An Ash Wednesday Prayer

This morning I wrote a prayer for the city. Which city? Your city. I humbly submit it to you and ask God to speak to us…

Father, I want to thank you for this morning, I thank you for the Lord Jesus. I praise you for the Holy Spirit. O my Lord, on this day that begins the Lenten season for so many, I ask you to speak to my heart afresh. I ask you to deepen my heart as I consider your blessings. Teach me from the Gospels I pray, Lord help me. Father, as I read about the new wineskins, I think of Isaiah 43.19 “Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? 

Oh Father, I think of all the Christians who are doing different things in this city with a lack of unity. Oh Lord, help them. Draw them together to be part of YOUR efforts. They can maintain their distinctives, just call them to yourself. Have them work together. Oh God, may this happen in this city and that city too. Oh God may unity be the order of the day. May Christian cooperation be the “new wineskin” – please “make a way in the the wilderness” of disunity and the hiding of gifts… may “rivers” of repentance, unity and cooperation be water to the “desert” of pride and self and self protection.

Oh Father, raise up a chorus of voices who will be dedicated to you and your body and work together as Paul told the Corinthians, Oh God, speak to us that we may understand his “appeal to you brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement.” Oh my God may your church unite. May they come together to follow you and live such lives and speak such words that they are magnets to bring people to discipleship. Oh God that churches would be centers of worship of many kinds and of people mentoring and being mentored as disciples of Jesus so that these disciples would have heart and life changing relationships that would cause them to naturally begin to speak love and mercy.

Oh God, help me to understand, show me that the need is for me and all believers to repent of our practices of exclusion over differences and then once we have turned from these attitudes, to face and love and embrace fellow believers. Oh God use this as a sweet aroma which will draw people to know and follow Jesus in His embrace. Oh God may we embrace one anther’s hearts. Oh God, may that message be proclaimed. Help us oh God, as churches with distinctness, to be willing to see the hearts beneath the distinctives and look beyond the skin tone and other language of difference and see that inside our hearts are broken and we need the gospel. Oh God, I know you own heart yearns for there to be loving unity that would show love and bring more of the lost citizens of this place to you. Oh God, win this city for yourself and for your Glory. Oh God, sanctify my heart in this prayer and change me so that I would follow you and embrace your children who need you so much. Oh God, may your body embrace its city.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour have mercy on me, the sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour, have mercy on us, your church.

Oh God, may we live and breathe the Gospel so that people really do see that we are different and so that they actually do ask us… so that we really do use our heart and voice “to give the reason for the hope that is within us.” Oh God remove far away from us the complaining spirit that prevails when we do not get what we want. Help us to have a new countenance of joy and may our steps and our words be seasoned with “gentleness and respect.”

Oh God, help us not hide behind our fears. Forgive us for lacking the faith to act and speak with love and kindness, yet with boldness. Oh God forgive us, we fear being discovered that we are Christians because we do not trust you to care for us or we want to keep excusing our behavior which does not align with our proclamation. Oh God, forgive us for being paralyzed by fear so that we are mired in inaction and silence and allow the enemy to prevail. Oh God forgive us for hiding our light under a basket with our attitudes toward our neighbor who intrudes on us and make us uncomfortable. Let us love our neighbors as the Lord Jesus taught us. Oh God forgive us for hiding our fish and loaves. Help us bring these gifts out into the open that you may bless what we have and multiply them. Give us faith to overcome our fears oh God.

Guide us oh Lord, into following you. Help us Holy Spirit cry out to you. We can’t, so you must, Oh Father. Oh God, may your Holy Spirit be freed in us that we may proclaim the risen Christ and bring Him Glory through our life, our actions and our words, may we boldly proclaim His name and be a sweet aroma that draws people to YOU!

In the name of the Risen One.

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