Select Page

I wrote this prayer for the 2010 noon Ash Wednesday service at Cannon Chapel on the campus of Emory University. A terrible earthquake had just ravaged Haiti, and many of us in the States were searching for ways to help in addition to donations.  We were also searching for answers, knowing deep down there weren’t any.  Ash Wednesday is a day when we acknowledge the brokenness of the world, our own brokenness, and the reality that there are rarely any easy answers. It’s a day that starts on hard journey, toward the devastation of the cross and the triumph of the empty tomb.

This prayer was set up to include a congregational response: In your mercy, be with us in the desert, Lord.


Let us pray for the church and for the world.


Merciful God,

You hold us in the palm of your hand.

Keep us close,

as we enter these weeks of of lenten repentance.

Hold us now,

as we begin the journey to the cross.

Lift us up,

as we look toward our shortcomings.

Remind us that in you we are made whole again.

In your mercy,

be with us in the desert, Lord.


God of what was,

we look back on these last days,

these last months,

these last years,

and see the many ways we have failed you.

We’ve turned our backs to the needy,

we’ve refused to hear the cries of those cast out from our midst.

Forgive us, that we might do your will with joy and thanksgiving.

In your mercy,

be with us in the desert, Lord.


God of what is,

Everyday your light falls anew upon this world,

guiding our steps and lighting our way.

Be with us as we start this Lenten journey.


Open our ears to those who cry out for aid.

Open our arms to those who long to be held.

Open our hearts that we might claim all of your children as our own brothers and sisters.


Your love, O God, inspires good work.

In the midst of crisis and disaster,

you guided the hands and hearts of relief workers and those donating their support.

We are grateful for the ways that you have touched this world,

and ask for your continued guidance in the days to come.

In your mercy,

be with us in the desert, Lord.



God of what will be,

We mark ourselves with ashes,

and remind ourselves of our need for you.

Mark our lives with your grace,

that in the days to come we might be reminded

of the love that holds us and keeps us and lifts us up.

Our human love fails, O God,

but your love never ends.


As we turn toward Jerusalem and the cross,

markers of what must be,

unite us in the Gospel,

that as a forgiven people we might

further your light, your hope, your love in the world

until you come in final victory.

In your mercy,

be with us in the desert, Lord.


Redeeming God,

Give us a holy Lent

and prepare us to observe with devotion the time of our

Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

Keep us faithful to your word,

wash us in the river of the water of life,

and help us to walk in newness

that we may join with all your saints

in the song of everlasting joy,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Get blog updates in your inbox!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest posts about creative visuals in worship, sermons, and more from


You have Successfully Subscribed!