The Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of the West, and Coordinating Bishop of CONNAM, the Rt Revd. Dr. Felix Orji has invited Christians as well as sinners to the observance of the holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; through prayer, fasting, self-denial, reading, and meditating on God’s Holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of their mortal nature.
According to bishop Orji, ‘the Bible pictures the Christian life as a battle, a race, a journey, a pilgrimage toward the holy city. If so, we can and should read them as God’s invitation to us to engage Him for our renewal and refreshment as pilgrims who have become weary. The signs of spiritual weariness are the pursuit of more power and advantage despite the chaos it might engender, loss of joy, passion, vision, nerve, and spiritual alertness, a feeling of divine absence, mild indifference to the things of God, and the proclivity to being at peace with your habitual sins, among others. The Lenten call is indeed a much-needed invitation from our loving heavenly Father because He wants to encourage us, refresh us, and re-fire us for the journey.
Bishop Orji also stated that spiritual disciplines, such as self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, meditating on and reading of God’s Word – are the Lord’s invitation to Christians to prepare for His blessing. Adding that they are the channels of God’s transforming, renewing, and awakening grace for weary pilgrims. As he invites all to embrace them wholeheartedly as gifts from a loving God who is also their Companion along the way.
These disciplines, he said, help Christians to discover and reject the sins that stand in the way of refreshment and transformation. Also enables them to see the things that stand in the way of renewal and blessing, things that contribute to their spiritual and moral weakness. As attentions are drawn to the sins and aspirations that hinder their prayers and hide the face of God. Adding that if all come honestly to God in self-examination and repentance, they are then able to see and turn away from their sinful thoughts and motives, gossip, lying, slander, hypocrisy, hatred, envy, bitterness, resentment, un-forgiveness, sexual sins, exploitation of others, pride, prejudice towards those who are different from them, fits of rage, and self-centeredness. These behaviors are repugnant to God and devastating for the spiritual life.
Bishop of Orji further stated that Prayer and fasting are means of receiving God’s blessing and being refreshed as the Bible clearly teaches in James 4:2, that effective praying and fasting require purity of motive, self-denial, and compassion (Matthew 6:1-18). Adding that the God-kind of fasting is one that is accompanied by repentance, obedience, love of God, and love of neighbor (Isaiah 58:5-10).
“Perhaps we are being called to not only fast from meat and food, but also from unbelief, fear, discouragement, hopelessness, cynicism, sarcasm, loose tongue, self-aggrandizement, and whatever else the Holy Spirit has been pointing out to you as a besetting sin and weight.
This Lent, I invite you to take the opportunity to build yourself up and grow in Christ. This Lent as well as the rest of the year and till the time you die, are gifts from God for our renewal and for our preparation to meeting Him with confidence. It is a time of refreshing, a time to get re-acquainted with the Father so that His face can shine on us. Through these disciplines, the Holy Spirit will cause us to remember who we are and how much we are indeed loved by God. He will remind us of the fact that we have been called and redeemed to enjoy and serve Christ and none else”.