Sunday, January 27, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

Third Sunday after Epiphany, January 27, 2013
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: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; and Luke 4:14-21

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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, January 26, 2013
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, Nehemiah 5:1-13, and Luke 2:39-52

Jesus, at twelve years old, amazed the teachers who were in the temple.  He knew more than most twelve year olds.  You can bet they were all wishing Joseph would show up so they could work out a deal for Jesus to be their student.  He would make anyone look good.

But instead of getting big-headed and full of himself, he went home with his parents and was obedient.  He didn’t try to change the plan.  He went along with what they wanted, because he knew it was the right way.

Sometimes it may seem as though we have all the right answers, and we may be tempted to change God’s plan.  But we don’t need to do that.  We need to go along with what God wants, because we can be sure what God wants is the right thing to do.

Ask God to help you stick with his plan.  Ask him to help you be content with where he has placed you.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, January 25, 2013 – Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle
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: Acts 26:9-21, Psalm 67, Galatians 1:11-24, and Matthew 10:16-22

Many of us know that Saul’s name was changed to Paul on the Damascus Road.  Most of us are wrong.  Acts 9 recounts Saul’s conversion, and several chapters later, St. Luke was still referring to him by his Hebrew name.  It’s not until they are in a Greek-speaking town that Luke uses his Greek name.  Just as most of us have a first and middle name, so did Saul Paul!

The conversion of St. Paul is an important event.  It just goes to show that God can reach anyone, even those who are adamantly opposed to him.  God can take anyone and put them to work building God’s kingdom.  God can take our skills and passion and redirect it into something beautiful.

Take some time to thank God for not giving up on Paul.  If not for him, we’d be missing a huge chunk of the Bible!  Thank God for not giving up on any of us.  Ask him to help you be as passionate about preaching the Gospel as Paul was.  You may find the following prayer helpful:
O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, January 24, 2013
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, Isaiah 61:1-7, and Romans 7:1-6

The prophet writes about a beautiful time, a time when things will be made better.  Old wrongs will be made right.  Life will be golden.  The hungry will have food, the poor will find prosperity, the sick and injured will be healed,  the ruins of Jerusalem will be rebuilt.  Life will get better.

St. Paul also writes about a better life, although from his perspective, it’s already here.  We’ve gotten out of our marriage to the law and death (because the law only leads to death, since no human can ever keep it perfectly) and are now able to live for God.  The curse of death is broken.  Good things are about to happen.

Take some time to pray about this.  Thank God for making a way for you to walk with him.  Thank him for sending Jesus to show us how to live.  Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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 145, Song of Solomon 4:9-5:1, and Luke 5:33-39

Wine in Jesus’ time was fermented in goat skin bottles.  The skins used were freshly tanned, so they still had some stretch in them.  The grape juice was put in them, and natural yeasts ate the sugars in the juice, converted it to alcohol, and gave off carbon dioxide as a byproduct.  As that happened, the skin would stretch and blow up, responding to the increasing pressure inside.  The outside of the bottle, however, would dry out and after fermentation had ended, it would become brittle.

Some people had the bright idea of reusing old skins so they didn’t have to buy new ones.  That didn’t end well, because as the new batch of wine began fermenting and giving off carbon dioxide, the rigid, brittle bottle would burst, and the wine would spill out on the ground.

We don’t need to be like old wine skins, rigid and unable to accept change.  We don’t need to be too set in our ways, because God is a God of growth.  God is continually on the move.  God is always trying to get us to grow a bit more, to become more like him.  He keeps changing things, making us uncomfortable, making us adapt to new things – thereby learning valuable lessons as we do so.  Why does he do that? Because he loves us.

Further, life in general is all about change.  We don’t stay infants our entire lives, for instance.  As go through life, we become more and more mature, becoming more and more like Christ.  This never ends.

Sometimes we look to the past and remember the “glory years”.  We remember when we had several hundred people in church, and dozens of kids.  We remember how wonderful everyone was to us.  Our minds automatically filter out the negative things, and we tend to only remember the good.   In some ways, life now isn’t really that much different than it was fifty years ago.  There have always been rude people.  We forget that winter when everyone got sick about the same time and there were fewer than a dozen at church for several weeks.  We don’t remember that those dozens of kids were only there for a few events.

In other ways, life is very different now.  We have technology that we were only dreaming about fifty years ago.  We have seen the end of the modern age and the beginning of the post-modern age.  We eat out more than ever before, and watch more television, and fewer people attend church.  Where the church used to be the center of the community, it’s now on the fringe.  We have to grow and adapt and change, and we can’t live in our golden memories.  We don’t live in Mayberry, even here in rural Alabama.

