On this Ash Wednesday we come to worship and to bow down before our God of creation and of salvation. Let us come before our God confessing our need of inner cleansing. Let us come asking God to search us and try us and to see if there is any wicked way within us. Come with repentance that is real. Come pleading our God to purify our purposes, to forgive our fallenness, to restore the joy of our salvation, and to leave again, assured of God’s presence and power, and as witnesses of God’s love.
The Wonderful Cross
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. Surely you desire truth in the inmost place.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Amen.
A Prayer Before Silent Prayer
O God, we often feel that we fail at prayer. But we rejoice that your Spirit prays ceaselessly in the cellar of our hearts. Grant us the grace to sit still that we may hear the Spirit’s silent song, flowing like a river deep within us. Quiet our restless hearts, calm our roving, runaway minds, so that we might be still before you. Amen.
The Prayer of Stillness
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be Still My Soul
A Cry for Mercy
Why, O Lord, is it hard for me to keep my heart directed toward you? Why do the many little things I want to do, and the many people I know, keep crowding into my mind, even during the hours that I am totally free to be with you and you alone? Why does my mind wander off in so many directions? Why does my heart desire the things that lead me astray? Are you not enough for me? Do I keep doubting your love and care, your mercy and grace? Do I keep wondering, in the center of my being, whether you will give me all I need if I just keep my eyes on you?
Please accept my distractions, my fatigue, my irritations, and my faithless wanderings. You know me more deeply and fully than I know myself. You love me with a greater love than I can love myself. You even offer me more than I can desire. Look at me, see me in all my misery and inner confusion, and let me sense your presence in the midst of my turmoil. All I can do is show myself to you. Yet, I am afraid to do so. I am afraid that you will reject me. But I know—with the knowledge of faith—that you desire to give me your love. The only thing you ask of me is not to hide from you, not run away in despair, not to act as if you were as relentless despot.
Take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms and give me rest, simple, quiet rest. Do I ask too much too soon? I should not worry about that. You will let me know. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
Near to the Heart of God
Prayer of Confession
Lord, we know that we love you, and we know what you ask us to do—but for those times when we have been too busy, when we have been hard-hearted, when we have been lukewarm, we ask for your forgiving love. Prepare us for your way, O Lord. Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Lord, you know our good intentions, and we know your will, but hold us back long enough to listen to those in need and to learn from them and to learn of our own need. Where we think we are sent, make us ready to receive, where we are keen to teach, make us ready to learn. Prepare us for your way, O Lord. Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Lord, you know our deepest desires, and we know the vision of your kingdom—we bring before you those elements in our lives in need of your transforming power: that which we misuse or neglect, that which we most reluctantly let go of, that which we believe is not good enough. Inspire us and disturb us to examine our deepest desires. Prepare us for your way, O Lord. Your kingdom come, your will be done.
Lord, you know our potential, but what is your purpose for our lives? In our uncertainty and in the knowledge of your faithfulness, prepare us for your way, O Lord. Your kingdom come, your will be done. Amen and Amen.
Assurance of Pardon
The God who challenges us is also the God who encourages us. The God who confronts us is also the God who accepts us. We know that God is with us even now, accepting, guiding, and forgiving. Since God has forgiven us in Christ, let us also forgive one another. Amen.
Beneath the Cross
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to God.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to each other.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to love.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to knowing God.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to the heart of God.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to the resurrection.
The closer we come to the cross, the closer we come to eternal life.