Ash Wednesday: Create in me a clean heart, O God

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with your free Spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.

“Create in Me a Clean Heart” (Psalm 51)

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar. It is a time of reflection and repentance, and many Christians mark the occasion with prayer, fasting, and the imposition of ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. This Christian ritual invites us to reflect on our mortality and sinful nature and to seek forgiveness and renewal.

Ash Wednesday often reminds us how limited our time is on this earth and that we are human, and to be human is to get it wrong sometimes or most times. And when we get it wrong, we cause others hurt and pain. With the amount of trauma, pain, and injustice in the world, it is easy to spiral inwards with our broken hearts, to seal off the places where our hearts break so we won’t have to feel or deal with the pain. Unfortunately, sealing off that brokenness can lead to the numbness that prevents us from living a loving, fulfilled, and happy life.

I imagine the Psalmist was experiencing something similar when he writes, “You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart” (Psalm 51:6).

As I read and reflect on Psalm 51 on this Ash Wednesday, I wonder if Ash Wednesday and Lent should also be about looking directly at the places where our hearts have been broken, without fear or criticism. But Instead, approach these wounds with much curiosity, recognizing the truths and knowledge we have gained through those trials.

During this season of Lent, I encourage you to reflect on the areas in which your heart was broken. Then like the Psalmist, cry out to our Divine Creator to create in you a clean and mended heart and renew a right spirit within you


Has your heart been broken? Is it causing you to spiral inwards to the point of numbness?

Let Us Pray:

Loving Creator, we acknowledge our need for your mercy and forgiveness. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Amen