• Bishop Donald Hilliard Jr

LENTEN SEASON: We begin with Ash Wednesday

What Is Lent?

Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020) marks the beginning of Lent, a season of repentance and preparation for Resurrection Sunday (Easter). The day derives its name from the ancient practice of marking the foreheads of worshippers with ashes. These ashes are from unused palm branches of the previous year. Ashes are Old Testament symbols of sadness and humility. Ashes also remind us of our own mortality. This season stresses theimportance of developing the “inner man;” the spiritual over the physical. Our bodies andmaterial possessions eventually will turn to dust. The spirit will live on. Hallelujah!To fast is to abstain from anything that hinders our communion with God. In the most general sense, it means to abstain from certain foods. Fasting is not designed to be an affliction of the human body so that God will take notice (Isaiah 58:3). Fasting does not pressure God into action. It is the discipline of the human appetite for dedication, obedience and the cultivation of faith (Mark 9:19, 20). Abstinence from food brings the body into subjection and enhances control over fleshly desires. Fasting is to affect the one who is fasting. However, many times people fast for other people and results come. The thing that occurs is that by self-dedication the abstained becomes dedicated to a burden and God answers the prayer of sacrifice.There are various opinions as to what constitutes a fast. Some of these are as follows: total abstinence from all food and drink (Acts 9:9), abstaining from food while partaking ofwater, and abstinence from one’s favorite foods (Daniel 10:3). There are those who practiceshort fasts of total abstinence and others who fast longer with water intake. Remember, common sense should be used in fasting. It is unwise to fast for long periods when excessive physical exercise is demanded. Also, the fast should be ended with caution forthe sake of the body’s adjustment. There are cases where people have fasted for forty days, and under the observation of a doctor have done no harm to their physical being.Many victories of ancient Biblical days were won through the saints of God consecrating themselves in fasting and prayer.The church of today must recognize the necessity of the fast. Christians who desire greater faith and power must fast and pray. Jesus warned His disciples that miracle-working faith comes through prayer and fasting (Mark 9:14-29). God’s church must have power to meetthe needs of society. Fasting and prayer are channels of this power. Therefore, the secret of power and divine direction throughout the history of the church is based upon prayer and fasting. God honors fasting!In addition, prayer is an inseparable companion of fasting, the two must be united (Matthew 6:5, 6:16-18). Fasting positions the believer for God’s will that is sought throughthe petition of prayer. Fasting conditions man and prayer touches the heart of God.

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