Man shall not live on bread alone….

Reading the Word

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread,” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

 

Matthew 4:1-4

Reflecting on the Word

Wormwood to his demonic apprentice:

 

Sooner or later [God] withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot “tempt” to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.

 

C. S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters

Responding to the Word

O God, there are things about which I can’t talk to anyone except you. There are things in me about which no one knows except myself and you.

The things which I should not even want fascinate me. The thoughts which I should never allow into my mind, I cannot keep out.

So far I have resisted wrong things, but I know my own weakness, and I am afraid of myself.

O God, come to me with your cleansing power, and make me to overcome evil and to do the right.

I ask even more—fill me with such a love of you that I will not even want to sin anymore.

This I ask for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

 

William Barclay

A Guide to Daily Prayer

Advertisements

Wait on the Lord…

Reading the Word

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

To the person who seeks Him.

It is good that he waits silently

For the salvation of the Lord.

 

Lamentations 3:25-26

Reflecting on the Word

Waiting is not simply another religious activity to be added to the rest. Though we have methods to help us—meditation and silence, for example—waiting is more than physical silence. It is a movement of the heart, a stance we take before God. Waiting is an inner acquiescence, releasing our striving and abandoning our lives entirely to the work of God. Quieting our whole lives, we surrender our activity, our plans, and our dreams. When we wait, we yield up our expectations of what God should do, our precious hoards of ritual and doctrine, our social awareness, and our self-concepts. Waiting is totally submitting to God and inviting God to move in our hearts with complete freedom.

 

Howard Macy

Rhythms of the Inner Life

Responding to the Word

O Lord God,

great distress has come upon me;

my cares threaten to crush me,

and I do not know what to do.

O God, be gracious to me and help me.

Give me the strength to bear what you send,

and do not let fear rule over me;

Take a father’s care of my wife and children.

 

O merciful God,

Forgive me all the sins that I have committed

against you and my fellow men.

I trust in your grace

and commit my life wholly in your hands.

Do with me according to your will

and as is best for me.

Whether I live or whether I die, I am with you,

and you, my God, are with me,

Lord, I wait for your salvation,

and for your Kingdom.

Amen.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Letters and Papers from Prison

(written Christmas, 1943, in a Nazi concentration camp)


What lies deepest in me is not my sin but God.

Reading the Word

Psalm 103

Praise for the LORD’S Mercies.

A Psalm of David.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

6 The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who [c]fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 

Reflecting on the Word

In an art composition, the light and dark values are divided into positive and negative and negative spaces, each defining the other and sharing their boundaries.

In life, knowledge and mystery are parts of the same composition, each defining the other, and sharing their boundaries. They are parts of the same whole, sharing the same space. Good questions don’t always lead to good answers. They might only silhouette the shapes of mystery and outlines of grace.

The mystery of my fickle heart has broad outlines of grace. Who am I? By the grace of God I am His. And when I look deepest into the heart of mine, I see the outlines of grace defining the mystery of my redemption.

 

What lies deepest in me is not my sin

but God.

Stephen Shortridge

Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies

Responding to the Word

God,

 

You are so much more merciful that I could ever imagined in my youth. My life, my need for You, has been beyond my reason—my need for Your love beyond my logic, my need for Your faithfulness profound in my unfaithfulness.

Somehow, I completely underestimated Your grace. I received it but underestimated my need of it. I believed it but underestimated the power of it.

And wanting it, I’m shocked how fierce Your love can be; it is scandalous.

Deepest thanks for Your merciful patience, endless grace, and undeserved love.

And deeper apologies that it’s taken a lifetime of Your forgiveness to convince me of Your love.

Amen and amen.

