WHAT IS LENT & HOW CAN I PRACTICE IT THIS SEASON?
Lent is a season in the Church of preparation for the events of Jesus' Passion and Resurrection. This season is characterized by self-denial, repentance, and self-examination. Historically this season began as a time for baptismal candidates to prepare themselves for being brought into the faith. Fasting and penitence have been the primary forms of this preparation. As baptismal candidates prepared themselves for forty days as a reminder of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, being tested by Satan. Eventually, the entire Church began supporting these new converts by joining them in their fast.
Join us at SWIF for Lent this year by following our Bible Reading Plan and prayerfully consider fasting with our community.
The Lent Series. Lent describes a forty-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday (This year March 1) and ends on the Saturday before Easter, April 15. (The “40” days does not include the Sundays which are like “mini Easters” along the way!) The number 40 and the time of the year remind us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness as He prepared for the launch of His ministry. These are 40 days of “adding to and taking away” through spiritual disciplines which help us prepare for the journey of following Jesus to the cross and resurrection; a journey which requires sacrifice but also a journey which will enhance our lives with greater love and the fullness of Christ within.
Note on Prayer Section: We have added prayer requests for each day from different organizations in China who serve the poor. Use these requests to pray for the poor and those who serve them.
PRAYING FOR THE NEEDY IN OUR COMMUNITY
Besides those already included in the Guide, here is a list of additional prayer requests from organizations serving the poor and needy in Shanghai and in China. Let's serve them through our prayers...
Throughout the Bible and the history of God’s people fasting refers to the abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Jesus fasted (Luke 4) and the Paul fasted. (2 Corinthians 11:27)
The Purpose of Fasting (Richard Foster)
The primary purpose of fasting is to center our lives on God. Secondarily, we fast to: 1) Reveal the things that control us (Psalm 69:10), 2) Remind ourselves that we are sustained by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), 3) Keep balance in our lives (1 Corinthians 6:12)
How to fast during Lent:
One way to fast is the partial fast, which is a restriction of your diet. In order to identify with the homeless in our city and those who work to care for them, we have these recommendations.
A homeless person in Shanghai will spend approximately 20 RMB per day on food. For one day a week (or more) “fast” by spending the same amount on your daily food intake.
To eat at the homeless do, you may also want consider following their daily schedule:
A local breakfast, one local meal out or at home (with fresh ingredients from their local wet market?), and a third shared communally with coworkers . . . consider cafeterias or free staff meals at your place of business.
You may also want to consider a “total” fast, which is no food (drink is allowed and encouraged, for e.g. water and fruit juice) If you are going to do a total fast we recommend that you do not fast for more than one day per week and that you try the “lunch to lunch” schedule thereby missing two meals. Furthermore, before fasting please consider your health and consult with your doctor.
In addition, before fasting, partial or total, pray about which fast you should do and how often. Consult your diary and be intentional, looking ahead and planning well. Remember the poor and pray when you are fasting; draw near to God. From Chris Seay: 1) Also Embrace and enjoy the food on Sundays, the “mini Easters”, 2) Approach this fast with a humble spirit, 3) Ask others to join you in the fast, 4) Acknowledge your desires and the things that God will show you while fasting, 5) Don’t compare yourself to others, let God speak to you as an individual, 6) Drink lots of water!