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    Sunday School: Are You Fasting for Lent?

    Girlies, are you familiar with Lent? Lent is a 40- to 46-day period (depending on whether you count Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Contrary to popular belief, Lent is not a “Catholic-only” observance; many Protestant denominations also celebrate Lent, and those that don’t officially observe Lent often will still observe a period of fasting.

    Lent is a time of fasting, moderation and repentance. During Lent, many people give up certain foods or habits, and some give up food entirely and instead focus on repenting for sinful behaviors and surrendering to God. To the best of my knowledge and research, there is nothing specifically mentioned in the Bible that directly supports Lent; however, the Bible talks about fasting and repentance in many places:

    • When Nehemiah heard about the destruction of Jerusalem.

    When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I ws fasting and praying before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:4).

    • When Israel confessed their sin to the Lord.

    Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God (Nehemiah 9:1-3).

    For six hours Israel stood and read from the book of the law, and for another six hours, they just stood and worshiped God while they were fasting!

    • The Lord, through the prophet Joel, calls His people to a time of fasting and repentance.

    ‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning’ (Joel 2:12).

    • The apostle Paul fasted and prayed after his conversion on the road to Damascus.

    And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank (Acts 9:9).

    • Jesus noted that certain areas of spiritual warfare can only be overcome by fasting and prayer, when He cast out a particularly ornery demon.

    And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So He said to them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting’ (Mark 9:28-29).

    There are many benefits to fasting and the Bible calls us to repent of our sins regularly. Repentance is the real focus of Lent; the point of a fast is to give up something in order to focus more clearly on God. You can find more tips on fasting in The Teenager’s Guide to Fasting.

    I prayed hard about what to fast for Lent and for how long, and I decided on a Daniel fast, which is fruit, vegetables and water only. Since I’ve never done one of these, I will probably start with just a week.

    What about you girls–are you fasting anything during Lent this year?

    ‘But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you’ (Matthew 6:17-18).

    For more Sunday School with your fellow PI girls, click here!

    More Stories Like This on Project Inspired:
    Sunday School: Is God Exposing the Motivations of Your Heart?
    Sunday School: Two Practical Tips to Avoiding Temptation
    Sunday School: Is Fear a Sin?

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit jenniferarman.com for more on her work. You can also connect with her on www.facebook.com/JenniferArman.Writer and https://twitter.com/JennArman

    27 COMMENTS

    1. I have never done anything for Lent, simply because I don’t know much about it. The church that I go to has never really mentioned it, and really I only just recently heard of it at all.

      I almost fasted completely last year at Yom Kippur, as it was the first year that I was old enough to observe it. However, I was afraid that I was going to faint if I didn’t eat something. My blood sugar got too low. It was rather frustrating, actually. I had been really hoping to fast the entire day, and my health got in the way… Ah well, I’ll try again this year.

      My sister has done a Daniel fast before, although not for Lent. She did the fast after studying Daniel back in middle school. I think her fast was more of a sugar fast, actually…

      • I have low blood sugar so I know how you feel. I can’t even go an hour past my eating schedule without almost passing out, so fasting food is not an option for me. I am fasting my ipod touch. I feel like lent is a good time to just give up something that you use a lot or that you think about often. Last year, I gave up wearing pants and only wore skirts. it was hard but it made me think about it every time I got dressed. and with fasting my ipod, I can’t text people so I have more time to myself and time to spend with God. I have to buckle down and turn on the computer, and I have been thinking of things to do instead. hope this helped!

    2. I have also never done anything for Lent before, but my Bible Study group and I decided that instead of giving up food, we wanted to give up something that we spend to much time with and was separating us for God. I gave up straightening my hair because I usually straighten it every day and if I’m running behind, I won’t do my quiet time and I realized I was drifting away from God. Some of my friends have given up Instagram, TV, sleep in the morning so they can have a quiet time, and certain TV shows.
      This has helped me to focus more on inner beauty and spend more quality time with God. I know that it’s technically not fasting because its not fasting from food, but we thought that we would benefit more from this.
      I recommend you girls try it! Its difficult sometimes, but God has given us the strength to do it and we have all seen a difference. Let me know if any of you decide to try this! 🙂

    3. I’m Catholic and the only time I fast is Good Friday. I thought about fasting once a week for Lent, but I was afraid that once I started track practice I might pass out or something. I like fasting because every time you get hungry,you think of Jesus, and why you’re fasting. Plus, Lent is when Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days.

    4. I’ve never fasted for Lent before because I get sick if I don’t eat and I pass out. But my sister gave up pop and is having caffine withdrawls! She still hasn’t drank any yet though! I’m going to try to not chew gum, because I know it’s bad for my teeth.

        • I don’t mean that as an offense, I still have a problem with fasting at the beginning of fasts because I’m used to eating meat.