 

Stephen Shortridge

Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies


Clay in the Hands of the Potter…

Reading the Word

The Word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

Then the Word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

 

Jeremiah 18:1-6

Reflecting on the Word

As our prayer life matures, we become more and more aware of being the clay in the hands of the potter. The clay can do vitually nothing to transform itself into an object of beauty. But it can be soft, pliable, sensitive to the potter’s touch. People often talk about their fear that God’s will may break them, that what he asks is too hard for them to bear. And yet the clay is never broken by anything the potter may do to it—unless the clay has become hard and rigid. As long as it is malleable it will never break, but once it begins to resist the potter’s touch, to push against his shaping, it will be very much in danger of breaking. This is what happened to Israel, and that is why Yahweh sent Jeremiah to tell her that she needed to be broken in order to be refashioned according to the potter’s design. Even her breaking was not to be for her destruction but for her healing.

So it is with us.

 

Thomas H. Green, S. J.

When the Well Runs Dry

Responding to the Word

 

Have thine own way, Lord!

Have thine own way!

Thou art the Potter;

I am the clay.

Mould me and make me.

After Thy will,

While I am waiting,

Yielded and still.

 

George C. Stebbins

Have Thine Own Way, Lord


I will never forget you….

Reading the Word

Can a woman forget her nursing child,

And have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

 

Isaiah 49:15

Reflecting on the Word

Asleep, until your delicate cry cracks open an eyelid of the night. It’s feeding time, for both of us. I stroke your warm head, nurse your drowsy body. And you, tiny hand on my breast, you nourish my soul. Although day is dawning somewhere across the globe, to me the whole world is you and me, the dim lamp in the corner, and the moon.

 

Julie Martin

A Time to Be Borm

 

Responding to the Word

Lord, as I hold her in my arms and kiss her tiny fingers

I wonder if anyone in all the world

Has ever been as happy as I am now!

She’s like a tiny poem

Short but beautiful—

And several years from now she’ll be a story.

Lord, I’m trusting you to write the plot.

Then at last she’ll be a book-lengh novel

Translated into many languages

I am confident of this, Lord

For you are both Author and Publisher.

 

Ruth Harms Calkin

Life’s Little Prayer Book

compiled by Gary Lahoda


New love brings new life.

Reading the Word

“My beloved responded and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.
‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’”

Song of Songs 2:10-13

Reflecting on the Word

Have you ever wondered why spring has always been the season for lovers, the background of romantic literature in every century? It must be because the season of spring reflects the experience of the young lovers. Everything is fresh; new life flows through the world; happiness and colors triumph over winter’s boring grays. Whenever any couple falls in love, it is spring for them because their lives are fresh; everything in life has a new perspective; what was black and white is now in color; what was dark is light. . . .

New love brings new life. Spring lovers, like spring trees, though plain and barren in winter, become full and lovely in spring.

One good indication of real love is the desire to communicate, a wish to discover all about this person whom you love so much. No detail seems too trivial to be related. No mood or feeling of one is unimportant to the other. And you care about the details and the feelings because you care so much about the person.

S. Craig Clickman

A Song for Lovers

 

 

Reflecting on the Word

Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grase to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

  1. W. Tozer

The Pursuit of God


With Open Hands

With Open Hands

Reading the Word

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 

Jesus

Mark 14:36

Reflecting on the Word

To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive. Above all, prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world. In prayer, you encounter God not only in the small voice and the soft breeze, but also in the midst of the turmoil of the world, in the distress and joy of your neighbor, and in the loneliness of your own heart. . . .

In the end, a life of prayer is a life with open hands—a life where we are not ashamed of our weaknesses but realize that it is more perfect for us to be led by the Other than to try to hold everything in our own hands. . . .

In all these moments, we gradually make our lives more a prayer and we open our hands to be led by God, even to the places we would rather not go.

 

Henri Nouwen

With Open Hands

 

Responding to the Word

Dear God,

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week, or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

And bring me home.

Thank you, God, for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.

 

Henri Nouwen

With Open Hands


Perspective of a Child

Reading the Word

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of

heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them . . .