God wants us to be adaptable, not caught in a time warp.  He wants us to grow, not stagnate.  Ask God to help you to be flexible and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.  Write your own prayer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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 145, Song of Solomon 4:1-8, and 1 Corinthians 1:3-17

St. Paul’s command to not have division doesn’t necessarily mean that we sweep all disagreement under the rug and try to forget about it.  It doesn’t mean that we have to agree with everything that every other Christian believes.

It does mean, however, that we don’t let our disagreements get out of hand.  We don’t split a church because we don’t get along with the preacher.  We don’t get to the point where there are such factions in the church that we can’t spend time together and be friendly.

Yes, there will always be things with which we disagree.  That’s a good thing, because it helps us learn.  It helps us learn how to see things from another perspective.  It helps us learn to get along with people who have different ideas.  It helps us learn how to listen.  It helps us learn how to express ourselves clearly and with grace.  Most importantly, it helps us see God in a more complete light, because if we see him through one perspective only, we’ll miss the larger picture.

Take some time to pray about this.  Do you get along well with others?  Are disagreements and arguments keeping you from being at peace with others?  You cannot change another person, only yourself.  What do you need to do differently?  Ask God to help you with this.  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Sunday

Second Sunday after Epiphany, January 20, 2013
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: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, and John 2:1-11

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

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Saturday

Saturday, January 19, 2013
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 36:5-10, Jeremiah 4:1-4, and Luke 11:14-23

Jesus cast an unclean spirit out of a man, whereupon he began to speak.  Some that saw it began to say that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of Satan.
Jesus pointed out that was ridiculous.  He told them that a family divided against itself will crumble.  He also said that if he was casting out demons by the power of Satan, then they must be as well.  This didn’t set well with his listeners.

Sometimes people mistake the works of God for works of evil.  It can happen to anyone, actually.  Sometimes we can be quite convinced that this person is evil when actually the problem is with ourselves.  When we mistake the work of God for the work of the devil, we’re in serious trouble.

Fortunately, God offers to help us see him more clearly.  Being so mistaken requires a lot of adjustment, but God is able and willing to help us out.  He’s willing to bring us to a place where we can see him for who he is.

Pray for those who are so confused that they cannot see God’s hand.  Pray for those who think the things of God are things of evil.  Pray that God will help you avoid that trap.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Friday

Friday, January 18, 2013 – Confession of St. Peter
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: Acts 4:8-13, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 5:1-4, and Matthew 16:13-19

Jesus asked his disciples what people were saying about him.  St. Peter, always the one to speak up first, told him that some said he was Elijah, while others said he was John the Baptist or one of the other prophets.  Jesus accepted his answer.  Perhaps he allowed a few moments of silence to pass.  Then he asked, “And who do you say that I am?”

Here it was.  The big question.  Who did his disciples believe he was?  Were they all on the same page, or did he have yet more work to do?
Again Peter spoke up.  “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus was pleased.  “No person has told you this, Simon Bar-Jonah.  God has revealed this to you.”

The next statement has a couple different interpretations, usually depending on whether one is Protestant or Roman Catholic.  We won’t get into all that.  The point is that Peter had recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, and had said so.
The commemoration of this day is important because it records one of the basic, bedrock foundations of our faith: That Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent to us to show us the way to salvation.  Peter didn’t come across his confession by reading it in a book or listening to some preacher on the radio.  He came to it by listening to God.  We should do the same.

You may find the following prayer helpful:
Almighty Father, who inspired Saint Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Thursday

Thursday, January 17, 2013
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 36:5-10, Jeremiah 3:1-5, and Acts 8:18-24

Simon the wizard thought that he could buy the power of God.  He thought that he could just perform this little magic trick and then he’d be a celebrity.  St. Peter, upon hearing his request, got angry at him and told him that his money could die with him for thinking such thoughts.  He told Simon to repent, and that maybe God would have mercy on him.

We can’t put a price on what God does.  We can’t buy God’s Spirit and anointing.  Thinking that we can is blasphemy.  Healing the sick and injured isn’t a magic trick.  Instead, it is a sign of God’s power upon us, a sign that we are one of his followers and that we are in tune with what he is wanting us to do.  It shows that we’ve spent time on our knees in prayer.  It shows that we’ve faithfully followed his commands.  It shows that we are doing just what  he wants us to do.

Fortunately, most of us are probably not trying to buy God’s power like so many magic tricks.  But there are still times when we can get a bit confused about things.  Sometimes we see things on television where people are being healed.  Sometimes it involves being “slain in the Spirit”, and that can bring a whole new level of skepticism.  On the one hand, we know that God does heal us, both through modern medicine and through miraculous means.  On the other hand, we’re leery of big shows, because that doesn’t seem to be God’s style.  We’re not sure if these folks are genuine or fakes.

