Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thoughts on the Lenten Fast

Harry posted this comment a few entries back:

I'm curious to hear about your computer-less Lent. I do hope you'll post some of your observations and experiences about "cyber-fasting." I grew up in a home where my parents enforced a "no-TV" rule during Holy Week. There's no question that it impressed upon me the significance of the week, but I don't recall using the time to make any spiritual progress .. more like counting down the days and minutes until I could turn on the tube again. Such a shallow lad I was!

Here are some initial thoughts. I have come to think that the value in the Lenten fast is in the fast itself. It is in the irritating nature of not doing what I want to do and dealing with the desire to "get the T.V. or internet back" where the importance of the practice is found.

The question of making spiritual progress is important but I am not sure it is wholly answerable. It seems to me that most spiritual progress is imperceptable. It is only after many moons that I notice change in me. My suspicion is that the operation of grace in one's life is much like the benefits of lifting weights. It is the longhaul that counts. So how does that connect to the Lenten fast? Well, I don't perceive any special benefits. I mean that. Fasting of any sort is a pain. I don't like it. By faith, I believe that the Lord used it. But I guess I won't know for a time -- perhaps a very long time -- whether it contributed to my spiritual progress.

I think it is worth considering that the value of the Lenten fast is not in the way it contributes to spiritual progress, but in the way it helps us worship -- in fact is an act of worship itself. In a small (and do I mean small) way one enters into the sufferings of Jesus. Just doing that has value as an act of worship and love -- even if all I think about is getting back to the blog.

Of course it is always better if the Lenten fast is accompanied by pure hearted devotion to God. But that ain't gonna happen -- except in the rarest of situations. Thankfully all the worshipping and fasting we do we do in Christ. His fully devoted offering makes up for the deficiencies of my haggard attempts at loving God.

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