matt. 6:5-6, 16-18.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting – only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you”.
The Christian Panorama wishes all Christians a happy and prayerful Lenten Season. May God grant us all the blessings of his compassion and mercy and answer our prayers