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Not Another To-Do

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

MEDITATION PRACTICE is not another to-do to add to our daily lists but a way of life. It shapes our faith journey and cultivates and deepens our relationship with God, which, in turn, affects our relationships with one another—and all of creation. When we begin with listening and experiencing God each day, we realign ourselves with God’s still small voice. This new way of life doesn’t require a total upheaval, remodel, or demolition. It simply starts with a beginner’s mind and a longing to connect with God, one breath at a time.

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 103 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Does your prayer practice allow for time to listen? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;.
—James 1:19, NRSV

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Devotion

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

A DEVOTIONAL MEDITATION practice is one that focuses on God through adoration—love and respect—as well as gratitude, reverence, and veneration. We already practice devotion to God through our worship experiences in our own faith communities. Devotional meditation uses scripture, prayer, mantras, hymns, and Taizé songs to offer humble obeisance to God.

Why do we need a devotional meditation practice? Because most of our thoughts and actions revolve around us. Devotion helps us recalibrate ourselves toward God, who is our rightful Center. It helps us engage in the contemplative practice of theoria (“gazing”). When God is our North Star, we can more easily calm our minds and draw nearer to our Creator. In doing so, we become attuned to God’s voice and will for our lives. There’s no shortage of ways to do this, but here are some examples of devotional meditation.

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 82 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What does it mean to be devoted? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
—Mark 12:30, NRSV

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Skeptical

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

I’M NOT SKEPTICAL about the entirety of spiritual practices—just the ones in which I’m supposed to sit completely still with my phone beside me to calm my traumatized mind and listen for God. I can pray and journal until the end times—my brain spinning plates like an overachieving carnival worker. But I’ve always doubted my ability to sustain a sitting-still, ears-open meditation practice, which is different from writing and praying. How do people use [meditation] apps without launching into a silent monologue in which a very bored God is the sole audience member? How do I sit and actually listen, instead of hopping from topic to topic and prattling away in my mind? And, most importantly, how do I do it every day?

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 12 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What are your daily habits? Is being still one of them? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil…
—Ecclesiastes 4:6, NRSV

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Be Still

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

MEDITATION, I learned, is often wordless prayer. This intentional and quiet practice helps us focus our attention on God—and listen for God’s “still small voice”—so that we may experience God’s revelations. In contrast with prayer, meditation uses fewer words (or none) so that our spiritual and mental effort is concentrated on soothing the mind’s chaos to hear what God has to say.

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 14 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Have you been still to listen to God’s voice today? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Be still, and know that I am God!
—Psalm 46:10, NRSV

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Traps

This week, Upper Room Daily Reflections features excerpts from One Breath at a Time by J. Dana Trent.

Today’s Reflection

WE ALL YEARN for space to practice. Much like the early church monastics withdrew to the wilderness because the institutionalized church no longer filled that need, today’s Christians feel that same tug. We have become too entrenched in our own noise—our jam-packed worship routines and prayer formulas—that we have drowned out God’s voice. We need quiet practices like breath meditation, centering meditation, lectio divina meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and devotional meditation to facilitate our listening to and experiencing God.

I’ve learned that I shouldn’t worry about not knowing enough or seeking a perfect practice. These are traps that place me and my ego in the center of spiritual practice, not God. Humility keeps me reliant on God for guidance; curiosity and persistence help me remain in a mind-set focused on growth. My meditation practice allows me to deepen my connection with God and others.

—J. Dana Trent
One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation

From page 98 of One Breath at a Time: A Skeptic’s Guide to Christian Meditation by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

In what ways are your prayers like the prayers of your childhood? How are they different? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”
—Matthew 19:14

This Week: Give thanks to God for giving you the breath of life. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

Practice seeing blessings all around you! Upper Room Books author Beth A. Richardson invites us to practice the Celtic way of seeing God in everyday life. Receive 20% off of the eCourse Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Ask Good Questions

Today’s Reflection

LAST WEEKEND I started mentally gearing up to host a meal. What date? How many? Who? I’ve learned that a good dinner party includes people who share common interests but can also bring fresh ideas to enliven the table talk. I scribbled names of professional women with admirable faith, all lively conversationalists. The ideal grouping I envisioned the perfect ladies’ night.

Even the thought of entertaining can prompt me to tidy up. Skimming through and discarding old magazines, I stared at a bold-faced headline that made me think twice about the potential guest list: “Guess Who Ought to Be Coming to Dinner.” I stopped and read the smaller print of the text by the Reverend Dr. Bonnie Thurston about Jesus and his “unacceptable dinner guests.” She asked, “What if I invited folks to dinner and did not worry whether they belonged at the table?” …

Lord, whether I’m planning a dinner or a day, help me to ask good questions, starting with, “[God,] What do you want me to do?”

