Question: "What is Ash Wednesday?"
Answer: Ash Wednesday is the day Lent begins. It occurs forty days before Good Friday. The “official” name of Ash Wednesday is “the Day of Ashes.” The reason the day became known as Ash Wednesday is that it is forty days before Good Friday, which will always be a Wednesday. The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, or Lent for that matter.
The period of Lent is intended to be a time where sinful activities and habits are forsaken. Ash Wednesday is the “commencement” of this period of repentance. The Bible contains numerous accounts of people using “dust and ashes” as a symbol of repentance and/or mourning (Genesis 18:27; 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; Matthew 11:21). The tradition is that the symbol of the cross is made in ashes on a person’s forehead as a symbol of that person’s identification with Jesus Christ. A similar concept is mentioned in Revelation 7:3; 9:4; 14:1 and 22:4.
Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Ash Wednesday, along with Lent, is observed by most Catholics, most orthodox denominations, and a few Protestant denominations. Since the Bible nowhere commands or condemns such a procedure, a Christian is at liberty to prayerfully decide whether to observe Ash Wednesday or not. If a Christian feels led of the Lord to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent – they important thing is to have a Biblical perspective. It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities. It is a good thing to clearly identify yourself as a Christian. It is unbiblical to believe that God will automatically bless in response to the observance of a ritual. God is interested in our hearts, not in us observing rituals. See Matthew chapter 6, verses 1-8.