Ash Wednesday: Teach Me Wisdom – Psalm 51:1-17

Psalm 51:1-17

1   Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3   For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4   Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5   Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6   You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7   Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8   Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9   Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11   Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14  Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15  O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16  For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Invite God to teach you wisdom in your sacred heart.
  • What false teachings need to be cleaned and removed to make room for the wisdom God has for you?
  • Embrace this wisdom.
  • Wear the sign of the cross to show this wisdom.
  • If you are not able to attend a service today to receive the imposition of ashes, make the sign of the cross on your own forehead.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new and ushering hope into the world.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday Year A

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Ash Wednesday: Sound the Alarm on My Holy Mountain – Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

1   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near —
2   a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.

12  Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13       rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the LORD, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD, your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16       gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • What darkness and gloom surrounds you today?
  • What darkness and gloom lies within you today?
  • Use your imagination to bring all of the darkness and gloom in front of you and try to hold it like a ball.
  • How big is the ball?
  • How heavy is the ball?
  • God asks you to bring the ball to God.  God asks you to return to God.
  • Lean into God’s strength to bring all of the darkness and gloom with you to God.
  • Bring the fullness of yourself to God.  Bring your whole heart.
  • God will meet you.
  • Return to the LORD, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
  • Rest with God.  Listen with God.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday Year A

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Midday Prayer for Ash Wednesday: Psalm 51:1-17: Teach me wisdom in my sacred heart

Psalm 51:1-17

1   Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.

3   For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4   Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5   Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.

6   You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7   Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8   Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9   Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11   Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14  Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.

15  O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16  For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17  The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Invite God to teach you wisdom in your sacred heart.
  • What false teachings need to be cleaned and removed to make room for the wisdom God has for you?
  • Embrace this wisdom.
  • Wear the sign of the cross to show this wisdom.
  • If you are not able to attend a service today to receive the imposition of ashes, make the sign of the cross on your own forehead.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new.
  • You wear the sign of the broken spirit being made new and ushering hope into the world.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday Year B

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings 
(c) 2018 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17: Call a solemn assembly

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

1   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near —
2   a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.

12  Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13       rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the LORD, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD, your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16       gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • What darkness and gloom surrounds you today?
  • What darkness and gloom lies within you today?
  • Use your imagination to bring all of the darkness and gloom in front of you and try to hold it like a ball.
  • How big is the ball?
  • How heavy is the ball?
  • God asks you to bring the ball to God.  God asks you to return to God.
  • Lean into God’s strength to bring all of the darkness and gloom with you to God.
  • Bring the fullness of yourself to God.  Bring your whole heart.
  • God will meet you.
  • Return to the LORD, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
  • Rest with God.  Listen with God.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday Year B

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings 
(c) 2018 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD