An Ash Wednesday prayer and reflection. A day to remember your mortality and sinful nature. A day to begin a season of repentance and reflection.
Be sure to grab the free download of this printable Ash Wednesday prayer and reflection!
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lent season, traditionally observed as 40 days of prayer, fasting, and repentance in the days before Easter. In Ash Wednesday services, participants receive a blessing of ashes on their foreheads as a reminder of our mortality. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)”
The ashes are prepared by burning the palm fronds used the prior year’s Palm Sunday celebration. They represent death and repentance, a reminder that we are human – mortal, sinful, and in need of repentance.
Whether your church offers an Ash Wednesday service or observes Lent, you can enter into this season with prayer, reflection, and repentance. Taking a season each year to reflect on your life, confess your sins to God, and recommit to walking in God’s way is a powerful way to enter into Easter.
As we begin this Lenten season, take a few minutes to reflect and pray on Ash Wednesday (and maybe stop by a church for your ashes). Then, consider observing a Holy Lent with prayer, fasting, reflection, and repentance.
Ash Wednesday Prayer & Reflection
In many churches today, the pastor will use these words from the Book of Common Prayer to invite God’s people into the season of Lent:
Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great
devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and
it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a
season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided
a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy
Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of
notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful
were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to
the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation
was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set
forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all
Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the
observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning
of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now
kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
To begin your devotion and prayer time on this Ash Wednesday, start with a reading of scripture.
- Joel 2:1-2,12-17
- Psalm 103
- Matthew 6:1-6,16-21
Reflect upon these passages and this beginning of the Lent season:
- How will you observe this Lenten season?
- Will you commit to daily prayer, will you try fasting?
- What most often comes between you and God?
- How can you fast from that during Lent in order to give God your attention?
Respond with this Ash Wednesday prayer. Use the below scriptures and prayers as your prayer and devotion today.
Consider reading these aloud, or at least read them slowly. Don’t be tempted to skim through the passages, but instead listen closely to each word with your heart and soul. Allow these verses and prayers to permeate and move your heart today.
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly;
bring together the elders,
gather the children,
those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride her chamber.
Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
weep between the portico and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17 NIV)
Collect for Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Ash Wednesday, Book of Common Prayer)