The Lenten Journey of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

By Christine Warner
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As we journey through the Lenten season, we can renew our zeal for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving by reflecting on Jesus’ own suffering and temptations. If we ever feel reluctant or discouraged in our own Lenten sacrifices, we can turn to the severity of the trials He experienced during the 40 days He spent in the desert fasting and praying.

These excerpts from the gospels of Luke, Matthew, and Mark can guide us in our prayer and penance throughout the Lenten season. We can use the accounts of Jesus’ journey and temptations to focus our own Lent, in which we experience temptation, humility, and trust in the Lord — all to become stronger witnesses to Him.

We Resist Temptation

The account of the Temptation of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke explains the extreme fasting Jesus took upon Himself for 40 days. Although His body was weakened, His spirit was strengthened. We see this in the way He resists the devil’s temptations — of food and power — after the extended period of solitude and sacrifices He experienced.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”  – Luke 4: 1 – 4, New American Standard Bible

We Grow In Humility

After the devil’s unsuccessful efforts to tempt Jesus to break His fast and assume worldly kingship, he then tries to test His divine trust. In the same way, we should assume a greater spirit of humility throughout Lent — aware of our sins and weaknesses and grateful for God’s endless mercy.

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” – Matthew 4: 8 – 10, NASB

We Hold On to Trust

In the final temptation, the devil hopes to make Jesus question the protection of His Father. He doesn’t give in, and instead expresses His ceaseless trust. If He trusts God the Father, there’s no need to test Him. Similarly, we should continue to trust God with complete faith — without any doubt or desire to test His love.

And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.  – Mark 4: 8 – 10, NASB

As we journey through Lent, let us return to the gospel accounts of Jesus’ trials and temptations in the desert — before He even began His ministry. We should view Lent as a time to strengthen our spirit and faith through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We will then be better equipped to share and witness to the Word.

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