Why All Christians Should Observe Lent

Four reasons it matters.

Historically, Lent is the season preceding Easter in the church calendar, and it is often observed as a time of reflection and repentance. It is a season of preparation, a time of waiting and remembering.

But is Lent important? Is it worth observing—or at least acknowledging—especially if, like me, you’re not currently part of a liturgical church tradition?

I think so. Here are four reasons Lent matters—and how it can point us to the truth of the Gospel in practical, important ways:

Lent is a Reminder of Our Need to Repent

Repentance is not a sexy word; repentance is a call to turn around and away from our sinful ways. It means first acknowledging that we are sinners, and then saying no to our sin. But repentance is at the very heart of Christianity: we cannot, in fact, follow Jesus without repenting of our way and choosing His way instead (Acts 2:38).

Lent is a season of acknowledging our consistent, daily need to repent—and therefore, of our consistent need for a savior. It’s important to remember how desperately we need to be saved from our sin, and that Jesus is the only hope we have to be saved; that reality grounds us in His kindness and goodness.

Lent is a season of acknowledging our consistent, daily need to repent—and therefore, of our consistent need for a savior.

During Lent, We Pare Down Our Excesses

Traditionally, Christians have understood Lent to be a time when unneeded things are stripped away in order to remind us of our neediness before and for God. Christians still do this today, giving up meat or chocolate, or abstaining from alcohol or watching television.

By taking away things that divert our attention and feed our desires, the season of Lent invites us to attend to what is really happening on the inside of our souls—and to have our needs met by God first and only.

Lent Reminds Us of Our Humanity

When I was part of a liturgical church in college, I attended my first Ash Wednesday service, where I was marked with ash while hearing the words, “From dust you came, and to dust you will return.”

It felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me; it was a reminder of death. As a college student, I rarely thought about my own finiteness, my own frailty. But that declaration over me—that I started from dust and will return to dust—deeply humbled me, in the best of ways.

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Lent pointed me back to the truth that all of my value and all of my purpose comes from being a person made in the image of the God who created me and made the way for me to be saved. Apart from Him, I am dust; I am nothing and I have nothing. But because of His great love, my life is worth much more than dust.

Lent Sobers Us—in Order to Prepare Us for Celebration

Lent is a season of reflection—even of mourning—and that attitude flies in the face of the cultural waters most of us swim in. Sobering ourselves by confronting our own brokenness—by pausing our desire to keep things light and easy—is necessary if we want to celebrate the miraculous and life-altering message of Easter.

If we aren’t aware of our sinfulness and need, we won’t be able to comprehend the desperation of Good Friday or the world-changing truth of the Resurrection. Sobering our hearts and minds in preparation for Easter enables us to celebrate more deeply and joyfully, perhaps, than we would have without the solemnness of the season. Because knowing our true nature, knowing our need for Jesus—makes Easter the best and most necessary Good News we could ever hear.

Top Comments

Gibo Bravo


Gibo Bravo commented…

Aren't these things that we should always( day in day out) be present in our lives?

In the sense that our walk is a daily walk and that it not a seasonal one?

Eric pagan


Eric pagan commented…

For those uncomfortable with the title "Why all Christians should observe Lent", don't worry, the article never makes such a claim. It's common that editors (rather than authors) title articles.

Lent is the Church's historical season of preparation for Easter (when we celebrate the power of Jesus conquering death). Lent serves as an opportunity to meditate on the ways in which death still has power in our world and our lives, and to mourn and to repent appropriately.

I was raised (and serve as a pastor) in a tradition in which lent is not celebrated but as I've participated in Lenten services over the last 3 years at another local church (Ash Wednesday, Stations of the Cross, Good Friday), I've been blessed by the experience.

There need be nothing lacking in a Christian who doesn't practice lent, but it is a useful season historically recognized by Christians, and still strengthens and revitalizes the faith of many including myself! Personally it has enriched my faith and deepened my vision of God's grace.


Christoph Koebel


Christoph Koebel commented…

Lent is a Catholic tradition. Case closed.

Suzanne Graf Slupesky Beck


Suzanne Graf Slupesky Beck replied to Christoph Koebel's comment

Catholics are Christians, so why does that close the case?

Bryan Lee Davidson


Bryan Lee Davidson commented…

"Why all" is internet hyperbole often used in Relevant magazine. Not a legalistic dogma.

Charmayne Powell


Charmayne Powell commented…

Lent sounds like a wonderful way to honor God and strengthen one's Faith. However, my concern is that it suggests only a (season) of repentance, fasting, and reflection. Christians are called to live a "Lent lifestyle", to coin a phrase, everyday. Christians must be careful not to fall into (church tradition) like the Pharisees and Sadducees. Otherwise, their (heart) will be truly disconnected from obeying God by simply going through the motions.

God bless you!



tonymyles commented…

Lent can be powerful.

Sometimes we need to prod this with fresh ideas, though.


Chuck Eckerson


Chuck Eckerson commented…

I understand the comments that suggest Lenten practices ought to be a year-round, not a seasonal, way of life for Christians. But the truth is few, if any, of us can give proper focus on everything that is important all the time. Good intentions fail for lack of focus. And there is one of the beauties of the seasons (Lent included) in the Church calendar: it helps us focus on one important thing at a time so we can do it well.

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