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What is Lent?

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a time when millions of Christians around the world take time to draw closer to God and reflect in the lead up to Easter. The 40 days of Lent is when we remember the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting and praying. It was during these 40 days that Jesus made the choice to work in God’s way, however hard that might be.

What does Lent mean?
The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “spring.” In Middle English is derived the words, lenten, lente, lent; related to the Dutch, lente, the German, Lenz, also rendered “spring.” In Old German lenzin, lengizin, and lenzo are related words, which probably comes from the same root as “long” and referring to “the lengthening days,” as the earth moves from the winter solstice toward the spring equinox.

Why is Lent 40 days?
40 is a significant number in the Bible:

In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain. The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the promised land. Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai. Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.

Lent 2020 is taking place between 26 February – 9 April.

What to do for Lent?
Some Christians from more orthodox or traditional denominations fast during Lent. They begin with the wearing of ashes on Ash Wednesday and give up meat, fish, eggs and more for the 40 day period. Others choose to give up comforts or luxuries such as chocolate, junk food, social media or television.

For many Christians, Lent is a time where they make space to pray, read the Bible and reflect on God’s love. This Lenten season, Compassion has partnered with singer-songwriter Philippa Hanna to offer a free series of Lent devotionals from her new book Amazing You.

For some of us the prospect of 40 days of giving up something can be daunting. That’s why we’re sharing devotionals for Lent about remaining upbeat and focused to encourage you in your faith walk.

What is Shrove Tuesday?
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent begins, otherwise known as Ash Wednesday.

Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was a day where Christians could reflect on the sins they needed to repent of before the Lenten season began. The name Shrove comes from the old middle English word ‘Shriven’ meaning to go to confession to say sorry for the wrong things you’ve done.

Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day which comes from the old English custom of using up all the fattening ingredients before Lent, so that people were ready to fast. The fattening ingredients that most people had in their houses were eggs and milk, hence why people began combining them with flour to make pancakes.

What is the first day of Lent called?
Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday opens Lent and takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It’s chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians mark it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting.

What is Holy week?
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter, and is the week during which Christians particularly remember the last week of Jesus’s life. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday which commemorates Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter where Christians remember the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Good Friday is the day on which Christians remember Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. Then Easter Sunday is the day on which Jesus rose from his tomb.

Lent is such a special season. It’s a time to take a break from the busyness of life and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness. I hope these devotions and lent prayers from ‘Amazing You’ help you grow in your relationship with God.

Philippa Hanna

Lent Calendar

Lent day 1

You’re Not Bound By This World

Lent day 2

Keep An Eye On The Dashboard

Lent day 3

Ask For Prayer

Lent day 4

Ask For Help

Lent day 5

Don’t Compare Fires

Lent day 6

Describe Yourself On A Good Day

Lent day 7

Being Refined, Part One

Lent day 8

Being Refined, Part One

Lent day 9

The Wonderful Counsellor

Lent day 10

Deal With Anxiety

Lent day 11

Don’t Let Sadness Sink In

Lent day 12

One Day At A Time

Lent day 13

Beware Negativity

Lent day 14

Capture Beauty

Lent day 15

Editing, Part One

Lent day 16

There’s No Easy Life

Lent day 17

Seek Joy

Lent day 18

Keep It Real

Lent day 19

Do What You Love

Lent day 20

What You Need Is Right There

Lent day 21

Say Thank You

Lent day 22

Failure Isn’t Final

Lent day 23

Failure Gives Us Space

Lent day 24

Failure Is Out Of Our Control

Lent day 25

Failure Is A Full Backpack

Lent day 26

Failure Is Discovery

Lent day 27

Fail Well

Lent day 28

Seasons Of Failure

Lent day 29

Keep Sowing

Lent day 30

Everybody Hurts

Lent day 31

Choose Good Heroes

Lent day 32

Better, Not Bitter

Lent day 33

Keep A Prayer Journal

Lent day 34

Have Fun On The Journey

Lent day 35

Don’t Pout

Lent day 36

Do Less, Be More

Lent day 37

The Darkest Hour Is before The Dawn

Lent day 38

All That Glitters Ain’t Gold

Lent day 39

Be Careful What You Call A Bad Day

Lent day 40

Thank God For Closed Doors

Lent day 41

Mining For Gems

Lent day 42

Recommit Your Plans To God

Lent day 43

Your Efforts Aren’t A Waste

Lent day 44

Climb For The View

Lent day 45

Count Your Blessings

Lent day 46

Hold Out For Something Better

Lent day 47

Let Those Tears Fall


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Find out more about Philippa Hanna

We're so thankful to Philippa Hanna for letting us share the devotions from her year-long devotional book, 'Amazing You'.

Discover more Lent resources

If you've enjoyed our Lent with Philippa Hanna devotionals, you may also be interested in other resources for the Lent season:

Lent Bible verses

Let this collection of Lent scriptures remind you that when we seek God, we will find Him.

Read more >

Easter Bible verses

These 15 famous Easter Bible verses remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for every one of us.

Read more >

Lent for kids

Download our free Lent for kids planner. Discover Lenten prayers for children and other great resources to help your family engage this Lent season. 

Read more >
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