During Lent, Christians should think of fasting and praying as a way to honor God, not as legalistic behavior, a Christian author told Fox News Digital. 

In childhood, it is common to think of God as a “cosmic Santa Claus,” Laura Gallier told Fox News Digital in an emailed message. Gallier is a Houston-based author and host of the podcast “Fearless and Free: Spirit, Soul, Body.” 

God, said Gallier, was akin to “a stranger I could never know,” who observed how she behaved, “keeping an impeccable record of how naughty or nicely.” 

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While Gallier said she outgrew the equating of God to Santa Claus, her “assumptions about God lasted long into adulthood.” 

She told Fox News Digital, “Suffice it to say, it’s intuitive to human nature to strive to earn divine approval through white-knuckle efforts at being good. When we inevitably fail, the sense of shame makes us grateful God keeps an invisible, sanitary distance from us.”

It is normal, said Gallier, to “try to compensate for our moral mishaps by doing noble things.” 

Yet thoughts of “noble things” should not be the motivation why people fast during Lent, she said. 

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Lent, she said, is “a seasonal tradition of sacrificing something savory for 40 days to show God we’re not entirely bad.” 

It can be tempting, she said, to feel a sense of smugness when others fail at their Lenten fasts — and to carry this attitude of superiority throughout the year. 

“As for the rest of the year, surely God sees how pure our intentions are — most of the time — and that’s bound to count for something,” she said. “Right?” 

This, however, is not biblical.

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“If it’s the God of all Creation we seek to please, a disciplined performance will never suffice,” she said. “Jesus debunked the delusion that we can earn right-standing with God the Father through human effort.”

If it were possible to attain a holy life through good deeds and behavior, Jesus would have had no reason to die for the sins of humanity, said Gallier.

“Why bear our shame if our good deeds can compensate?” 

The truth is, said Gallier, “God wants to know us and be known by us. He is not far from us and bids us through Christ to come close to Him, into His very presence.” 

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She continued, “As for that dreaded naughty-nice ledger of legalism we’ve carried in our conscious our whole lives, it’s forever shredded at the cross.” 

Instead of viewing our Lenten practices as legalistic behavior, they should be seen as ways to honor and worship God. 

“Our only reasonable motive for moral living and doing good things, including fasting during Lent, is to honor and draw near to God in love,” she said. 

This love, and these actions, are done “in responsiveness to His pursuit of a deeper, all-satisfying relationship with us,” said Gallier.

As she also says on her website, (lauragallier.com), “God is a loving, forgiving God, and His biblical standards are for my protection — and yours.”

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