A Lenten Encounter With God

23rd February 2022

by Revd Dave Mapes

Are you seeking a Lenten Encounter with God?
Lent provides us with a wonderful opportunity of a journey which can transform our spirituality and prepare us for the celebration of Easter.
Traditionally, the season of Lent is spent in recalling the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-12, Luke 4:1-13) following his baptism in the River Jordan by his cousin John (the Baptist).
In the desert, Jesus fasted, prayed and was tempted.
Some traditions encourage three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour. They are often referred to as the three pillars of Lent; prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
We are encouraged to engage in self-reflection, simplicity and sincerity.

Encountering God Through Christian Fasting(1)

Christian fasting can be explained as refraining from food for spiritual purposes and edification. Merely abstaining from food because it is not available or for medical causes does not equate to Christian fasting. There must be a spiritual motive and purpose for fasting as a Christian, especially the fasting of Lent.
In his book ‘A Hunger for God’, John Piper writes, ‘Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God, it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away.’
The purpose of fasting must be to draw closer to God.
Further information regarding fasting can be found here: How to Fast in Lent.

Encountering God Through Prayer

I wonder how you see and experience prayer. I’ve been greatly challenged and encouraged by David Benner’s book ‘Opening to God; Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer’. Benner suggests ‘there is something seriously wrong when it feels like something we should do.’ He continues, ‘The real problem at the core of the misunderstanding lies in thinking of prayer as something we do. Understood more correctly, prayer is what God does in us. Our part has much more to do with consent than initiative.’
He develops a deeper understanding of what prayer is. Prayer ‘is saying yes to God’s invitation to a loving encounter.’
So, in the context of fasting in Lent (or any other time we are fasting to draw close to God), maybe we can explore and experiment with some different ways to pray and encounter God. Benner says, ‘Prayer is the encounter of the true self and the true God. This is what gives prayer its transformational potential.’
If you’d like a list of Benner’s suggestions of what prayer can include, please ask via the church office (details below).

Encountering God Through The Bible

When we read Scripture, it’s important to get to know what the text is saying (i.e. what is in the Bible). More important is the process of reflecting on how we interpret the scriptures for ourselves and grow through the parallel situations today.
‘Not so much information as an experience of transformation, not so much explanation as Encounter itself.’ (2)

Encountering God Through Almsgiving

The Oxford Dictionary offers this definition:
(in historical or religious contexts) the practice of giving money or food to poor people: ‘benevolence in the form of almsgiving was encouraged’
Maybe Lent can be a time for us to review our sense of benevolence, as individuals, family and church.
Can Lent be a time to review our giving. I’m mindful that we can’t outgive our generous God, can we?

Engaging Alone Or With Others

We can take the Lenten journey alone and we can join with others to share experience, further deepen our spirituality as disciples and get to know each other at a deeper level.

Want to know more, join a group or have a coffee and chat? Let us know. You can contact us via the church office on 01962 881879 or


[2] From Richard Rohr’s ‘Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent’