Friday, November 30, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, November 30, 2012 – St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 19, Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Romans 10:8b-18, and Matthew 4:18-22

St. Andrew was St. Peter’s older brother.  According to John 1, it was he who called Peter to come and meet Jesus.  Andrew is always mentioned fourth in the listing of the disciples and apostles, after Peter, James, and John.  Andrew was one of the ones who left everything to follow Jesus.

Tradition has it that Andrew preached along the Black Sea as far as the Volga, Kiev, and Novgorod, and that he was the first bishop of Constantinople (Byzantium).  This diocese is now the most important one in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus was crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” – supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

Take a moment to consider Andrew’s obedience.  How can you follow his example?  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 25:1-10, Nehemiah 9:6-15, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

We begin a new season on Sunday, as well as a new year.  The Church calendar begins with the first Sunday in Advent.  It is important to remember that Advent is not “pre-Christmas”, but is a season in its own right.  It is a season of reflection, preparation, and longing for the coming Savior.  The first two weeks focus on the second coming of Christ, while the last two weeks focus on the incarnation.
The secular Christmas season is already in full swing.  Buying things we cannot afford, asking for things we do not need, eating things we are not supposed to be eating, the same secular Christmas music being repeated ad nauseum...  Is this why we fall in a heap on December 26th, utterly sick of Christmas?  Must we follow along like cattle to slaughter?

Or can we celebrate Advent until the evening of December 24th, making sure to savor Advent in all its contemplative glory, saving Christmas for the actual Christmas season?  Is it possible to use Advent as a time of preparation and anticipation for the coming of Christ?  Could it be the church Fathers were right after all, that maybe getting into Christmas too early ruins the experience and all the joy?

Let’s keep Advent this year.  Let’s not allow the secular Christmas to sneak into church.  Let’s take time to slow down the hectic pace and focus on Christ, who has come, and who will come, and who comes now.  Let’s prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming – both at the Day of the Lord and as an infant, holy and innocent.

Take some time to ask God how you can keep Advent.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have given us this time every year that we might anticipate and prepare for the coming of Christ: Grant us grace that we might not follow the rest of the world, but that we might set ourselves apart to follow and serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 76, Ezekiel 30:20-26, and John 16:25-33

“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Jesus’ words are still true.  Jesus is king of all.

We recently held an election.  Some believers were happy with the result, and some were not.  Some voted for one candidate, and some for another.  Some of the believers who wanted new leaders were quite upset when their favorite candidates weren’t elected.  Some even went so far as to say that the nation is failing, or that this was the beginning of the end.

We forget in our anger and fear that Jesus is King.  It doesn’t really matter who is the President, as long as we trust Jesus and obey him.  There once was a time when being a Christian was a crime, and believers were routinely fed to lions before a great, cheering crowd.  Yet during that time the Church grew faster than at any other time in history.   There are still places where Christianity is unwelcome, where following Jesus means hardship, prison, and often death.  Yet the Church is strong there.  God cares for his own, no matter who is in control.

Perhaps we’re going about it all the wrong way.  Perhaps if we focused on making disciples by taking risks and changing lives, then we could have a positive impact on society – and therefore our government.  Maybe if, instead of trying to be heard about this candidate’s faults or that law’s problems, we focused on quietly growing the kingdom of God, we could actually have more influence.  Maybe the answer is less emphasis on what is happening in society and more emphasis on showing God’s love to others, bringing them into the kingdom, and then teaching them how to see and follow God.

“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 76, Ezekiel 29:1-12, and Revelation 11:15-19

St. John writes about the twenty-four elders who are seated around the throne and who fall and worship God.  He records their song of praise.

In the midst of difficult or frightening times, the best thing we can do is worship God.  Instead of reacting in fear, we should respond with praise.  It is counter-intuitive.  Our nature is fight or flight.  Our nature is worry.  But God wants us to learn how to choose him over our reactions.

Praise God.  Sing a song – a favorite you already know, or a new one you make up as you go along.  Sing it aloud, even if strangers are nearby.  Focus your prayers on praising God.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Monday, November 26, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 76, Daniel 7:19-27, and Revelation 11:1-14

Our readings today are heavy with apocalyptic prophesy.  It is easy to get so lost in trying to explain everything that we end up afraid of what might happen.  God is not a god of fear, though, but one of power and might.  If we simply follow Jesus, we will be just fine.

St. John was trying to get a message to believers in seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), but he had to write in “code” so that his Roman captors would allow his letter to be delivered.  He used metaphors and images that his readers would understand but the Romans would not.  We can’t exactly take Revelation literally.

The prophet Daniel was also writing in heavy metaphor.  Both he and St. John were trying to describe dreams or visions they had seen about things that were happening in God’s presence.  Both visions concern nations in the future.  Different scholars have argued over the years about what it all means, but it seems that both are talking about the Roman empire.

But what does all this have to do with us today?  For one thing, we know that God is in control.  No matter how terrible it may seem to be, God is still God, and Jesus is still King.  For another thing, we don’t need to let visions of the end of time (or even just future events) scare us into doing foolish things.   If you’re Jesus’ follower, then you’re going to be okay.  There may be some unpleasant things that happen, but God takes care of his people.

Ask God to help you remain focused on him, even when things seem scary.  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, November 25, 2012 (Proper 29)
The Feast of Christ the King

Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:4b-8; and John 18:33-37

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, November 24, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 93, Daniel 7:1-8, 15-18, and John 3:31-36

John the Baptist bore witness to the Messiah, saying that “he who is from above is above all.”  John’s ministry was wrapping up now that Jesus’ ministry was beginning; he would soon be arrested and later beheaded.  John told his listeners that whomever believes in the Son has everlasting life.

Following Jesus isn’t easy, but the reward is great.  There will be hardships.  There will be humiliation.  Jesus will change everything about you.  But Jesus is working to mold you into his image – the image that we were created to be.  There will be times when it seems tough.  God gives us the strength we need.

Follow Jesus today.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, November 23, 2012 – St. Clement of Rome, Bishop and Martyr
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 15, Micah 6:6-8, Philippians 4:1-9, and Luke 6:17-23

St. Clement was a Roman by birth, but like St. Paul he had Jewish ancestors.  He became a believer by the work of St. Peter and St. Paul; Paul later wrote in Philippians that Clement was his “fellow laborer”.

He accompanied Paul to Rome and according to one of the early Fathers was ordained bishop by Peter.   Peter is generally held to be the first bishop of Rome, followed by St. Linus and St. Cletus.  Clement was the fourth, beginning about 91CE.
After he became bishop of Rome, there was a fight in the church at Corinth.  Paul had written four letters to them (two of which are in our Bible), and they still had problems.  Clement wrote another, and it was very highly regarded in the ancient Church – being held almost on a par with the canonical books of Scripture.

Clement died in the year 100.  Ancient tradition holds that he was martyred, but we don’t know where or how.

Clement was a faithful servant of Jesus and worked hard to grow the Church.  Take a moment to pray about this.  Ask God to help you be as faithful as St. Clement was.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Clement, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, November 22, 2012 – Thanksgiving Day
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 126, Joel 2:21-27, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, and Matthew 6:25-33

Today is the day traditionally set aside for giving thanks to God for all he has done in the past year.  It is a time of feasting and celebration, family and friends, laughter and singing.

As you gather with friends and family today and this weekend, take time to thank each other for something special.  Then, thank God for the things he has done for you this year.  Start with the prayer of Thanksgiving, below.  You may also find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Sanctus and Benedictus
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 13, Zechariah 12:1-13:1, and Mark 13:9-23

Don’t get caught up in all the confusion.  Don’t get upset.  Don’t panic.
Jesus’ words to his followers still resonate with us.  Even though there were tough times headed toward them, Jesus wanted his followers to be assured that he was in control.  He doesn’t want us reacting in fear or anger.  He wants us to respond with love and praise.

Jesus does wants to show his love to those around us, even in difficult times.  He wants us to show his love even to the people that mistreat us.  He wants us to be his ambassadors, showing people what it is like to live in the kingdom of God.

Don’t be afraid of the things that are to come.  There is enough worry in today without borrowing more from tomorrow.  Also, no matter what happens here, Jesus Christ is still our King.  Show his love to others by serving them.

Go and serve someone who is not part of any church.  Let this be your prayer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 13, Daniel 8:15-27, and Hebrews 10:32-39

Not every bad thing we experience is punishment.  Sometimes he leads us through something in order to make us stronger.  God is continually growing us, trying to help us become more like him.  Sometimes it isn’t fun, but the end result is that we are better than we could ever be on our own.

Take some time to pray about this.  How has God worked in you to bring about growth?  Did you resist it, or did you go along with it and learn everything you could?  Did you resent God for it, or were you thankful?  Ask God to help you be thankful for the times of growth, and ask him to help you take advantage of them.  Write your own prayer.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Monday, November 19, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 13, Daniel 8:1-14, and Hebrews 10:26-31

Not obeying God can be a dangerous thing.  While we don’t often like to talk about what happens when we go against God’s will, he tells his followers pretty plainly that if they choose to go their own way he will punish them.  God is a jealous God.

There have been many times over the past year, particularly during Advent and Lent, where we have looked at our mistakes and failures.  We have prayed for forgiveness many times.  We are human, though, and we continue to make mistakes.  As we learn, we also see that things we thought were just fine are actually not what God wants.  We grow and mature into righteousness.

Follow God.  If you do, he will bless you.  If you do not, there are consequences.  Ask God to help you be a better follower.  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, November 18, 2012 (Proper 28)
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25; and Mark 13:1-8

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, November 17, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 16, Daniel 4:28-37, and Mark 12:1-12

As we wrap up the church year and move toward Christ the King Sunday and the first Sunday in Advent, our Gospel readings turn more apocalyptic.  Today’s reading is a parable about a vineyard owner that sent messenger after messenger, but each was turned away.  When finally he sent his own son, the workers conspired to kill him so that they could take over the vineyard for themselves.  It is easy to see that Jesus was using the story to talk about how the Jews had rejected God’s messengers, and that now that God had sent his Son, they were going to have him put to death.  Why? Because they didn’t like the truth.

We have a tendency to reject the truth, because the truth is rarely comfortable.  The truth doesn’t usually make us feel all that warm and fuzzy.  In fact, we rather try to avoid it, or at least sugarcoat it.  We try to hold it off as long as we can.

Truth is sharp.  It hurts sometimes.  That’s not a good excuse for us to go around hurting each other.  We sometimes use truth’s hurt for cover as we go after people.  Truth may hurt, but it also isn’t malicious.

Listen to God’s truth.  Be willing to change things in order to become more like Jesus.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, November 16, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 16, Daniel 4:19-27, and Colossians 2:6-15

We have received Jesus, so we should remain in him.  Our roots should grow deep and well-established.  Our lives should be shaped by his teaching and sacrifice.  Our very identities become one with him, so that we put aside our old selves and take on him for ourselves.  Where before we were sentenced to death for our sin, we now are granted life for his sinlessness.  Where before we were due justice, we now are given mercy.

As we gather around Christ’s table, we receive again the grace to overcome the difficulties in our lives.  In the consecrated bread and wine Christ is truly present, and we receive him into ourselves again.  We do not worry about it becoming “less special” – how can receiving Christ be anything less than life-changing?  It might be the first or the five thousandth time we’ve taken Holy Communion, and we might have said the well-known words over and over again, but it is always just as special.  How can it be anything less?

You have received Jesus.  Now grow deeper in him.  Put aside your old self and take on his nature.  Write your own prayer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, November 15, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 16, Daniel 4:4-18, and 1 Timothy 6:11-21

St. Paul exhorts St. Timothy to put aside evil and pursue good things.  He also tells him to exhort those who are rich to not be haughty, but to be giving people, “rich in good works”.

Even the poorest Americans are rich when compared to much of the rest of the world.  Even those who have little have much when compared to third-world nations.  Add Jesus to the mix, and we become rich beyond our imaginations.  Maybe we don’t have any more money, and perhaps we don’t suddenly have stocks or land or gold, but having Jesus makes us rich beyond measure.

How then can we take those riches – both spiritual and financial – and use them to bless others who don’t have anything?  If the Church would simply do what the Church is supposed to do, government welfare wouldn’t be needed.  If the Church would simply give what Jesus told us to give, poverty would be cut drastically and we wouldn’t need nearly as many government programs to provide basic necessities.
Be the Church.  Give of your riches to someone in need.  It might be financially.  It might be extra clothing, food, or household items you don’t need.  It might be to share the love of Jesus for someone created in his image.  However it may be, share with someone today.  Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 94, Ruth 4:7-22, and Luke 4:16-30

The people of Nazareth had watched Jesus grow up.  They knew his father, the carpenter.  In fact, he and Jesus had probably built many of their houses.  In those days a carpenter was also a bricklayer and furniture maker, so there were many different things they built.

Jesus came and read the lectionary passage of the day, a passage from Isaiah.   He then sat down (some say in the seat that was symbolically reserved for the Messiah) and began to teach.  It impressed the crowd, who remembered Jesus as a teenager.  What upset them was that he seemed to be saying that he was only sent to certain people.  He mentioned that Elijah had been sent only to one certain widow, from the region of Tyre and Sidon, despite the fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time.  And although there were many lepers in Israel during Elisha’s time, he only healed a Syrian general.  These two great prophets did two great things for two foreigners instead of their own people.

Jesus does want us to love each other.  However, he also wants us to love outsiders.  Those who are not among us are the ones on whom we should focus.  Churches that are inward-focused are churches that will die.

Go and serve someone who is not part of any church.  Let this be your prayer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 94, Ruth 3:14-4:6, and 1 Timothy 5:9-16
St. Paul writes that the younger widows “learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle, but gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.” (v. 13).  Wow, that is strong, isn’t it?

We are all guilty of that from time to time, whether we are widowed or not, young or old, idle or busy.  Gossip hurts others, rips apart families, friendships, communities, and churches, and brings in worry and anger and bitterness.  Gossip is a noxious weed that can never be given a chance to root.  Gossip never brings about good, only evil.

When faced with gossip, it is easy to just listen in to the juicy details.  Of course, then we want to go and tell someone else – usually several someones.  And so it grows.  With each telling details get twisted, omitted, or invented (whether by mistake or intention, it doesn’t matter), and people end up deeply hurt by it.  Most of the time the issue is something that could be easily fixed with a simple telephone call or visit.  Instead of giving each other the benefit of the doubt and believing the best about the other person, we choose to ascribe evil to their intentions and then go and tell all we know – even when we know nothing at all.

The best response is always to respond with love, believing the best in people unless we know for an absolute fact otherwise.  An old friend once said, “My father taught me that a man is not a murderer unless you saw him kill someone, and a woman is not a thief unless you catch her stealing.”  What she meant was that we should believe that others are innocent unless we have solid proof to the contrary.
When a friend comes to us with juicy gossip, the best response is to pray with the gossiper for the person in question immediately.  It feels weird to pray over the telephone at first, but God certainly does hear that prayer.  Stop whatever is going on and pray grace and love for the person in question, and grace and understanding for the gossiper and yourself.  Then do not repeat it, but let it be closed.

Some people have a bad habit of gossiping.  We love them by not fueling the gossip mill.  We don’t give them things they can then twist and turn around.  We don’t allow them to tell us their stories.  Rest assured, if a person is gossiping to you, he or she is bound to be gossiping about you.  Every time gossip is encountered, respond with prayer.

In really bad cases, it might be necessary to offer to go with the gossiper to the person in question and talk about it together.  This helps destroy the triangle, get things into the open, and let the air be cleared.  Gossip is usually based on a degree of truth, which is what makes it believable, but once the lies are spoken they can be corrected.  Praying together and agreeing that the matter will be forgiven and forgotten closes the wound and allows the damage to be healed.

Take some time to pray about this.  Have you carried gossip?  Is it a bad habit?  How should you change so that you no longer do that?  What do you need to do to help heal the hurt that gossip causes?  Write your own prayer.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Monday, November 12, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 94, Ruth 1, and 1 Timothy 5:1-8

Ruth was a widow at a time when being a widow was a bad thing.  She stayed with her mother-in-law, who was also a widow.  She made it clear to Naomi that she wasn’t going to leave her.

St. Paul told St. Timothy to take care of those who were widows.  Paul takes exception to those who are rich and “living it up”, but Timothy and his church were to care for those who truly had nothing.

Do you know any widows who are struggling?  Are they struggling financially?  Emotionally?  Physically?  How can you help?  Ask God to show you.  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday


Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, November 11, 2012 (Proper 27)
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: 1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, and Mark 12:38-44

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, November 10, 2012Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 146, Deuteronomy 24:17-22, and Mark 11:12-14, 20-24

Jesus went to the fig tree to look for figs, despite the fact that he knew it wasn’t the season for figs.  But the tree had leaves on it, which was an advertisement for figs.  Finding none, he cursed the tree.  The next morning the disciples were astonished that the tree had dried up overnight.  Jesus responded, “Have faith in God.”  That answer doesn’t seem to fit.  What did he mean?

For one thing, the tree was falsely advertising figs.  It could not produce what it had promised.  We do the same thing.  What can keep us from doing that? Listening to God and then being obedient to what we hear – in other words, faith.  For another thing, Jesus cursed the tree as an object lesson for the disciples.  He told them that with faith we can do amazing things.  With faith we can move mountains.  With faith we can accomplish the impossible.

Listen to God and then be obedient.  Nothing will be able to stop you.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, November 9, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 146, Deuteronomy 15:1-11, and Hebrews 9:15-24

The writer of Hebrews is talking about the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf.  There can be no remission of sins without the shedding of blood.  Blood was seen by the ancient Jews to be the life force – one reason why they were forbidden to eat an animal’s blood.  By sacrificing an animal and sprinkling its blood on the altar, they symbolically transferred their sins to the animal and then sprinkled its life on the altar as atonement for those sins.

However, where the Jews had to present offerings on a regular basis, Jesus has made that sacrifice once for all.  Once was all that was needed, and it covers every single person from that time until the end of time as we know it.  From the day that Jesus died until the day that he returns in glory, every person – trillions of people – are covered by that sacrifice.  It is a mind-blowing thought.

We do have to accept it, however.  And we can’t really do that if we don’t know about it.  That is where Christians come in.  Not only are we the ones who have recognized the sacrifice and accepted it, but we’re also the ones sent to help others make the same decision.  It may seem a daunting task at first, one that would make us give up in despair, but God is with us and will show us what to do.  Sometimes we might have to speak words, but God can give us those, too.  Mainly we preach with our actions, however, because those are more visible and more telling than words could ever be.  If you doubt this, just watch a debate between candidates for president or governor.  They will say whatever they think will get them the most votes, but that doesn’t mean their actions support their words.

Take time to pray about this.  Ask God to help you preach the gospel with your actions and your words.  Write your own prayer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, November 8, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 146, Numbers 36, and Romans 5:6-11

It is a lot easier for a person to say that he or she would die for the sake of another than it is to actually do it.  We say a lot of things that we secretly hope won’t actually happen.  St. Paul writes that for a very good person perhaps a few would die, but most people will not.  And yet Jesus died for us – doing something that is very, very difficult for us to do.

Yesterday we considered the implications of loving each other.  Can love compel us to give up our lives so that another can live?  Would it be love for the other person or love for God that convinced us to do it?  How can we end our lives so that others might live – especially those we have never met?

It is a very difficult thing to do.  Even thinking about it is difficult.  But to God it is not difficult.  “Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” (The United Methodist Hymnal, pg. 8)

Jesus gave his life so that you could live.  Will you give yours so that another can live?  Will you give your whole self to Jesus?  Ask God to give you the grace to respond to Jesus’ call.  Ask him to help you give your life to him.  Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 51, Micah 6:1-8, and John 13:31-35

Love one another.  That seems fairly straight forward.  It sounds like a simple rule.  Love one another.  That’s how they will know you’re Jesus’ follower.  Love one another.

We have such a hard time with this! We get angry at this person or that one.  We think Mrs. A is wrong about this, or Mr. B is too full of himself, or Dr. C is so angry all the time.  This one smells bad.  That one has a speech impediment and talks incessantly about baseball in a loud voice, even during worship.  This other one is homosexual, or has too many tattoos, or is on drugs.

Love one another.  That’s how they will know you’re Jesus’ follower.  Why can’t we do it?  Why do we have such a hard time?

There are five “languages” which we speak to show love: Gift-giving, quality time, touch, words of affirmation, and acts of service.  Sometimes people “speak” and “hear” the same ones, and sometimes they “speak” one and “hear” another.  As people mature they learn to “speak” and “hear” all five.

Since Jesus didn’t give us much of a choice, we should probably get started with loving one another.  Go and show someone you love him or her today, using that person’s “language”.  If you don’t know it, start with the one you “speak” best.  Let this be your prayer today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 40

Well, this is it, folks: The end of forty days of prayer for the election.  Hopefully we have resisted the hype, the lies, the mudslinging, and the emotion.  Hopefully we have chosen the candidates for whom we will vote based on what we believe God wants.

Be careful today that you do not pray that a particular candidate wins or loses.  God knows far more about how that will play out than we do.  We look at the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart.  That said, ask God to show you for whom to vote.

Pray that God will calm those who are afraid, comfort those who are upset, and grant wisdom to those who are unsure.  Pray that God will work though the electoral system, and that the best candidate will win.

Now.  Trust God to work.  Don't be afraid if the "wrong" candidate wins.  Remember that God is always in control, even when things seem bleak.  Remember that God always protects his own.  Don't be worried about America not being "a Christian nation", but instead work on becoming a nation of Christians -- meaning, of course, that Jesus told us to go and make disciples, and most of the time it should be our main focus instead of politics.

Pray for grace, pray for clarity, and pray for wisdom.

Thank you for taking part in this forty days of prayer for the election.

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.


Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Read: Psalm 51, Deuteronomy 28:58-29:1, and Acts 7:17-29
 

St. Stephen, defending himself before the Sanhedrin, is recalling how God worked through Abraham and Moses.  He gave a quick overview of the story of the Exodus, highlighting God’s role in Israel’s salvation.  Although his listeners knew the story well, Stephen was trying to make a point: That Jesus was the promise of whom their forefathers had dreamed for so very long.  Jesus was the one who was sent to bring them into full covenant relationship with God.  Yet the religious authorities had rejected and killed him.  With that, they all put their fingers in their ears, took Stephen outside the city, and stoned him.
 

We are occasionally guilty of stoning the one who tells us the ugly truth.  Even though we claim to be Christ-followers, we still get stuck in our own ways, and sometimes God will send someone to tell us what we need to change.  We have a choice: We can choose to hear God and change our ways, or we can choose to reject what the person is saying.  While we may not physically throw rocks at them, we can stone people with our words.  The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is patently false.  Words do hurt, and hurt very bad.  One sentence can erase years of hard work, ripping away someone’s self confidence and positive image.
 

Another point is that God works through the lives of people, whether they realize it or not, to affect many people.  Abraham never saw God’s promise come to fruit, but he was still faithful.  He never saw Israel as a huge nation of people, yet he still followed God.  Moses never saw the full promise, either – he led the people to the entrance of Canaan, but he could not enter in and never saw them living in their newly-won homes.
 

Just because you don’t see the results doesn’t mean it’s not doing good.  Sure, there should be some signs that you’re going in the right direction.  You should be able to see short-term results.  Sometimes, though, God will send you to do something that has far greater results than what you can see.  Abraham knew he was successful because God blessed him and made him rich, but Abraham didn’t see the full payment for his faithfulness.  Moses saw results in the giving of the law and getting the people through the wilderness to the entrance of the promised land, but he didn’t see the full payment for his faithfulness.  Some results are necessary, because they help us see we’re going in the right direction, but some of the effects won’t be seen for many years.
 

Don’t get discouraged when you don’t see the full effects of what God wants you to do.  Don’t get discouraged when it seems that the larger promise hasn’t come true yet.  Don’t let yourself get lost in the short-term, either with no results or with the wrong results.  Follow God in obedience and he will make sure it all ends up the way it should.
 

Take some time to pray about this.  Ask God to use you.  Ask him to give you the faith to hear and follow him and the grace to carry out his commands.  Write your own prayer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 39

Thursday, 11/5:

Pray for all candidates of the party for which you normally vote. If you normally split tickets or vote independent, then choose one party or the other for which to pray. Pray that God will lead the candidates of this party, that they will abstain from making promises that cannot be kept and accusations that cannot be proven, and that they will refrain from “slinging mud” at their opponents. Pray that God will speak to them and through them. Pray for the voters who listen to the candidates, that they will be discerning and wise in their choices.

Morning Prayer Guide - Monday

Monday, November 5, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 51; Deuteronomy 6:10-25; and Romans 12:17-21, 13:8-10

St. Paul writes a few instructions to the believers in Rome, telling them how to interact with people who are not believers.  The things he wrote to them are still good things to do, because they help others see God’s love within us.  We are Christ’s representatives in the world, and Paul was telling the people of Rome to act like it.
Do you follow the instructions that Paul wrote here?  What do you need to do differently?  Ask God to help you.  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 38

Sunday, 11/4:
Pray for the news media. Pray that they will report the facts with honesty and integrity. Pray that they will be discerning in their interviews with the candidates and that they will ask the right questions and report the answers fairly. Pray that their viewers and readers will also have discernment and wisdom.

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, November 4, 2012 (Proper 26)
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Psalm 119:1-8, Hebrews 9:11-14, and Mark 12:28-34 (The readings for All Saints may be used instead.)

Today is a day of rest and worship.  Allow the readings to guide your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 37

Saturday, 11/3:
Pray for yourself. Pray for discernment as you choose the candidates for whom you will be voting. Pray for discernment as you watch the news, read the paper, visit news sites on the internet, and talk to your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Pray that God will help you to choose the right candidates, even if they aren’t members of the party you normally choose. Pray that God will help you see through the spin and semantics to discern the candidates’ real beliefs. Pray that God will give you grace toward others who may have different views from you.

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, November 3, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 119:1-8, Numbers 9:9-14, and Luke 10:25-37

The young lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He’d done something he was worried would get him in trouble.  Jesus’ story about the good Samaritan may very well have involved this man – either as the victim, or as one of the men who passed by the victim.  We of course have no way of knowing, and Jesus may have just been repeating a story he’d heard.  But his language suggests that this was a real occurrence, and that he knew who all was involved.

We want to justify ourselves as well.  Do I really have to take care of that person?  She’s not really my neighbor, is she?  Yes, that person is your neighbor, and Jesus really does want you to take care of him or her.  To fail to do so would be to fail Jesus.  “Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my children, you did it to Me.” (Mt. 25:40).

Be a good Samaritan today.  Let your service be your prayer.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 36

Friday, 11/2:
Pray for all candidates of the party for which you do not normally vote. If you normally split tickets or vote independent, then choose the party you did not pray for yesterday. Pray that God will lead the candidates of this party, that they will abstain from making promises that cannot be kept and accusations that cannot be proven, and that they will refrain from “slinging mud” at their opponents. Pray that God will speak to them and through them. Pray for the voters who listen to the candidates, that they will be discerning and wise in their choices. Note: Be gracious in your prayers, even though you may not agree with their politics, policies, or personal beliefs.

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday


Friday, November 2, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.

Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 119:1-8, Leviticus 19:32-37, and Romans 3:21-31

We have nothing to boast about.  Even if we manage to follow the law, if we mess up in one small area we’ve transgressed the whole thing.  We’ve all fallen short of God’s glory.  But fortunately it’s not the end of the world, because Jesus came to make up for our failures, to make us holy when we were unholy.

We’ve messed up.  We’ve made mistakes.  Take time to ask God’s forgiveness.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.  We have not loved you with our whole heart.  We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.  For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we might delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.  Amen.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Forty Days of Prayer - Day 35

Thursday, 11/1:

Pray for all candidates of the party for which you normally vote. If you normally split tickets or vote independent, then choose one party or the other for which to pray. Pray that God will lead the candidates of this party, that they will abstain from making promises that cannot be kept and accusations that cannot be proven, and that they will refrain from “slinging mud” at their opponents. Pray that God will speak to them and through them. Pray for the voters who listen to the candidates, that they will be discerning and wise in their choices.

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, November 1, 2012 – All Saints Day
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.


Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read: Psalm 24, Isaiah 25:6-9, Revelation 21:1-6, and John 11:32-44

In the Methodist tradition, All Saints Day is a celebration of the lives of believers who have died in the past year.  It is a chance to thank God for those whom he has placed into our lives, and to observe the good examples of believers who have gone on before us.

The Gospel reading for today is about Lazarus, whom Jesus resurrected from the dead.  Mary and Martha were upset because he hadn’t shown up on time.  But Jesus is always on time, even when we think he’s late.  And Jesus has power over death, raising the dead back to life and health.

We all know people who have exemplified what it means to follow Jesus, some  living, and some dead.  Think about those who have passed away, and what their lives meant in their churches and communities and families.  What character traits can you learn from them?  How do their lives point toward Jesus?  Take a moment to thank God for these people.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.