"Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
In some churches the ashes used on the foreheads of the penitent are burned palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday. It is important to not lose sight of the significance of that symbol. As we enter in to a season of self-denial, we must remember God doesn't need us to fast. He doesn't need us to give up luxuries in order to love us. He has already loved us to the point of sacrificing His son Jesus, and our self-denial, fasting, and observance of Lent is simply a reaction to that. We clear away the frivolous things in our lives in order to see Jesus more clearly, to feel His breath on our face, and to find ourselves in His presence completely.
So as we begin Lent together with billions of Christians around the world, let us remember we are responding to Grace. The freedom we have in Christ compels us to respond--not in order to be loved, but because we are loved.
Prayer points // Pray for God to reveal to you how much you are loved today. Pray for God to show you something in your life keeping you from a fuller experience of Him, and then to give you the strength to remove it for this Lenten season.
Scripture Meditations // Galatians 2:19-20; Colossians 1:15-27