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Today’s Reflection

Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful.
–Joel 2:13

OUR LIVES CONTINUALLY drift away from their true home. We forget we are God’s beloved. We forget that we are not God. We succumb to the temptations of money, sex, and power. We ignore the cries of our sisters and brothers. We focus only on ourselves.

During Lent, God calls us home. We remember who we truly are. We let God be God in our lives. We respond to our suffering neighbor. Put simply, we begin again with God.

Only when the fierce love of God, fully revealed in the Crucified One, pierces our hearts do we respond lovingly to God. During Lent, we listen for this good news: God passionately loves us and wants us to come home. Lent invites us to open our lives to this love however far we may have drifted and to return again to the God who longs for us.

– Trevor Hudson
Pauses for Lent

From page 12 of Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © by Trevor Hudson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How will you open your life to love this Lenten season? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

Psalm 91:15

This Week: pray for Christian writers. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Catherine dei Ricci (February 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God, Who Makes All Things New

Today’s Reflection

O GOD, who makes all things new,
new stars, new dust, new life;
take my heart, every hardened edge and measured beat,
and create something new in me.
I need your newness, God,
the rough parts of me me made smooth;
the stagnant, stirred,
the stuck, freed;
the unkind, forgiven.
And then, by the power of your Spirit,
I need to be turned toward Love again. Amen.

– Pamela Hawkins
The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent

From page 30 of The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lentby Pamela C. Hawkins. Copyright © 2009 by Pamela C. Hawkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2, NRSV

This Week: pray for Christian writers. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Catherine dei Ricci (February 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Awake to God’s Presence

Today’s Reflection

TOO MANY PEOPLE and churches and institutions are asleep to the reality of God’s presence in the world because they live in survival mode. They’ve forgotten their identity in Christ. They’ve forgotten the ultimate reality that the kingdom of God is already at hand and that they are God’s beloved child. To me, this situation is a matter of urgency.

The world has become dangerous and is deeply divided. The world needs people who are awake to that which is of God within them, to God’s love and the power of that love to transform and heal. The world needs churches and institutions that are awake to the same. Thankfully, I also believe, along with many others, that we are in a time of spiritual awakening, and the good news is that people who are awake to their whole hearts are in a position to help others awaken to theirs.

Weavings, Nov/December 2015/January 2016

From “Waking Up to Our Whole Heart” by Johnny Sears, in Weavings, November/December 2015/January 2016. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How can you become more awake to the kingdom of God?Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deuteronomy 26:8-9

This Week: pray for Christian writers. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Catherine dei Ricci (February 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Walking Together

Today’s Reflection

WALKING TOGETHER is a grace-filled metaphor for our life-giving journey with God. Our spirits are loosely joined and yet distinct. We are purposeful yet unhurried as we travel, even temporarily, along a common route. We are pried away from agendas and conscious thought long enough to make spontaneous revelations and to absorb what we did not expect.

God’s call has always been for us to get up and move, to follow. It has always been the walk itself—the arduous invigorating journey together, and not the destination—that joins us to God in indelible and mysterious ways.

Alive Now, Jan/Feb 2016

From “Meditation on Walking” by Elizabeth Ray, in Alive Now, January/February 2016. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Take a walk with someone this week and be mindful of God’s presence as you do. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

Luke 9:35, NRSV

This Week: pray for Christian writers. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Catherine dei Ricci (February 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Walking God

Today’s Reflection

O GOD, who walks beside me
and lets me know I am not alone,
help me to walk with both friend and stranger,
giving and receiving support and caring,
until they are sure of your presence and your promises.who talked and ate and laughed with each one he walked beside.
Amen.

Alive Now, Jan/Feb 2016

“Walking God” by Ann Freeman Price, in Alive Now, January/February 2016. Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

Luke 9:35, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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God, Our Dwelling Place

Today’s Reflection

IN OCTOBER 2010 I was experiencing some indigestion. By midweek I was in my doctor’s office. She immediately scheduled an ultrasound for the next day. I went from ultrasound to CT scan before I left. I was later diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.

The next week I sat in the office of a specialist at a major cancer center who said hastily, “Let’s get this thing out so you can move on with your life.” He suggested a date for surgery three weeks later. I was stunned. Things were happening so rapidly. I knew I had to walk the labyrinth to get centered in prayer. One of the words I heard was remember. …

The decision is less to cling to life than to cling to the Lord of life. I remembered God as “dwelling place” [Psalm 90], my refuge and strength. Over my lifetime God has brought healing into my life and the lives of those I love. I remembered and gained peace. I remembered that God had been shaping me all along. I could trust the Lord of life. I did not know the specialist who would perform my surgery, but I knew the Healer who had been our family’s dwelling place for many generations.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Help us remember that you have formed us and that you are with us, especially when we feel overwhelmed and bewildered. Amen.

