Lent: Will you enter into Jesus’ suffering by looking Godward and outward?

February 14 marks the first day of this year's season of Lent.

Redemption Hill Church // February 14, 2024, 6:09 pm


During Lent, "we are learning to be a people who recognise the counterfeit gods of our heart, how desperately in need of a Saviour we are, and to rejoice in Christ's resurrection power", says Pastor Jacob Ng, Assistant Lead Pastor at Redemption Hill Church. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

As with Advent, we want to be intentional about observing Lent.

Advent was about anticipating and longing. We were learning to be people who wait in hope for our Saviour who came once and will come again. The four weeks of Advent led us into Christmas.

Lent is about entering with Christ in His suffering. We are learning to be a people who recognise the counterfeit gods* of our heart, how desperately in need of a Saviour we are, and to rejoice in Christ’s resurrection power.

The 40 days of Lent (this year starting February 14) will lead us into Good Friday and Easter.

Lent has been observed by the church for centuries. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are part of the universal church – people from every tribe, tongue and nation, observing this season together to delight in Jesus?

We are mindful of the culture we swim in, particularly in Singapore with our societal ideals of comfort, pragmatism, and materialism. Lent is counter-cultural – it is a rhythm in our church calendar to help us respond to the Gospel through practising spiritual disciplines.

As a Church, we can practise Lent by looking Godward through prayer and fasting, and outward through compassion and mercy. 

Paul writes in Philippians: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” (Philippians 1:29)

Shall we endeavour to be shaped by spiritual disciplines in the 40 days starting today (February 14), not seeing them as burdensome or to be avoided, but as opportunities to enter with Christ in his suffering?

We pray that God would meet us not just individually, but corporately, as a Church who truly desires to seek Him as our greatest need and joy.

Looking Godward through prayer and fasting

Prayer and fasting go hand in hand.

As Christians, our goal for prayer is to grow in our reliance on and delight in God.

Paul Miller in A Praying Church writes: “I do these morning prayer times not from discipline but from learned desperation. I am constant in corporate prayer because the Jesus communities I’m in are constant in need.

“I have no interest in doing anything that hasn’t been prayed for and prayed over. What I pray over lasts, and what I don’t pray over doesn’t last.

“But there’s more: A Jesus community is characterised by wonder, and the conduit to that is prayer. I’ve seen what happens when the Spirit of Jesus inhabits a community – everything starts to sparkle.

“Praying together is not a luxury, nor is something just for ‘spiritual’ Christians; it’s the very breath of the church.

“A Jesus community is characterised by wonder, and the conduit to that is prayer.”

“When we grasp the simplicity of prayer > Spirit > Jesus > wonder, then praying together won’t be just another burden; it will be the activity that transforms all your burdens.”

Our goal for fasting is to reduce our reliance on the things of this world and redirect our desires toward God.

Secular fasting is a denial of self; Christian fasting is a dependence on God.

A devotional by Immanuel Nashville Church describes it in this way: “Along with prayer, fasting is not merely a religious ritual or intermittent forgoing of food. it is a practice of dependence and worship. And while not everyone can wisely or healthily fast from food, each of us can fast from some voluntary pleasure and turn that desire toward God, our provider.

“When we fast we:
• forfeit good things, not evil things.
• keep our preferences and desires sharp and on high alert.
• are reminded of our desperate need for God.
• experience a reminder of the aching and longing we often suppress within our souls.
• turn our appetites and desires toward God, the inexhaustible source of goodness.

“Fasting is a gift that helps sharpen our awareness of God and His goodness.

“We are not fasting in order to gain God’s attention but in order for us to be more aware of Him and His eagerness to supply our every need in Christ for His glory and our joy.”


1. Consider how you approach prayer. Do you tend to focus on yourself or a particular type of prayer, for instance, petitions? How could you be conscious about expanding who you pray for and the types of prayers you make?

2. Consider how God may be leading you to fast during this season. Perhaps it is something we find difficult to live without (for instance, skipping a meal) or something we find comfort in to relax (for example, media or alcohol). How can you fast and turn to God in reliance instead?

3. Consider what you are reliant on. What are some familiar comforts? What aspects of your life do you feel that you could consider a fast during the season of Lent?

Practical Steps for Prayer

• Try practising different types of prayer (adoration, thanksgiving, petition, intercession).
• Try praying prayers written by saints of old.

• Pray with your cell group mates or one-to-one with a fellow believer.
• Join your church prayer rhythms, such as corporate prayer and worship events.

Practical Steps for Fasting

  • Fast from one meal a day where your hunger for food can be turned into a time of prayer of sustenance from God. Take that mealtime to meet up or call a cell group mate or friend who is also fasting and pray together.
  • Fast from a selected media that you may turn to in order to de-stress and find joy in. Each time you want to check it (for example, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Netflix), turn that into a cue to talk with God instead.

Looking outward through compassion and mercy

Our goal for compassion and mercy is to love our neighbours, especially those suffering and in need, as Christ loves us.

It is to be attentive to the suffering and needs around us, be present with the love of Christ and be willing to respond by giving generously of our time, talents and resources.


1. How does reflecting on the mercy you’ve received from Christ compel you to show mercy to those in need around you?

2. What tends to prevent you from showing compassion and mercy to those in need?

Bring these before God and ask Him to speak His truth into them.

Practical steps

1. Read and meditate on The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

2. Set aside 10 minutes in your week to:

  • Arrive early to church. Quieten your heart and ask the Lord to open your eyes to, or bring to mind, those in the church body who may be suffering or in need in some way. Pray over what you notice.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood where you live or work. Observe and notice people, pay attention to needs and injustices that may stand out to you. Try to consider different layers of practical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Pray over what you notice.
  • Take one intentional step forward to respond to a need. Consider committing a portion of your time, lending some of your skills or talents, or sharing a slice of your resources.

For instance, chat with someone you know who is actively extending compassion or mercy to those in need and ask how you can help. Introduce yourself to someone you notice on your walk. Set aside time to pray or resources to support Kingdom partners.


*”A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.” (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods)

The article is adapted from “Lent: Entering into Jesus’ Suffering: His Glory, Our Joy” by Redemption Hill Church. It is republished with permission.


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About the author

Redemption Hill Church

Redemption Hill Church is guided by the values of being Gospel-centred, pursuing theological depth, encouraging experiential faith, being a community on a Mission and seeing city renewal.