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Rhythms of Life

Today’s Reflection

STABILITY OF THE HEART does not come naturally. But the simple rhythms of tending to body and soul — making oatmeal and saying prayers, keeping house and singing songs — bring me back to a center, to a still point that is fixed in this place. I do not know how to eliminate distractions (even if I shut down my e-mail, turn off the cell phone, and drive to a pristine retreat center, my thoughts are still with me.)

But I can keep the rhythms that are given to me by my church and community. I can listen to my son and watch the birds more closely.

The desert mother Amma Syncletica said, “If a bird abandons the eggs she has been sitting on, she prevents them from hatching, and in the same way monks or nuns will grow cold and their faith will perish if they go around from one place to another.” I hold this fragment like a leaf in my beak. I’ll take what I’m given and build with it

Alive Now, September/October 2015

Original source of quote: The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Published by Paraclete Press. Reprinted with permission in Alive Now, September/October 2015. upperroom.org. Learn more about The Upper Room.

Today’s Question

What rhythms keep you close to God? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty,

Psalm 104:1, NRSV

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

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 website.

This week we remember: Ignatius of Antioch (October 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Let Me Be Your Teacher

Today’s Reflection

I was daydreaming on Interstate 40 somewhere between Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina, when a voice interrupted my reverie. It wasn’t an audible voice. And I have no way of knowing whether it was God’s voice, the voice of my own subconscious, or — most likely —both. … The voice spoke clearly from an unknown depth, and it said, “Let me be your Teacher.”

That was a word from the Lord that I am still chewing on, not wanting to let it go before I’ve discovered every implication. One implication showed itself immediately. This word was inviting me to put the brakes on my restless search, to stop reading these kinds of books [on the spiritual life] — at least for a while. … “You are always looking for a new teacher, a new insight, a new way,” the voice seemed to be saying, “but I am the Way, and that is enough. Can you trust that? Everything you need to live life with Me — everything you need to look to Me, receive from Me, and respond to Me with a life of thanksgiving and praise — I myself have already given you. Indeed, I’ve given you myself. So learn from me.”

This word was calling me to rediscover the simple heart of Christian spirituality — in Jesus, God has given us everything we need. Yes, new practices and insights and disciplines can help us more fully discover what God has given in Jesus, but they can easily distract us. Our searching can actaully be an evasion of the simple, though not easy, path of looking at, receiving from, and responding to Jesus.

– L. Roger Owens
What We Need Is Here

From pages 12-13 of What We Need Is Here: Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality by L. Roger Owens. Copyright © 2015 by L. Roger Owens. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

In what ways is Christ your teacher? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?

Job 38:41, NRSV

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

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 website.

This week we remember: Ignatius of Antioch (October 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Creative Beginnings

Today’s Reflection

Being a BeginnerWHEN I WALKED into a watercolor class for the first time, I felt insecure, unprepared, and afraid. I imagined that the other participants knew what they were doing, and many of them did. They were all smiles, lugging their well-worn portfolios of supplies, eager to wet their brushes and dip them in color.

Frankly, I had not even understood the list of supplies — vermilion, cerulean, cadmium, #2 brushes — I didn’t have a clue. … Ready for step-by-step instructions, I was startled when our enthusiastic teacher produced a small vase of common thistle — loaded with lavender blossoms — and said simply, “Paint it.”

Asking for assistance again and again, I haltingly mixed purple and white while wondering about my use of the proper brush. The teacher continued to insist, “Just begin. Just paint.” … I fought to set aside my competitive nature. … My aha moment came with my realization that my inhibitions were stifling the creative urge inside me that was struggling for expression.

– Linda Douty
Rhythms of Growth

From page 295 of Rhythms of Growth: 365 Meditations to Nurture the Soul by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When do you feel most creative? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

Job 38:4, NRSV

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

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 website.

This week we remember: Ignatius of Antioch (October 17).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Lessons from Impatience

Today’s Reflection

OFTEN PATIENCE REQUIRES us to slow down, pay attention, and see God in the midst of our frustration. When you get impatient, ask God what God would like you to see in that moment.

– Kara Oliver
Passing It On

From the Daily Practice for Back to School, Week 2, page 53 in Passing It On: How to Nurture Your Children’s Faith Season by Season by Kara Lassen Oliver. Copyright © 2015 by Kara Lassen Oliver. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What can you learn from experiencing impatience? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Mark 10:27, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Rooted and Grounded

Today’s Reflection

ROOTED AND GROUNDED in the Creator’s love,
entwined in Christ’s own life,
may you hear the song of the Spirit today
in trees and grass, in forest and field,
and in the tender stretching of your own heart.

