The following Ash Wednesday prayer service is suitable for teachers to use in their classrooms, as an all-school assembly, or in a youth group setting.
Loving God, as we begin this Lenten journey toward a greater union with you, strengthen our faith through our devoted practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Open up new doors to deeper spirituality and discovery of your love. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Think, for a moment, about the times in your life in which you wanted recognition for something you have done. It may be a good grade on a test, an athletic accomplishment, or a favor to a friend. What rewards have you been given lately? Are there materials things, like clothes, phones, jewelry, or your body, that are a source of confidence?
God asks us during Lent to set all of our attachment to those things aside, and rely solely on him.
When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
(Choose between the following penitential prayers)
O Lord, who has mercy on all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and enjoy you, for Christ’s sake, Amen
— St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who will cleanse it,
to whom will I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord,
and spare Your servant from strange sins.
— St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)
We ask this,
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.