    5. I’m giving up PINTEREST! ARGH! Clearly a decision like this was made last-minute and I miss it but have also of course found better uses of my time. But still. My church (Presbyterian) doesn’t fast/give anything up as a whole but I’m sure more individuals than myself take part. But yeah…this is hard! Good, but hard!

    6. I’m thinking about fasting on Good Friday. I was going to do it last year but my cousin had her wedding shower around that day and so we were so busy running around everywhere and it just didn’t work out. But this year might work!

    7. Our church makes a pretty big deal of it- not that it’s required, just that it’s something we talk about a lot. I normally give something up, but I don’t feel that it really advances the purpose of focusing more on God for me, so I’m not sure what I’m doing this year, if anything. I wanted to try to be more intentional about complimenting others by writing a compliment on other people’s wall on facebook, but I’m not sticking to it very well. I have made a habit of complimenting people anyway, so it’s just hard to remember to get on someone’s wall to do it. So… I really don’t have a clue.

    8. I’m trying to give up candy for lent because I eat wayyy too much! It’s been super hard though because I can only eat it on Sundays.

      Also i’m going to try to fast for a whole day!!!! Not completely, I’ll have crackers and juice but I want to see how it is to fast!

      • If you want to experience fasting, look up a Lenten cookbook. There’s pasta, vegan pancakes, vegan waffles (basically vegan pancakes, only crunchier because they’ve been put into a waffle iron), and there are even Lenten desserts such as fudge cake, but for us it turned out more as a fudge soup, and oreos, dark chocolate (as long as it doesn’t have milk in it), and cereal and oatmeal.

    9. I am Baptist, so as a church we do not take part of Lent. We can if we want to though, we just do not recognize it as a church. I think that Lent can be a good thing, if we do it correctly. Many churches today just do it because its a ritual. Christ is not about rituals, its about a relationship. Yes, many people give up things, but they’re just doing it because they have to, not everyone does that though so there are exceptions. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, just my thoughts. (:

      • Really? I’m baptist too! And yes I totally agree with your view. I don’t think it should be a once a year thing either. You’re supposed to be giving things up all the time to get closer to God not just a certain time of year.

    10. Depending on your church, you are required to fast during Lent. In Orthodoxy, you give up meat and dairy for 40 days (milk if you’re still growing, meat if you’re little, both if you’re pregnant, but chocolate and sweets are off limits), in traditional Catholic denominations you are required to fast as well. It can be hard to convince oneself of this, but fasting is a good thing. It is to take your mind off of the body and lift it to spirituality. The regular fasting nowadays is giving up something like soda or a certain candy you like.

    11. One of my pet peeves with people during this time of year is that some people give up things that they shouldn’t do anyways. Like there are people who give up gossiping for Lent, and I’m certain that there are people who give up pre marital sex for Lent. That is entirely not the point of Lent, those are things you shouldn’t do at ALL, not just give them up for Lent and gossip with your neighbors on Easter. Due to the fact that Orthodoxy and traditional Catholicism aren’t really that publicized in American anymore, no one really knows what traditional fasting is anymore. YES: we give up meat and dairy. No: we don’t survive on bread and juice for 40 days, if we did that we’d probably be dead by now. We have pasta, we have vegan recipes, we even have desserts, you just replace milk with soy milk or even soda, light soda like 7UP for pancakes for example, along with dark chocolate, Oreos, and other desserts like that as long as it doesn’t have milk in it. If you’re interested in traditional fasting, Google ‘Lenten Cookbook’.

    12. I would love to give something up for Lent, but I simply can’t think of anything suitable. Most of what I’ve thought of are things that I use often for something important. For example, I use Facebook to ask for homework help. Any ideas on what I can give up?

      • DancerforChrist – If you watch television, you could give that up. As a dancer, you probably listen to a lot of music, you could try giving up music for Lent or maybe just a certain type of music. A friend of mine once fasted having an opinion! He spent all of Lent refusing to give his personal opinion on any situation.

        You could fast from saying anything negative and instead make this a time when you don’t say anything that isn’t uplifting to another person. There are lots of options, get creative 🙂

        I hope these ideas help you decide what you’d like to fast this year!

        • I started doing Lent, I am fasting and staying away from dairy and meat. I am having trouble finding recipes and a cookbook I can get online that doesnt need to be bought. I am skinny and I dont want to loose to much weight, how can I do this? I heard on some site that Lent is when u have 1 meal in the evening with no diary and no meat, if this is the case, I am not quite sure if I can do that without going to emergency…. my body already had a hard time off meat when I tried being vegan for half a year… Please help I dont know what to do… Please pray for me also…

        • and by one meal in the evening I mean thats the only meal you are allowed… Im already havng difficulty with the no meat and no diary fasting along with no eggs! lol so many things have eggs in them! Please help, help is appreciated 🙂

    13. why only lent for a certain amount of period? Why not lent for the rest of our lives? Extreme? Yeah. But shouldn’t we be willing to give up that most important thing to the One who gave us everything? Everyday we should be submit our lives, even through it’s hard to..☆

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