This is a prayer of confession for Ash Wednesday. It is inspired by the suggested scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for Year B. Please feel free to use this prayer or adapt it for use in your own church or worship setting. My goal in writing this litany was to take my own personal pain and turn it into a corporate prayer. Lent is the time for fasting, prayer, and seeking to draw close to God.
A Prayer for Ash Wednesday
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” Psalm 13: 1, KJV
Leader: O God, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
When we were young, we had so much hope.
Soon, our griefs became too numerous to name.
Sometimes– we confess—
We lost hope.
Response: How long must we wait for the Lord? My soul waits with longing for the morning light.
Our hearts are heavy with mourning.
Leader: Our eyes are wet with tears.
All of us have lost.
There is not a human heart in the world that does not know what it is to hurt.
We weep for our own hurts, but our hearts melt most of all for the ones we love. It is anguish to see our loved ones in pain.
Response: Even the young will grow tired in weary. Youths stumble and fall. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
Leader: Precious Lord Jesus—Passover Lamb,
We remember the pain of the Holy Mother Mary as she watched her boy child die on the cross.
We remember your pain. How you cried out in agony.
And we know it must have hurt you, to watch you mother weep.
Response: Our sins drove the spikes into your hands. Our iniquities pierced your side. Our transgressions crowned you with thorns. Have mercy on us, God, according to your steadfast love. According to your abundant mercy, blot out our wrongs.
Leader: The Lord God calls us to repentance. Turn and walk in paths of righteousness. “Share your bread with the hungry… and bring the homeless poor into your house… Then your light shall break forth like the dawn (Isaiah 58:7-8).”
Response: We repent that we have sinned against God and done what is evil. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a new spirit within us. The light of God shall rise in the darkness! The blackest night will become like the blazing light of the noonday sun! The sacrifice acceptable to God is a humble spirit. God will not a despise a heart that truly repents (Isaiah 58:10 & Psalm 51:10-17). Amen.
–Rev. Rebecca L. Holland (January 27, 2021)
About the Author:
My name is Rebecca and I am both a pastor and an author. If you are interested in reading more about my personal journey of faith, please check out my memoir Hope for the Broken: Using Writing to Find God’s Grace, coming soon from Touch Point Press. (affiliate link)
As a person with a disability, I have struggled with my health all my life. God has provided me the strength to face life’s many challenges, but it is natural to be sad and frightened at times. I wrote this prayer today because yesterday I had a very upsetting development with my personal health. After an emergency appointment with my local ophthalmologist, I was told I needed yet another eye surgery (I’ve had over a dozen, and stitches in the eye is a very uncomfortable experience). As I said in the introduction, my goal in writing this litany was to take my own personal pain and turn it into a corporate prayer.