Don’t worry too much about that.  Focus on following God.  There may come a time when God uses you to heal someone.  It may even be spectacular.  If you focus on following God, you’ll know whether it was genuine or not.  Don’t do things just because you think they will make you seem cool, or extra holy.  Do them because you know without a doubt that God wants you to do them.

Ask God to help you know the difference.  Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Wednesday

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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 106:1-12, Numbers 27:1-11, and Luke 11:33-36

Very few people would turn on a flashlight and then go and hide it under the bed or under a couch cushion.  Who would flip on a lamp and then cover it with a heavy blanket?  The point of turning on a light is so that we can see.
Jesus told us that we need to be sure that we are full of light, not darkness.  If we’re into things that get between us and God, we’ll be in the dark.  But if we put aside things that cause darkness, then God’s light shines in our lives.  Light is good.  We need the light.

Led your light so shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise the Father in heaven.  Write your own prayer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Tuesday

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
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 106:1-12, Judges 5:12-21, and 1 John 5:13-21

Our reading from Judges is a hymn of victory that was sung after the Israelites won a battle over their enemies (yesterday’s reading).  It is similar in form to a Psalm, and was possibly sung in worship.

There are times when we are victorious, and those are times when we need to sing songs of praise.  They might be songs that we’ve always sung.  They might be songs that are printed in the hymnal, or that we’ve heard on the radio.  They might be completely new songs.  However we do it, praising God for helping us through tough times is always a good thing.

Take some time to praise God this morning.  Make up your own song, or sing one you already know.  Try singing one that you love, and then another from a style that perhaps you’re unfamiliar.  For instance, if you’re normally one who sings old hymns, try singing something more contemporary.  If you like Southern Gospel, try putting a Psalm to your own music, making it up as you go along.  You can do this when you’re all by yourself, if you want, so that you’re not embarrassed by people listening to you.  The point is to focus on praising God, and God just wants to hear your heart.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  Between all the music available on CDs, the internet, and so forth, you should be able to find something that expresses your love for God.  Extra points if the song is singing to God instead of just singing about God.  Let your song be your prayer.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Monday

Monday, January 14, 2013
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 106:1-12, Judges 4:1-16, and Ephesians 6:10-17

Most of us can think of someone who has a lot of strength.  Sometimes that’s physical strength: a person might be able to lift several hundred pounds, for instance, or run a marathon, or swing a heavy hammer all day.  Sometimes it’s  emotional strength: a person might be able to go through the most terrible circumstances and yet keep their wits about them and remain calm, or not be offended when people say terrible things about them.  Sometimes it’s strength of will: a person might resist those doughnuts or brownies, despite not having eaten all day, or works a full time job and goes to school full time at night, or even decides to stop a certain habit that is causing harm and resolves to do something else instead – and then does it.

God gives us the strength we need when things get tough.  There are stories of people who exhibited super-human strength at times of great peril.  There are stories of people who, despite their whole lives crashing down around them, remained calm and confident that God would take care of it all.  There are stories of people who broke addictions and the cycle of bad decisions and were able to rebuild their lives, getting to the point that they were able to help others in their times of need.  Just reading the “faith hall of fame” in Hebrews 11 can give us some great illustrations of strength – physical, emotional, and spiritual; strength of character and strength of resolve; and strength given to them by God in order to overcome special circumstances.

What are some of the times in your life where you needed God’s strength to help you through?  What would have happened if God had not come along side you and helped you?  Take some time to pray about this.  Thank God for giving you grace and strength in your times of weakness.  Ask him to help you be strong.  Write your own prayer.

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday

The First Sunday after Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ, January 13, 2013
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: Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; and Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, January 12, 2013
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 29, Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, and 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

There is a time for everything.  There is a season for everything.

Sometimes we get so attached to things that we love that we don’t want to let them go when it is time.  It might be a ministry our church had.  It might be a Christmas pageant or a VBS or a particular way of doing things.

We might also have difficulty going the other way.  It may be time to begin something, only we’re too afraid or too lazy or too attached to something else.  Change is hard, and it can leave us feeling very upset.  But sometimes change is needed.

Take some time to thank God for the changes he has sent to us.  Ask him to help you deal with them and adjust to them, so that you can make the most of them.  Ask him to help you see when the times have changed.  Write your own prayer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday

Friday, January 11, 2013
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 29, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, and 1 Corinthians 2:1-10

The writer of Ecclesiastes, which tradition holds to be Solomon, writes that although he had accomplished all these things, and had bought everything he ever wanted, and never held back anything from himself, he looked at it all and realized it was all nothing.

