But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.Matthew 6:6
I always start Lent zealously, excited for a much-needed season of spiritual renewal. I make grand plans of things to fast from, ways to pray, and acts of charity. However, I find that halfway through Lent, I’ve given up because I made excuses or claimed everything was too hard. I lose interest because the initial excitement of Lent wears off.
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Although Lent can be fruitful, this somber season isn’t necessarily enjoyable. Our fasts should be difficult, otherwise they wouldn’t be sacrifices. That’s why we give up things that we long for when we don’t have them. We acknowledge that things like desserts, social media, Disney+, shopping, and sleep are important to us, but so is God. Fasting helps us to detach ourselves from these earthly distractions so that we can focus on God.
It can be hard to find the time or even the motivation to pray or to do acts of charity. It’s easy to put ourselves first and spend our time as we please, but sacrifice involves our time, too. By spending our spare time in prayer, we say, “God, this time is precious to me, but I want you to have it because you deserve it.” Spending time doing acts of charity expresses the greatest love, laying down our lives for our friends. We give a gift of our self when we set aside our own interests to serve someone else or to just spend time with them.
A common question asked during this time of year is “What are you doing for Lent?” During these 40 days, I encourage you to remember the why not the what. If you determine your why before deciding your what, you’ll decide what and how to sacrifice more intentionally. Your why behind your fasting could be to intercede for a family member, to do penance for your sins, or just to grow closer to Jesus. When we remember our why, or the reasons behind our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, our Lent becomes so much more meaningful and fruitful. When Lent is half over and you feel yourself struggling, remember your why and pray for the strength to persevere in your Lenten sacrifices. Let’s remember our why throughout these 40 days and avoid Lent burnout together.