– Sam Hamilton-Poore
Earth Gospel

From page 150 of Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation by Sam Hamilton-Poore. Copyright © 2008 by Sam Hamilton-Poore. 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 blessing. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”

Mark 10:23, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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The Will of God

Today’s Reflection

THE WILL OF GOD and the will of people do not always match. Happily, we do receive wise counsel from family members and friends who have lived life ahead of us. When that is the case, we receive their advice and put it into practice. But discernment involves praying to know and do God’s will, and sometimes that will mean disappointing others who have fixed ideas and opinions about what we should do with our lives. Praying to know God’s will is an act of courage, an act that sometimes compels us to swim upstream in order for the will of God to be born.

– Steve Harper
Walking in the Light

From page 26 of Walking in the Light: Knowing and Doing God’s Will by Steve Harper. Copyright © 2014 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

Today’s reading mentions discernment. What spiritual practices help you discern God’s will? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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A Prayer for the Church

Today’s Reflection

DEAR LORD, thank you for my church
and for the people who are a part of it.
I’m grateful to be reminded each Sunday of
who I want to be,
who you want me to be, and
who you want us to be together.

Continue to guide the pastor, other leaders, and each church family member.
Keep us faithful to you and to the mission you have given us.
Help our lives better reflect your love, both as individuals and as a community.

I pray for courage and encouragement
for those who are starting new churches.
Let their lives show your love and caring
so that many people who need you will find you.

Help my living always be a credit to my church
and a sign of my faith in you. Amen.

– Mary Lou Redding
Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments

From page 107 of Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments, compiled and edited by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2012 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 today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Obedience

Today’s Reflection

WHY is obedience so difficult and often painful? I’m sure there are many answers to this question, but I confess that there is, for me, something of a mystery here. Christ himself is said to have “learned obedience through what he suffered,” even though he was the Son of God (Heb. 5:8). Before his death, Christ agonized and even asked that he be allowed not to die. Yet he submitted to the cross as an act of obedience to the will of God. His famous prayer in the garden, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42, KJV) perfectly articulates the relationship of obedience to sacrifice.

When we are confronted with a decision, we have the choice to do what’s right or not to do it. We can obey, or we can refuse to obey. To obey is to embrace sacrifice.

– Daniel Vestal
Being the Presence of Christ

From page 93 of Being the Presence of Christ: A Vision for Transformation by Daniel Vestal. Copyright © 2008 by Daniel Vestal. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When have you experienced obedience as sacrifice? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

Psalm 22:9, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Spiritual Friendship

Today’s Reflection

AUTHENTIC FRIENDSHIP is found with someone who accepts us as we are. A sure sign of spiritual friendship is when we feel willingness, even a desire, to risk disclosing our true self. Stressful transitions, times of profound grief and loss, moments when we must release some anxiety or fear, hopes we long to express that cannot yet be voiced in public — these are the moments when nothing is as comforting as a companion with whom we can be completely transparent.

– Stephanie Ford
Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship

From p. 33 of Kindred Souls: Connecting through Spiritual Friendship by Stephanie Ford. Copyright © 2006 by the author. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Do you share a spiritual friendship with someone? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

Psalm 22:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Pray on the Run

Today’s Reflection

A MOTHER OF a busy toddler asked me once how to pray with her child. “He won’t be still, not even for one second,” she said. “I’ve tried to get him to be quiet for a short, one sentence prayer, but he won’t event stop for that.” My response was, “Then pray with him on the run. As he is running in the yard, run beside him, and notice the flowers or the leaves or whatever catches his attention. Just comment on them, saying, ‘God made such beautiful flowers or leaves.’ Or say, ‘Thank you, God, for making such a beautiful world.'” Even this small beginning will bear fruit.

– Betty Shannon Cloyd
Children and Prayer

From page 58 of Children and Prayer: A Shared Pilgrimage by Betty Shannon Cloyd. Copyright © 1997 by Betty Shannon Cloyd. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Where could you pray on the run? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“If I go forward, he is not there; or backward, I cannot perceive him;
on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.
God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me;
If only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face!”

Job 23:8-17, NRSV

This Week: pray for those without enough to eat. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

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 website.

This week we remember: John Woolman (October 7).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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