You can’t take your things when you die.  You just can’t.  People have tried; there is a joke about a rich man who insisted on having a bunch of cash put in the casket with him when he was buried.  But even he got shafted when one of his friends took the cash and left a check instead.  King Tut’s tomb was found in the early twentieth century, full of gold and all kinds of riches.  But he had never been able to use it or enjoy it because he was dead.  Now it all belongs to museums and collectors.

When God made a covenant with Abraham, he said that he was going to bless Abraham so that he could be a blessing to others.  There’s the difference.  Abraham was a rich man.  He had flocks and herds, twelve sons, and more money than anyone around him.  But the reason God blessed him was so that he could take those riches and bless others.

Having money isn’t bad.  Earning money is a good thing.  It’s how we use that money once we get it.  And it’s not just money, either:  It’s all of our resources, skills, and talents.  God gives to us so that we can be a blessing to those around us.  Not just our friends and family, but everyone.

Do you use your resources wisely?  Do you use them to bless others?  Take some time to pray about this.  Write your own prayer.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Thursday

Thursday, January 10, 2013
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 29, Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Some people have a difficult time reading Ecclesiastes because it seems to be so depressing.  They read today’s passage as being a “what’s the point?” kind of message.  Others gain hope from the book, because they see that no matter what happens, the earth keeps turning, people keep living, and God keeps working.

St. Paul writes that what we think of as wisdom will come to nothing.  God’s way seems foolish, but his ways are better than ours.  Science would say that Jesus never actually arose from the dead, or else that he was in a coma for  a couple days (and therefore never really dead).  But we know that he was truly dead, and that he was resurrected.  Foolishness to those who profess to be wise, but wise to those who follow God.

God’s wisdom is always a better choice.  We’ve got a limited point of view, because we can’t see the future and we can’t read others’ minds to see how they think and feel about things.  But God can do both.  God created us, and he knows what we need to do.

What can we learn about God’s wisdom?  How can we begin to follow it?  Take some time to pray about this.  Has God’s way ever seemed foolish to you?  Did you do it anyway, or did you end up doing what you thought was best?  Do you need to go back and make amends?  Ask God to help you.  Write your own prayer.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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 72, Numbers 24:15-19, and Luke 1:67-79

Today’s Gospel reading is the Song of Zechariah.  Remember that this was the first thing Zechariah spoke when God allowed him to speak after several months of silence.  Some of us would nearly explode if we had to be silent for more than a few minutes!  Imagine not being able to speak at all for several months.  Most of us would take a notebook and pen with us, to write messages to the people with whom we needed to talk.  But imagine how hard it would be to communicate if others couldn’t read.

Take some time to memorize this passage, if you haven’t already.  Use it as your prayer.  Spend some time in silence today, just listening to God.  What do you hear?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
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 72, Daniel 2:24-49, and Ephesians 5:15-20

“Don’t be foolish; be wise.  Redeem your time wisely.  Don’t party all the time and miss out on doing what God wants you to do.”

Today’s New Testament reading is short and to the point.  St. Paul doesn’t want us to foolishly sit around and waste time.  He doesn’t want us to just wait around for Jesus’ return.  He wants us to spend our time wisely, living out the calling God has placed on each one of us.

What has God called you to do?  How are you carrying that out?  Are you using your time wisely, or do you need to make some adjustments?  If you don’t quite know what God has called you to do, how are you going about finding out?

Take some time to pray about this.  Ask God to help you redeem your time wisely.  Write your own prayer.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Monday

Monday, January 7, 2013
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 72, Daniel 2:1-19, and Ephesians 4:17-5:1

Today’s reading from Daniel is about magi and dreams.  The story is a bit different from yesterday’s Gospel reading, though.

God has spoken to many people through dreams.  Some of the more notable examples in the Bible were Jacob and his dream of the ladder going into heaven with angels climbing up and down, Joseph the son of Jacob (who was known for his dreams, and for being able to interpret them), St. Peter, Joseph the father of Jesus and his dreams about marrying Mary and taking them to Egypt, and St. John.
God continues to speak to us through dreams.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell the difference between a dream from God and the effects of that burrito from Taco Bell.  Sometimes, however, a dream is especially vivid, and catches our attention.

Have you had dreams that you believed were God speaking to you?  Have you been unsure about any?  Did they change the way you responded to any situations?  Write your own prayer.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Sunday


The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ, January 6, 2013
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: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; and Matthew 2:1-12

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

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Saturday

Saturday, January 5, 2013
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 72, Jeremiah 31:7-14, and John 1:1-18

Today is the twelfth and final day of Christmas.  It has been joyful.  We have spent quite a bit of time talking about light.  Light makes humans happy.  No one wants to be in complete darkness all the time.  Christmas is a celebration of Jesus coming to show us the Light.