—Evelyn Bence
Room at My Table

From pages 24-25 of Room at My Table: Preparing Heart & Home for Christian Hospitality by Evelyn Bence. Copyright © 2014 by Evelyn Bence. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

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

Today’s Scripture

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
—1 Corinthians 12:7, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone beginning a good habit. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

You are invited to engage with The Upper Room. Sign up to receive newsletters and updates from The Upper Room ministries that interest you. Engage with us.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Denying Self

Today’s Reflection

Let’s start planning for Lent now. 
Why wait until March 6th?

DURING LENT, we talk of self-examination and “giving up something.” To those who are unfamiliar with these practices, Lent may sound like a Christian self-improvement season. We focus on bad things we need to eliminate from our lives. We replace our normal greeting, “The Peace of Christ be with you,” with the Lenten alternative, “So what are you giving up this year?” We confess and examine our lives. We talk about our struggles, the times we fail to keep our Lenten disciplines. Lent may seem composed of difficult tasks we endure to get to Easter, dues paid to attend the sunrise service.

Do we focus on ourselves too much in Lent? Have we lost sight of how our Lenten practices are meant to draw us closer to God?

—Max O. Vincent
Because of This I Rejoice

From pages 13-14 of Because of This I Rejoice: Reading Philippians During Lent by Max O. Vincent. Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Lent begins on March 6. What spiritual practice can you plan to draw you closer to God this year? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Make my joy complete.
—Philippians 2:2, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone beginning a good habit. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

You are invited to engage with The Upper Room. Sign up to receive newsletters and updates from The Upper Room ministries that interest you. Engage with us.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Hospitality

Today’s Reflection

EVER-LOVING GOD, who having loved us loves us still, help us to hear again your word, “By this shall they know you are my disciples; that you love one another.” Turn our hostility into hospitality and our callousness into care. Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

—Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck
A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People

From page 175 of A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck. Copyright © 1990 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Where can you provide hospitality to someone today? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
—1 Corinthians 12:3, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone beginning a good habit. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

You are invited to engage with The Upper Room. Sign up to receive newsletters and updates from The Upper Room ministries that interest you. Engage with us.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

{ 9 comments }

God Moments

Today’s Reflection

AS YOU GO through the day, let particular moments bring deep awareness of God and life. I usually find these moments come as invitations and, although many of them get lost in my busyness, the fruit of taking time to respond far outweighs the small investment of time.

Let me describe some God moments from today. While driving to work I noticed a group of pelicans sitting on a weir in a small river, drying their wings in the morning sun. I allowed the moment and its beauty to touch me, to speak to the deep places within me. During the morning as I worked in the church office, I experienced two interruptions. First came a young woman from a meeting in the room next door. It was a brief conversation, but she suddenly, quite spontaneously, came over, kissed me on the cheek, and then left. It felt like a gift to be treasured for a few moments.

Around lunchtime someone went into the church to practice for a piano recital. Beautiful music flowed throughout the building, and I was moved to pause and allow it to touch me. On some days I perceive many such moments at other times I am capable of missing them all! But I have come to see them as God moments, calling me to awareness of the depth and richness of the present moment and raising my awareness.

—Ann Siddall and Gary Stuckey
Tending the Seed

From pages 49-50 of Tending the Seed: Nurture Your God-Given Potential by Ann Siddall and Gary Stuckey. Copyright © 2005 by Ann Siddall and Gary Stuckey. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Where will you look for God’s presence today? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
—Isaiah 62:5, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone beginning a good habit. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

You are invited to engage with The Upper Room. Sign up to receive newsletters and updates from The Upper Room ministries that interest you. Engage with us.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Uncertainty

Today’s Reflection

O HOLY ONE, be with me in my uncertainty, my confusion.
I hardly know which way to turn,
yet my heart in expectation turns to you.
Somehow I know — I trust —
that you honor my willingness,
because it’s all I have right now.
Even if I make a misstep and stumble,
I trust your gracious Spirit
to steer me back on the path.

So accept my feeble effort, my availability,
my deep desire to serve you.
I no longer ask for a vision of the whole journey,
but simply for the next step.
Shine your holy light on my path forward,
and I will take that step
with your loving, forgiving Spirit ever at my side.
Amen.

— Linda Douty
Praying in the Messiness of Life

From page 104 of Praying in the Messiness of Life: 7 Ways to Renew Your Relationship with God, by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2011 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Do you sometimes have difficulty choosing your “next steps” in life? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.
—Isaiah 62:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone beginning a good habit. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

You are invited to engage with The Upper Room. Sign up to receive newsletters and updates from The Upper Room ministries that interest you. Engage with us.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.

Sponsored by The Upper Room. Copyright © 2019 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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