Matthew 18:1-2

Reflecting on the Word

I’m taking photos of light sliding across a wall, light lying out lazy along the pine-planked floor and pouring into the old bottles, when she asks for my camera. She’s not three and a half feet tall. . . .I’m capturing beauty on a Tuesday morning in a farmhouse, giving thanks for now by reverencing it with a frame and the sacred eyes, but how could I have known it would be the child who would hand me the light? “I take some pictures too, Mama? I won’t break anything, I won’t. Promise. . . . She’s cupping her dimpled hands, showing me how she’ll cradle them. . . . “Which button do I press again?” She looks up at me. How do her eyes widen to catch that much unadulterated joy? “Just press this one.” I could inhale her, fragrance of peonies in June. She presses the shutter. Vase. Click. Doorway. Click. Cupboards. Click. Her laughter makes me laugh too and I can hear her going through the house, flagrantly recording all time and space. . . . “Can you show them back to me now?” She holds the camera out to me, as longas the neck strap will allow. Nothing can restrain her giddiness. . . . She’s enchanted by her photos. I grin. Frame of a table. A doorknob. A bookshelf skewed on a tilt. Yet her photos surprise, every single one. Why? Ittakes me a moment to make sense of it. It’s the vantage point. At thirty-six inches, her angle’s unfamiliar to meand utterly captivating: the study ceiling arches like a dome, her bed a floating barge. The stairs plunge like a gorge. She’s Alice in Wonderland all the world grown Everest like around and above her.“Do you like them, Mama?” She pats my cheek with her laughter-drenched hand.

Joy Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts

Responding to the Word

I want that kind of crazy, happy joy, God. . . .

Thank You, Lord, for the perspective of a child . . .

Thank You for door frames and doorknobs . . .

Thank You for soaring ceilings and bed barges and tables that loom large . . .

For her laughter and her wonder and her eyes that turn the world

inside out and stretch it large and leave me again in surprise . . .

in awe . . .

Joy Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts


O Lord…. How Long?

Reading the Word

O LORD—how long?

Psalm 6:3b

Reflecting on the Word

‘Psalm 40’ is interesting in that it suggests a time in which grace will replace karma, and love replace the very strict laws of Moses (i. e. fulfill them). I love that thought. David, who committed some fo the most selfish as well as selfless acts, was depending on it. That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me; now it is a source of great comfort.‘40’ became the closing song at U2 shows and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape t-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from ‘Psalm 6’: “How long’ (to sing this song).” I had thought of it as a nagging question—pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long . . . hunger? How long . . . hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring such comfort; to me too.

Bono

Lead singer for the rock group, U2

Responding to the Word

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;

Make haste, O LORD, to help me.

Let those be ashamed and humiliated together

Who seek my life to destroy it;

Let those be turned back and dishonored

Who delight in my hurt.

Let those be appalled because of their shame

Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”

Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;

Let those who love Your salvation say continually, Oh LORD

be magnified!”

Since I am afflicted and needy,

Let the Lord be mindful of me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

Do not delay, O my God.

Psalm 40:13-17


A time to be born…

Reading the Word

My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret. . . .
Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in They book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me
When as yet there was not one of them.

Psalm 139:15-16

Reflecting on the Word

They say it’s good for one who has lost a loved one to peer into the casket, even just
briefly. The casket lies open to help the living close the lid on their relationship with the
one who died, to help them accept with their hearts what they know in their minds—that
the life in their loved one is gone. With an early miscarriage there is no funeral no viewing, no visual aid to bring
closure to the heart. We know nothing about our baby. We have no memories to help us mourn.
There’s nothing to let go of because there was nothing to hold on to, except a dream.
There were no features we had fallen in love with, not fingers that tapered like his dad’s,
no smile like his grandma’s. No endearing ways about him, all his own. No laugh to ring
in our minds when we think of him. Not even a memory of hearing his heart flutter
through the doppler; he died too young. We don’t know anything about him, except that he was loved.

Julie Martin
A Time to Be Born

Responding to the Word

one day we will join you at the Table
and you will tell us about your life with Jesus
about the gift of love He’s given you
that will never be broken or lost

so although we will never scoot you up to our table
teach you how to blow out your candles
wipe the frosting from your face
or give you stuffed tokens
of our love
today in our hearts we will sing with the angels

happy birthday to you, dear baby
happy birthday to you

Julie Martin
A Time to Be Born