A Season to Seek God
One of the most amazing promises in the Bible is spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt. 7:7-8) By these words Christ assures us that no one who sincerely seeks God, and who persists in seeking God, will in the end be frustrated in that pursuit. God promises to be found by those who seek him.
The traditional season of Lent has historically been a time for Christians to devote their energy to seeking God. Lent (in Spanish “cuaresma”) begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for around 40 days, leading up to the celebration of Easter. Of course, like Christmas and Easter, Lent is not found in the Bible and Christians are not required to celebrate it. But many have found it helpful to have a season in their year when they focus on seeking a renewed and deeper communion with God.
Three main practices that help us to seek God are repentance, prayer, and fasting. The forms these practices take will vary from person to person. Some fast from food, others from entertainment or social media. Some people set aside extra time for meditating on Scripture and for prayer. Of course, fasting should never be viewed as a way to earn God’s love or attract his attention through self-imposed suffering. To treat fasting this way would be to forget the great news of the gospel – Christ has already done everything necessary for us to be loved and accepted by God. Fasting is merely a discipline of ridding ourselves from distractions so that our hearts are free to pursue a deeper intimacy with the Lord.
An old hymn dating back to the 6th Century expresses the thoughts of Christians who have benefited from this season of seeking God. The song says:
The glory of these forty days
we celebrate with songs of praise,
for Christ, through whom all things were made,
himself has fasted and has prayed.
Alone and fasting Moses saw
the loving God who gave the law,
and to Elijah, fasting, came
the steeds and chariots of flame.
So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
delivered from the lions' might,
and John, the Bridegroom's friend, became
the herald of Messiah's name.
Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
full oft in fast and prayer with thee;
our spirits strengthen with thy grace,
and give us joy to see thy face.
O Father, Son and Spirit blest,
to thee be every prayer addressed,
who art in threefold name adored,
from age to age, the only Lord.