The horizon—the color of ashes—promises a storm. The muddled snow, which had been melting, is arrested by the returning cold.

Lent, a somber season, seems the practice even of my leafless gray and brown northern landscape. Not a hint of indulgence, celebration, or color can be seen.

"What are you giving up for Lent?" can be heard in even casual conversations, between people who normally give religion wide topical berth, as if picking up again last month's chatter about New Year's resolutions. We give up things we really never needed anyway, but like those resolutions, our Lenten disciplines may fall aside before Good Friday arrives.

As leaders, we often pray for those we lead. But do we ever fast for them? Do we consider fasting (giving up something for a spiritual purpose) to be similar to a New Year's resolution, or could it be something more?

Fasting during this 40-day season was originally practiced to help us remember the suffering and temptations of Christ. It is a time ...

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