Day 64 – “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depths of our hearts.” – Mother Teresa
Today is Ash Wednesday. Tonight was the first time I attended our church’s Ash Wednesday healing service. Rather than ashes, we used oil to anoint as part of the healing for those wishing to participate.
We had prayer stations set up throughout the room. The scripture our pastor read was about Jesus’s temptation in Matthew. Unlike many of our services which our upbeat and energetic, this service was reserved and quiet. It was contemplative and almost melancholy — which is appropriate, I think, for an Ash Wednesday service.
While examining the scripture, our pastor talked of how Jesus was broken at this point. He had fasted 40 days. He knew what was to come. He was being prepared. Emotionally, physically, mentally, maybe even spiritually Jesus felt exhausted. It’s not a picture I imagine of Jesus. We know Him as fully God when we believe the Trinity.
However, He was also fully human. In that service recognizing this humanity gave me a sense of a collective feeling of weakness. Unlike many times I’ve been to church, there wasn’t just a recognition that we are broken believers, but there was a release in knowing we admit it. While we may have dealt with shame over this fact in the past, now we can release that shame because we are all the same — weak, tired, broken. However, it is in our weakness we receive God’s strength that makes us whole. That is the entire point of Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Tonight my pastor touched my forehead with oil and said a prayer especially for me. Interceding on my behalf to God. Then I prayed for others in much the same way. Church is collective worship. That is amazing and powerful, but something about this healing service felt very individual and personal.
Our pastor likes to remind us of the scripture in James that says, “The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.” Tonight, that was certainly the case.