Take some time to thank God for sending his Son to us.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, you Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Friday


Friday, January 4, 2013
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 72, Isaiah 6:1-5, and Acts 7:44-53

The reading from Isaiah is about a vision he had of God.  God is sitting on a high throne (a symbol of God’s power) and is wearing a robe which has a very long train – it fills the whole temple (a sign of God’s authority).  Isaiah’s reaction to all this is one of remorse.  “I’m messed up now.  I’m in God’s presence, but I’m an unclean man.”

When we come into God’s presence, our first reaction is always to realize our sin.  Darkness is inside us, because we have sin inside us.  When we come into the light, it shows us our imperfections and shortcomings, and this is embarrassing to us.
Our reading in Acts comes from St. Stephen’s sermon before the Sanhedrin.  He told them that God does not live in a human-made temple, but inside us.  We have God within us, in other words.  We are light-bearers.

As we go about, carrying God’s light in a dark world, people can react in fear and anger.  Just as Isaiah reacted when confronted with God’s presence, others do the same when they see God within us.  It causes them to come face to face with their own problems, and that’s embarrassing.  Sometimes they respond with repentance.  Other times they react with anger and fear, and reject us.

Don’t take it personally.  Just keep bearing God’s light in the world.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit has to work on people for quite a long time before they will accept God.
Do you bear light?  How can you continue to do so?  Ask God to help you shine his light in the world.  Write your own prayer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide -- Thursday

Thursday, January 3, 2013
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 72, Job 42:10-17, and Luke 8:16-21

The Feast of the Incarnation (commonly known as Christmas) is all about light in the darkness.  Darkness is absolute until even the tiniest light shines.  Advent happens during the northern hemisphere’s darkest time.  The winter solstice occurs on December 21st or 22nd, right as Advent is coming to a close.  Then Christmas happens.  Trees decorated with hundreds of lights (this author’s tree has well over a thousand lights, for instance), and candles in windows.  The church is lit up with candles and lights of all kinds.  The Christ candle on the Advent wreath is lit for Christmas Eve and Day.  Christmas is the celebration of the Light of the World coming to dispel the darkness.  As St. John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (Jn. 1:5). 

The rest of the world has already moved on past Christmas, past New Year’s Day, and is on to the next thing.  Valentines cards and decorations went up on St. Stephen’s Day in some stores, and later that week in others.  But here we are still celebrating the Light of the World.  Christmas is much more than just the story of Jesus’ birth.  It is the celebration of the Incarnation.  It is the time when we give thanks to God for coming and taking on human form to live and work among us, teaching us how we should live.  Let’s not look too quickly to the cross, however, but instead focus on Jesus revealed to us.

What can we learn about God from the Incarnation?  What can we pick up from Jesus’ life among us?  There are so many things that we could list.  One that comes to mind is that God loves us so much that he just had to send his Son to come and demonstrate for us the way to salvation.  He didn’t want us to be lost in darkness.  He sent us the Light.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Wednesday


Wednesday, January 2, 2013
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 147:12-20, Proverbs 1:1-7, and James 3:13-18

St. James writes that, if we really are wise, we will show with our actions and words that our wisdom is God’s wisdom and not our own.  We don’t want to exhibit fruit that shows we’re selfish.  That’s not something that is easily covered up, either.  If we’re going to show fruit of Godliness, then we have to be Godly inside.  If we’re not Godly inside, then our fruit shows that.

Are you really wise?  Are you wise with God’s wisdom, or your own?  How do you know?  Do others see your actions and words as being Godly, or selfish and bitter?
Take time to pray about this.  Ask God to help you bear good fruit, not bad.  Write your own prayer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Morning Prayer Guide - Tuesday

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 – Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
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: Exodus 34:1-8, Psalm 8, Philippians 2:5-11, and Luke 2:15-21

The key verse is the final verse: “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus falls on the eighth day of Christmas.  It commemorates Jesus’ circumcision and naming, which in Jewish tradition happened on the same day.  It has been celebrated, in one form or another, since the early- to mid-fifteenth century.  Since it falls during Christmastide, the color is white or gold.
St. Paul wrote that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Perhaps this is why most Christians bow their heads in respect when the name of Jesus is mentioned in Church.

Take some time to praise Jesus.  Don’t ask for anything just yet – let that come later.  Just focus on praising him.  You may find the following prayer helpful:

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.