Lent may only be for 40 days, but as the season of fasting draws to a close, Nigel Thonger asks: what if your Lenten habits could transform your relationship with God permanently?
For Christians, Lent is a serious opportunity to examine our hearts. As we seek inspiration from Jesus’ time in the wilderness and his relationship with his Father, Lent enables us to refocus our lives.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, his close relationship with the Father made it possible for him to speak powerfully against the devil’s lies. In our world today, with all its trials and temptations, we need our relationship with God to mirror Jesus’ more than ever.
Do we spend enough time with God, allowing him to refresh and guide us? Or do we end up working in our own strength?
Unfortunately, when Lent is over and we have celebrated the joy of Easter, we can often slip back into old habits. Yet could the prayers we pray during Lent - for strength to live a more holy, righteous life - become a year-round habit that transforms our spiritual life?
In Jeremiah 33:3, God says: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” As we talk with God and learn more about him, we can make changes to our lives that bring him pleasure, and us greater peace.
Below are five suggestions for talking with God that will help us become more like Jesus. They are particularly applicable during Lent, but they are helpful at any time of the year:
1. Pray about your habits
In 1 Peter 1:16, God says: “Be holy because I am holy.” Living in the world does not encourage holiness, yet our desire for it is a true measure of our heart. Could we be more discerning about what we choose to look at, read or listen to? Is our conversation honouring to God and respectful of others? Are we watchful of what we take into our body, mind and spirit?
Hearing the Spirit speak to us on these subjects can transform our spiritual lives. Why not talk with God about holiness and seek his heart for any changes you may need to make?
2. Pray about your worries
Living contentedly in the world is hard these days. There is much in the news to make us despondent, and sometimes we let ourselves think that those who don’t believe in God have better lives than those who live as his people. But God has given us the answer: trust in the Lord, do the right thing, delight in him and he will give us our heart’s desires (see Psalm 34).
Giving our anxieties and situations to Jesus at the cross can restore the freedom we lose when we keep our burdens to ourselves; and living contentedly allows us to spend more time in his presence. Why not speak with God about giving him your worries and learning to trust him more?
In our world today, with all its trials and temptations, we need our relationship with God to mirror Jesus’
3. Pray about your time
Being a witness to Jesus in our daily life can be challenging. We can ask for courage, faith, grace and strength to stand up and proclaim Jesus as Lord, but do we spend enough time with God, allowing him to refresh and guide us? Or do we end up working in our own strength and becoming a dry well?
Spending quality time with Jesus is the power for effective witness and ministry. Why not speak with God about allocating specific times to meet with him, so that your witness and ministry is anointed for an abundant harvest for God’s kingdom?
4. Pray about your attitude
Knowing what he requires of us in our behaviour pleases God. Micah 6:8 tells us we are to ”act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with him. This tests the attitudes of our hearts, for these requirements ask us to commit ourselves to God, to do as he bids and treat him, and others, with honour and respect. Forgiveness and grace are available when we falter, but observance is better.
Do we pay enough attention to what the Lord requires? The Spirit can teach us a new way to live. Why not speak with God about deepening your understanding of justice, mercy and humility?
5. Pray about your Bible reading
The Bible reminds us that our existence here on earth is only part of the story for God’s people, because life after death is promised for believers in Jesus. It’s good to talk with Jesus about our relationship with the Bible, for Jesus is the living word.
Why not speak with God and ask him to direct your Bible reading and increase your understanding?
If you pray one or more of these prayers during Lent, you may be surprised by how quickly the Lord responds. But why not diarise them through the year as well? A deeper presence of God awaits.