And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” Mark 2:19-20

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of focusing our hearts, surveying your cross, and preparing for the greatest of all celebrations: Easter—the foundation of our hope and the fountain of eternal joy. What a great opportunity and gift.

For your glory and our growth, we ask you to inundate us with fresh grace in the coming weeks. We don’t want an ordinary Lenten season, Jesus. Saturate it with the gospel; overwhelm us with your daily mercies; stun us with your steadfast love—the only love that will never come to an end. It’s all about you, Jesus, it’s all about you what you’ve done for us, not what we promise to do for you.

Sadly, I used to dread Lent like late summer football practice—a lot of striving and sweat, mixed in with much uncertainty and fear. “What’s the coach thinking about my performance? Am I doomed to sit on the bench? Will I even make the team this year?” What a complete misrepresentation of the gospel. What a dismal way to live the Christian life. You’re calling us to repentant faith, not penitent doubt. We’re a betrothed bride, not a berated people—those upon whom you’ve set your heart and lavished your love.

Indeed, Jesus, we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral, for you’re the loving bridegroom who died to make us your cherished bride. The work’s already done; the dowry has been paid in full; the wedding dress of your righteousness is already ours; the invitations have been sent out; the date has been secured; and you’ll not change your mind! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Over these next forty days intensify our hunger for you, Lord, and ignite our longing for the day of your return—the Day of consummate joy, the wedding feast of the Lamb. In light of that banquet, we choose to deny ourselves (fast from) certain pleasures for this brief season. But we’re not looking to get one thing from you, Jesus—just more of you. Fill our hearts with your beauty and bounty, so very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

 


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Scotty Smith


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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