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And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them,

they cannot fast. But days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Mark 2:19-20

 Dear Lord Jesus, tomorrow will be Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we’ll have the privilege of surveying your all-sufficient cross and acknowledging our present need, as we worship our way towards Easter Sunday—Resurrection Day, the foundation of our hope and the fountain of eternal joy.

For your glory and our growth, we ask you to inundate us with fresh grace in the coming weeks. We don’t want an ordinary Lenten season, Lord Jesus. Saturate it with the gospel. It’s all about you, Jesus. It is all about you what you’ve done for us, not what we’ll promise to do for you.

Sadly, I used to dread Lent like late summer football practice—a lot of striving and sweat mixed in with much uncertainty and fear. “What’s the coach thinking about my performance? Am I doomed to sit on the bench? Will I even make the team this year?” What a misuse of the season of Lent. What a complete misrepresentation of the gospel. What a dismal way to live the Christian life. We’re your betrothed Bride, not beleaguered waifs.

Indeed, Lord Jesus, we begin Lent tomorrow anticipating our wedding, not our funeral, for you’re the loving Bridegroom who died to make us your cherished Bride. The work’s already done; the dowry’s been paid in full; the wedding dress of your righteousness is already ours; the invitations have been sent out; the date has been secured; you’ll not change your mind! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Over these next forty days intensify our hunger, our assurance, and our longing for the day of your return—the Day of consummate joy—the wedding feast of the Lamb. In light of that coming banquet, we choose to deny ourselves (fast from) certain pleasures for this brief season. But we’re not looking to get one thing from you, Jesus—just more of you.

Fill our hearts with your beauty and bounty, that we might freely confess and gladly repent of the ways we contradict the gospel—with our thoughts, words and deeds. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

 

 A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:5-6

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:1-2

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isa. 53:5

Dear heavenly Father, on this Ash Wednesday, accepting my mortality, and acknowledging my need, has never been so easy, life-giving, and freeing For you resist the proud and give grace to the humble, and I relish all the grace you freely give us in Jesus.

I am so grateful that it was according to your “unfailing love” and “great compassion” that you completely blotted out my transgressions, for I had no other appeal or hope. I trust only, and fully, in the finished work of Jesus, for the “washing and cleansing” from all my sins, that I desperately needed and still need. I have peace with you, only because Jesus took the punishment I deserve.

Father, during the entire season of Lent, I pray you will intensify my awe of Jesus’ cross; that I might genuinely repent of the ways I continue to under-believe the gospel, run to broken cisterns, and love so poorly.

It’s only because of my standing in Christ, that I can fall on my face before you—deeply convicted of my sin, but without the burden of my guilt.

It’s only because you’ve declared me righteous in your sight, that I declare myself needful of your grace—to change me, heal me, and free me.

It’s only because I’m certain you’ll complete the work you began in us, that I gladly submit to the present work of your Spirit in me. O, for the Day when we’ll be as lovely and as loving as Jesus. Hasten that Day, Lord; hasten that Day. Until then, make me more humble, grateful, and generous. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy and worship-worthy name.

Scotty Smith has a daily gospel centered prayer.  You can read/subscribe to these here.

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