In President's Messages, United News

2021 Lent Devotion

“Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights…” — Matthew 4:2

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness by himself, where he fasted and prayed for forty days and nights to discern God’s will for his life. For centuries, the followers of Jesus have observed the 40 days before Easter as a time of fasting and prayer as we seek to discern God’s will for our lives.

Fasting usually refers to a time of not eating or drinking in order to focus our attention on praying and seeking the will of God. John Wesley fasted two days every week (Wednesday and Friday) in order to keep focused on God. I often fast and pray when I am facing a challenging decision to try to listen more closely to God’s will.

However, fasting is not only about not eating or drinking. It can also be about abstaining from negative thoughts and attitudes and focusing on loving God and neighbor with our whole being.

The following 11 ideas for fasting during Lent, attributed to Pope Francis, are practices that encourage followers of Jesus to become more Christ-like in thought, word and action:

  1. Fast from saying hurting words and saying kind words.
  2. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  3. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  5. Fast from worries and trust in God.
  6. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
  7. Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  8. Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
  9. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
  10. Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  11. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

I have decided to practice one of these “fasts” each day during Lent to help me become a more faithful follower of Jesus Christ. What negative attitudes do we all need to let go of so God can work more fully in and through us during this season of Lent?

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Kent Millard
United Theological Seminary

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A view of a church in a city near the waterPhoto of David Watson