Is it possible to continue some of the acts of Lent: prayer, penitence, alms giving, and self-denial beyond Easter Sunday?
Prayer and fasting:
For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1Sam.16:7)
I love this reminder that no matter what I say or do or how people judge me, God knows me by what's inside my heart. Interestingly enough in Mathew chapter 6 we are given the model of prayer and fasting and they both include the words secret place. In other words: God knows your actions by the intent of your heart. I have to confess I don't put into practice fasting as much as I would like or should, but I have given up some unhealthy habits that I once enjoyed. And when I do choose to fast or skip for a day or two something that I enjoy, I am making a conscious effort to draw closer to God.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
As for prayer, it is defined as communicating with God. King David is one of my favorite men of God because he was able to just lie under a tree and carry on a conversation with God and also sing praises unto Him. And that my friends...is prayer!
Repentance is an easy one to decipher. The closer you are in your relationship to God the faster you run to Him for forgiveness. When I was just a babe in Christ I thought it was just me having a guilt complex when I sinned until I learned that guilt complex inside of me was actually the Holy Spirit at work. So now as soon as I do something wrong or say something that I shouldn't, I'm asking for forgiveness as quick as you could say Father.
I guess if us followers of Christ are to exemplify Jesus in all that we do then I suppose we just have to love our neighbor as ourselves and give to those in need, right? Did you ever notice that the times that Jesus fed the multitudes He didn't ask them: "What faith are you?" Nor, "Are you a sinner or a saint?" Or, "What political party or group do you belong to?" Or even, "What race are you?" All He did was simply feed them.
Once we as believers can grasp the fact that:
And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.(Rom.8:11)
then we can take on what may seem like the impossible; controlling what enters our mind and how it effects our choices, thoughts, habits, and lifestyle:
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom.8:5,6)
The last couple of weeks my Pastor has been teaching on Worshiping in Spirit and Truth
(checkout the podcast link on my homepage). I think nothing can prepare us more for entering into Holy Week than our worshiping God in Spirit and truth and continue to do that on a regular basis.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (Jn.4:24)
It took me a long time to get into this habit of praise and to understand the importance it plays in my daily walk. Choosing to live my life in an attitude of worship has enabled me to shut out the fear and anger that the media and society wants to fill us with.
True, honest worship is our desire and enjoyment of being in His presence and giving glory to His Name. Our worship is what keeps that bond glued together in our relationship with God.
Did you know that inside each of our individual bodies is a cell adhesion called laminin which is in the shape of a cross?
So, if we are carrying around inside of us something in the shape of a cross, shouldn't our outside persona be representing the cross as well?
Because I've learned to worship in spirit and truth I am more prepared to enter into Holy Week and to: remember, ponder, and reflect upon what Christ did for me on the cross and know that He indeed rose again on the third day. But I also have enabled myself to carry that with me in worship each and every day.
How about you?