Whenever you fast, do not put on a dull face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face – Matthew 6: 16-17
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent which falls forty six days before Easter. Since it is the first day of Lent, many Christians begin Ash Wednesday by marking a Lenten calendar, praying a Lenten daily devotional and making a Lenten sacrifice that they will not partake of until the arrival of Eastertide.
Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants.The ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and are meant as a reminder of our mortal existence, for we have been created from dust and thus, will return to dust.
Lent takes 40-days (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. This 40-day period is meant to mark Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness. Where he fasted and where the Devil tempted him.
In this period of Lent, believers are expected to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, consequently followed by a celebration of Christ’s death and Resurrection.
Ash Wednesday Prayer
Heavenly Father, Compassionate One, have mercy on us, Lord, as we turn our penitent hearts to you and confess our sins to you. We have been deficient in your glory and without your mercy and grace, we would be non-existent.
Father, we entreat you, as we embark into this Lenten season, to be close to us. Help us Lord, through Your Holy Spirit, to believe in what is right and to make reparation for our sin. Help us, by your Spirit, to have the strength to defeat the enemy.
Loving God, today marks the beginning of a period of inner reflection and examination.This special period invites me to examine my life through our Lord Jesus Christ’s eyes and reveals the truth and reality of your love embodied therein. Lord, when I open my heart to your presence, let your loving kindness flow over me and seep into my soul. I ask this for the sake of your love.
Thank you, Father, that Easter is soon arriving. Death has no power, no victory, because of Jesus. Glory and honor and praise be to his Name. Lord, thank you for rescuing us. Help us appreciate both the importance and the joy of this season in our hearts and as we move through the next several weeks, help us bear the good fruit of Your Spirit.
Father, thank you, for making us realize that the ashes on our forehead do not symbolize our ultimate reality. We might have been formed from dust , but our bodies, our spirits, await beautiful redemption and the restoration of all things. Help us hopefully look forward to that day, and be worthy partakers in the glory of your Heavenly Kingdom, in Lord Jesus’ Name. Amen