Lent Prayer Guide, week 2

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Week 2: Something Decisive Happened for Me

Silence

Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.

Pray (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence)

God in heaven and in my life,

By your grace, you have guided and protected me.

I so often forget that you save me,

and instead I believe I can save myself.

I always end in failure of one kind or another.

Lead me as you always have, with your mercy;

Lead me to remember your guidance;

Lead me to repeat your love.

May your Spirit inspire the Church

and make us instruments of your

ongoing love and guidance.

Amen.

 

Read — (Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud)

Matthew 26: 30-35

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.  On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”  Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”  “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Reflect (Reflect on the following in your own time, either silently, in writing or journaling, or in conversation with a trusted friend)

  • Matthew describes the deep bond of Jesus’ friendship with his followers, including their promises of loyalty. Have you ever made promises you could not keep, as Jesus’ followers did that night?  Bring them to God in this time of reflection.
  • God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and describes Himself as more loyal even than the mother of an infant. Take a few moments and imagine what that means in your daily life.

 

Read — (Read the following passages again, aloud)

Matthew 26: 30-35

30Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.  31 On the way, Jesus told them, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say,‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”  33 Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”  34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”  35 “No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.

Isaiah 49:15

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

Pray — (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and now aloud)

God in heaven and in my life,

By your grace, you have guided and protected me.

I so often forget that you save me,

and instead I believe I can save myself.

I always end in failure of one kind or another.

Lead me as you always have, with your mercy;

Lead me to remember your guidance;

Lead me to repeat your love.

May your Spirit inspire the Church

and make us instruments of your

ongoing love and guidance.

Amen.

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to repeatedly remember God’s grace in your life?


Many blessings,
MM

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Lent Prayer Guide, week 1

About Lent: Lent is a season during which we remember the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.   This guide is designed to be a guide for those who wish to wholeheartedly enter into the story behind Lent, just as Jesus’ disciples did.  You may have been following Jesus for decades.  You may have never set foot in a church.  At the foot of Christ’s cross, none of that matters.  All that matters is that God gave his only begotten Son to save the world.  To save this town.  To save you.

For the season of Lent, I’m going to pause my normal routine of summarizing and reflecting on the sermon, and offer this resource for guided prayer and scripture reading.  To use this guide, simply follow the instructions for each part, giving yourself enough time to absorb the content and enter in with your body, mind, and spirit.  

Week 1: The Cross of Christ is Where We Find God

Silence:  Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.  In this moment of silent time, let your daily concerns fade into the background of your mind.  

 

Pray  (Read the following slowly, intentionally, and in silence):

Loving God,

you call us back to you with all of our hearts.

I feel your call for me deep in my heart

and I know you want me back

as much as I want to return.

Please, Lord,

give me the wisdom to know how to return.

Make my journey back to you this Lent

one of grace, forgiveness and gentle love.

Amen.

 

Read (Read the following passages slowly, intentionally, and aloud):

Matthew 26: 1-5; 14-15

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”…Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Galatians 1: 11-12

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Reflect (Read and consider the questions, reflecting in silence, speaking, and/or writing):

  1. In the passage by Matthew, there are three points of view to consider: the disciples’, the chief priests’, and Judas’s.  Imagine yourself seeing Jesus from each point of view.  What is the experience like?
  2. Paul insists that the good news he shared with the Galatian church was divine in origin.  What do you think it must have felt like for Paul to come to a knowledge he was convinced was from Jesus Himself?

 

Read (Read the following passages again, aloud)

Matthew 26: 1-5; 14-15

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

3 At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, 4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.

Galatians 1: 11-12

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

 

Pray (Pray the following slowly, intentionally, and now aloud)

Loving God,

you call us back to you with all of our hearts.

I feel your call for me deep in my heart

and I know you want me back

as much as I want to return.

Please, Lord,

give me the wisdom to know how to return.

Make my journey back to you this Lent

one of grace, forgiveness and gentle love.

Amen.

 

Action

What can you do, this week, to make room for a personal encounter with Jesus?

 

Many blessings,

MM

When “I Do” Doesn’t Last

One of the most significant events in the life of an adult is the wedding day.

We dress in clothes we’ll never wear again.  People fly from all over to attend.  Photographers, videographers, DJs, bakers, chefs, musicians, and of course an officiant to facilitate.  Family and friends to bear witness…to witness what?  The bride and groom sharing a bite of cake?  Dancing the macarena?  No.  The entire event revolves around the wedding vows.

But if and when a couple cannot keep their vows, there’s no party.  No photographers.  Only the end of something that, when it began, was meant to last.

Divorce is one of the most painful of life’s crises, and yet it’s so common that I’d bet anyone reading this knows at least one person who’s been through divorce.  It’s not the way God intended relationships to end.  In fact, Jesus is one of the harshest critics of divorce in Matthew 19:1-10.

So it’s essential to health of any marriage to attend to some of the strongest realities that can lead to divorce: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  And rather than giving up to these forces, to faithfully, prayerfully, and humbly address each if they’ve appeared in our marriages.

And our Lord, from whom we each receive grace beyond measure, promises to be with us always, by the power of the Holy Spirit, each step of the way.

For reflection:

  1. Which of the four forces that can wreck a marriage are the most familiar to you?
  2. What is a way to begin to actively reverse those forces in your relationship?
  3. If you are experiencing these destructive forces, what are some ways your relationship with God can help? Be as specific as possible.
  4. If you have experienced divorce, what is some wisdom you’ve learned that might help those who would like to avoid divorce?

Many blessings,

MM

…Then We Had Kids

Psalm 127 (NLT)

We all work hard at so many things.  Health, career, home, school…and of course relationships.  There’s even a familiar axiom: “Marriage is hard work.”

And the same is true for raising children.  No matter how children are introduced into a couple’s lives (natural birth, adoption, fostering, etc.) they represent a permanent change to the marriage dynamic.  Raising children is hard work, and in each stage of their childhood, challenges that get overcome are typically met with new challenges of the next stage of growing up!

Of course, raising children is also noble work!  But sometimes that for which we work the hardest can be the most difficult for us to relinquish control of.  This tendency to forget — or refuse — to let God have the final say in our lives is what Psalm 127:1-2 is about.

Moreover, if we work our hardest at raising good children, we can sometimes neglect the needs of marriage.  This is not only hard on the marriage, but it’s also hard on the kids, who find their deepest security in the strength of their parents’ love and commitment for one another.  So when children become part of a family, parents can (and should) take intentional steps to continue to cultivate the health of their marriage.

For reflection:

  1. What is something that you work really hard at, and what do you hope to accomplish?
  2. What can you do to regularly “let the Lord build your house?”
  3. What are some of the ways the presence of children can make it difficult to “work on” a marriage?
  4. What are some of the ways the presence of children can enhance a marriage?
  5. What are some ways that parents can intentionally nurture their marriage, after they’ve brought kids into the family?

Many blessings,

MM