What is Mardi Gras, Carnival, Pancake Day and Shrove Tuesday celebrating that you can use in your prayers to God? Different countries give different names to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Church season called Lent which is a 40 day period of fasting and self examination in preparation for Easter. (Sundays are not counted as part of the 40 days because they are a day of Christian worship and therefore a day to rejoice and celebrate rather than to fast.)
Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Carnival, depending on the country. (The name Carnival comes from “Carne levar” which means to take away the meat, which is a reference to fasting.)
Historically Christians ate basic, less rich foods during Lent as part of their fasting when they pursued the spiritual rather than the physical side of life. In order to use the last of rich ingredients like eggs, milk, butter and sugar, pancakes became associated with this Tuesday because they are made with these ingredients.
Although Shrove Tuesday is not traditionally celebrated with church services, it is a good day to think about transitioning into a simpler, more spiritual time. To this end, we have composed a special prayer for this day.
Shrove Tuesday Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for the rich and wonderful world of physical pleasure and nourishment you have given to us to enjoy. We thank you for the pleasures of sight and smell and taste and touch. We thank you for the bounty of our tables and for the loved ones who feast and laugh with us. This is a true blessing from You, as observed in Ecclesiastes 8:15 “So I commend the enjoyment of life because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” (NIV version of the Bible)
And yet Father, we are also aware that if life’s basic pleasures are all that we pursue and if we have no spiritual depth, our lives are meaningless. Your prophet Isaiah adds a sobering thought for us, “’Let us eat and drink’ you say, ‘For tomorrow we die!’” (Isaiah 22:13 NIV version of the Bible.)
Thank you that Your Son Jesus lived as a human being and balanced both the physical and spiritual pleasures and joys of life. Thank you that the Bible tells us that Jesus feasted frequently and that He also fasted with intensity.
Help us to feast and to fast with the same mindset of Christ, not for our own good pleasure but for your good pleasure. We celebrate You in our feasting today, and we celebrate you in our fasting tomorrow. May each be used by You to our spiritual growth and benefit. In the name of Your Son Jesus, who is the Bread of Life we pray Amen.
Copyright Karen Barber 2012 all rights reserved.