Q. What is the purpose of Lent and how did it originate? And if we tell somebody what we are doing for Lent, with the purpose of having them keep us in prayer for the 40 days, is that considered a bad thing?
A. The word Lent comes from a Germanic root meaning Spring but is more often associated with the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday. It originated in the Babylonian pagan religion, but was folded into Christianity when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion.
Here’s how it began. According to tradition Semeramis, the wife of Nimrod the King of Babylon, claimed she had been supernaturally impregnated by the Sun god and gave birth to Tammuz. One day while hunting, Tamuz was killed by a wild boar. Semeramis mourned for 40 days, at the end of which Tammuz was supposedly brought back from the dead. She proclaimed herself Queen of Heaven, founded a celibate priesthood to worship her son and declared its chief priest infallible, and memorialized her mourning in an annual 40 day period of denial. It was the world’s first counterfeit of the Biblical story of the Redeemer and grew into a mother-child cult that was duplicated in almost every pagan mythology.
If you feel the Lord is leading you into a 40 day period of self-deprivation to draw nearer to Him, more power to you. But if you’re just observing a tradition of man’s religion it won’t serve any purpose except to prove that you can go without something for 40 days.
Ask the Lord for guidance in this and follow the leading of His Holy Spirit.