Disciplines 2011

From “Focus on Formation,” readings for October 17–23, 2011 by Juanita Campbell Rasmus, in The Upper Room Disciplines 2011: A Book of Daily Devotions. Copyright © 2010 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray the prayer at the end of today’s reading. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.

Luke 9:29, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Labryinth Prayer

Today’s Reflection

THE LABYRINTH is a wonderful walking prayer practice that encourages awareness of journey with God. As it gained popularity in the Middle Ages, the labyrinth became one way to practice pilgrimage rather than make the journey to Jerusalem. It consists of three phases of movement: (1) going into the labyrinth and letting go of all that keeps us from connecting with God; (2) arriving at the center of the labyrinth, which represents the state of union with God; and (3) then leaving the labyrinth and returning to the world in a new way, accompanied by God. …

  • Find a labyrinth.
  • Walking into the labyrinth is a time for shedding anything that keeps you from communion with God. You may want to silently repeat a scripture as you journey. Or use the time to notice your thoughts and feelings and consider these questions:
    What is it like to be on this journey?
    Is there anything I need to let go of?
    Is there something blocking me from experiencing God’s love?
    Am I in need of forgiveness?
    Do I need to forgive?
  • The center of the labyrinth is seen as the point of unity with God, the symbolic dwelling place of God When you arrive at the center, simply rest in God. Remain there as long as you like. Converse with God in whatever way seems appropriate to you.
  • The walk out of the labyrinth is the process of bring God back out into the world with you. As you retrace your steps, continue your prayer and conversation with the divine. …
  • When you finally leave the labyrinth, give thanks to God for your time there.

– Daniel Wolpert
Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership

Excerpted from Leading a Life with God: The Practice of Spiritual Leadership by Daniel Wolpert. Copyright © 2006 by Daniel Wolpert. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Have you ever walked a prayer labyrinth? What was the experience like for you? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.

2 Corinthians 4:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Share God’s Love

Today’s Reflection

GOD OF ALL LOVE, your love for me and for the whole creation is beyond anything I can imagine. Your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. But the immensity of your love does not frighten me; it encourages me. For if I could fully fathom your love and live in it, it would be no bigger than I am. …

I give you myself today as completely as I can, knowing that the experience of your love will create an even greater openness to you in the days to come. Choose for me the best expression of your love as I live today, and I will gladly receive it, as well as seek to find ways to share it with others.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

– Steve Harper
A Pocket Guide to Prayer, Deluxe Edition

From pages 85-86 of A Pocket Guide to Prayer by Steve Harper. Copyright © 2010 by Steve Harper. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Today’s Reflection

DEAR GOD,
Help us to see that we are much more than our scars. You have made us far too complex to be defined by what is without as opposed to what is within.
Forgive us for the times we have devalued ourselves, as well as for the times we have devalued others, for as the psalmist wrote, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.”*
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*Psalm 139:14

– Michael W. Waters

Freestyle

From page 76 of Freestyle: Reflections on Faith, Family, Justice, and Pop Culture by Michael W. Waters. Copyright © 2014 by Michael W. Waters. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Extol the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy.

Psalm 99:9, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Decide What to Do

Today’s Reflection

COMPASSION INCLUDES restorative action. Our cultivation of compassion is not complete when feelings of warm regard are experienced toward either ourselves or others. We must act out our compassion in ways that ease suffering and promote the flourishing of others. Such acts include consoling the grief-stricken, tending the wounded, and befriending those who feel forsaken. Yet actions that are genuinely compassionate often require careful discernment. What does compassion look like, for example, when the wound caused by another is still fresh or when an offender refuses to curb his or her violence and remains unrepentant?

Compassionate action must serve and sustain our own healing and restoration. …. Compassion yearns for the flourishing of all life, including our own. Our capacity for genuine compassion flows out of the strength and fullness of our vitality…

Compassionate action also invites the restoration of others. In the case of an offense against us, such restoration demands accountability. Compassion is not sentimental. Violent actions create wounds, and perpetrators must be held responsible….

Whenever you feel disconnected from your compassionate core: Catch your breath. Take your PULSE. Take the other’s PULSE. Then, and only then, decide what to do.

– Frank Rogers Jr.
Practicing Compassion

From pages 31-33 of Practicing Compassion by Frank Rogers Jr. Copyright © 2015 by Frank Rogers Jr. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

How does the idea of restorative action resonate with your ideas about authentic compassion? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

Psalm 99:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for educators. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section below.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers, call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center web site.

Saints, Inc.:

This week we remember: Aelred of Rievaulx (February 3).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2016 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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