The season of Lent spans a 40-day period beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending the Saturday before Easter. Now, if you’re astute about the calendar, you realize that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter! So why is Lent considered 40 days? It’s because the six Sundays that occur during this time don’t count. (That’s why you may hear a reference to the Sundays in Lent, rather than the Sundays of Lent.)
Forty also is a very significant number in the Bible. For instance, Scripture tells us that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness struggling with temptation. Before the flood mentioned in Genesis, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.
What I also find significant is that most personal trainers, psychologists and coaches will tell you that it takes between 30 and 40 days (give or take a few) to “re-train” yourself in a new habit. So if you decide to eat healthier, or start exercising, or commit to flossing your teeth every day, it takes somewhere around 40 days to really get that routine ingrained in your life. That means when we commit to a spiritual habit for 40 days, we may actually be able to integrate that into our minds in a meaningful and significant way.
Teresa Angle-Young is a pastor who is simply seeking God, loving neighbors, and trying to follow Jesus.