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Praying through the ashes

A Bible prayer for Ash Wednesday to begin the church season of Lent

Psalm 51:1-10

Be merciful to me, O God!

In the greatness of Your mercy,
wipe out my sins
and wipe away the stains.

I’m aware of my faults,
and my rebellions against You
haunts me!

Against You – and You alone
have I sinned.

I’ve done wrong by You!
So You’d be right to judge me.
And You have every right
to condemn me.

I’ve gotten myself into trouble
since birth. I’ve been inclined
to be selfish
ever since my conception!

But You want me to get real.

You desire me to look inward –
with sincerity and truth –
and find Your wisdom
waiting for me there.

Purge my sins,
and I will be clean.
Cleanse me,
and I will be
as fresh as new snow.

Help me to hear
the sounds of joy and gladness.

Help me to be aware
that my brokenness is healed.

Hide my sins from Your face,
and blot out all ill will in me.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew
Your Spirit within me.



© 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler prayer-a-phrased today’s reading in Psa…

Ash Wednesday: piety, priorities, and prayer

As Jesus taught His disciples, then and now:

Be careful
not to get showy
with your good deeds
to gain anyone’s admiration.
That brings its own little reward
from others but not from
your Father in Heaven.

Instead
give to those in need
without even letting yourself
know how important you are!
Yet, as you give, your Father will
see and know and reward you.

And when you pray,
don’t be like those hypocrites
who want approval so much
they blow their own horn
wherever they can be seen or heard,
not knowing that’s their only reward.

Instead
when you pray, go away
by yourself and close off
everything else
as you talk to your Father,
Who you cannot see, but Who
sees and rewards you as you pray –
even when you’re hidden away.



© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrase poem to begin Lent from today's Gospel reading, Matthew 6:1-6

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