How to Celebrate Ash Wednesday This Year

Prepare your heart to follow Jesus more faithfully during this Lenten season

Each year, on Ash Wednesday, Christians around the world confess their sins and profess their devotion to God. Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day spiritual journey leading up to Holy Week.

But, this year, Ash Wednesday will be a little different than many are used to.

Traditionally, on Ash Wednesday, Roman Catholics attend mass, while many Protestants attend a worship service. There, a priest or pastor places ash on the forehead of attendees in the shape of a cross and says, “From dust you came and from dust you will return.” The ash symbolizes the believer’s grief and mourning for their sins.

This Ash Wednesday, COVID-19 is causing major disruption to this long-held ritual. Some will stay home rather than attend in-person services. Ashes will be lightly sprinkled rather than marked on foreheads. But even though there won’t be a public display of faith, penitence, and devotion, there is still a beautiful work that is happening in our hearts.

Experiencing Jesus through God’s Word

Many, if not all, of our church traditions and observances have been affected by the pandemic, over the past year. As many churches remain closed and we are forced to stay in our homes, our relationship with Jesus is being tested.

But Lent is a great time to draw near to Jesus. It’s a time to devote ourselves to building a deeper communion of love with God. These forty days, starting with Ash Wednesday and leading up to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, are often used to:

  • Repent. We acknowledge that we are sinners and we need a Savior.
  • Reflect. We focus on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Fast and pray. We practice self-denial to prepare our hearts to encounter the Savior more fully.

And you can begin this remarkable journey by diving deeper into the Bible. Download “God’s Word for Life: Week of Ash Wednesday” a 4-day devotional to encounter the beauty of the cross. As you meditate on God’s Word daily, you’ll experience abundant joy that can only be found in Christ. Are you ready to journey with Jesus?

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Lord, I confess my sins to you. I repent. I have fallen short of your glory, and if it were not for your mercy, I would be dust. But thanks to your grace, you sent your Son, Jesus, whose death and resurrection made it possible for my sins to be forgiven. Lord, as I enter this Lenten season, be near to me. Draw me into your loving presence that I may experience your joy and bear much fruit. Amen.

Related Blogs

Nena Podbury
Nena Podbury

Nena Podbury is a Prayer Mobilization Associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

Help us share God's Word where needed most.

Give Now

Sign up to receive regular updates on our work and learn how you can pray for Bible ministry in the U.S. and around the world.


Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive regular updates on our work and learn how you can pray for Bible ministry in the U.S. and around the world.