Lent is a part of the Christian liturgy, or "set form of ceremony or pattern of worship" [wikipedia.org]. It is the part of the Christian calendar leading up to Easter, and consists of 40 days and 40 nights of self-denial, such that the believer partakes in and sympathizes with the trials and sufferings of Christ.
I am a Protestant, and a Southern Baptist, specifically. We generally believe that we do not need liturgy, as it is not something prescribed by Scripture, but by tradition. My church does not observe Lent, and I have never had a reason to observe it before.
As a tradition, I think it too often becomes something that "Everyone does" (as I heard a girl say in the cafeteria). But I bet if you asked those people why they did it, they wouldn't be able to tell you. They'd say "Everyone does it" and that explanation would have to suffice.
I never want to worship God out of empty tradition, when my heart is not in it.
In Isaiah 29:13, God says "These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." (NIV)
I do not want God to say this of me, so I think it is good that I have never observed Lent until now, as it would have been empty and meaningless. While I had no heart for God or His Word my sacrifices could not have pleased Him, but now that my heart is growing, and I better understand God's love and sacrifice, I believe that my sacrifices, as a ways of worshiping God, are indeed pleasing to Him, if I give them out of pure motives and a cheerful heart.
Therefore, I am observing Lent this year. It began Wednesday, February 17th. My sacrifice is taking variable forms throughout the next 40 days, as I identify different things I can give up for the sake of denying myself and better-understanding the gift of Christ's death for the remission of sins.
Some of the things I have already identified (to remind myself):
1. Food purchased with my DalCard (hot chocolate, coffee, pizza, etc.)
2. Novels (I tend to obsess over them to the point of neglecting my school work and Bible study)
4. FarmVille (and other online games)
5. Puzzles in the Newspaper (I tend to obsess over these until I finish them)
LENT UPDATE [March 18, 2010]
I was doing well until a week or two ago, when I somewhat gave up the task. Even now, though, it is good for me, for I realize how weak-willed I am on my own without full reliance on the Spirit of God within to direct me.
To God alone be the glory.