Last week I wrote about how during Lent, there is a natural temptation to focus on food – what we can eat and what we can’t eat… what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. And while it’s certainly important to follow the Church-prescribed instructions for fasting (self-prescribed is always dangerous, especially in the spiritual realm where it is very easy to deceive oneself), the goal is not the fasting.
Fasting is a means to an end, but it is not the end in and of itself. If fasting were the end goal, then Jesus would have praised the Pharisee and condemned the Publican, but instead He did the opposite (see Luke 18:9-14).
So if fasting shouldn’t be the focus of Lent, what should be? Where should my attention be focused?
I have been asking this question for the past two weeks and the answer has been overwhelmingly clear. God wants me to fast, but He doesn’t want me to be obsessed by fasting. God wants me to do charitable deeds, but He doesn’t want me to be consumed by those charitable deeds. God wants me to go to church, but He doesn’t want me to be fooled into thinking that going to church means that I am actually growing in my relationship with Him.
All of those things – while important and essential to a life in fellowship with God – are not to be the central focus of this season. So what is the focus????
The answer is PRAYER.