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No Darkness

Today’s Reflection

WHERE THE LOVING eye of the soul is continually fixed upon God, there can be no darkness at all.

– John Wesley
A Longing for Holiness

From page 42 of A Longing for Holiness
Selected Writings of John Wesley
, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright (c) 1997 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission.” http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Name the darkness in your life during your prayer time. Imagine the light of God shining on you. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD. May your hearts live forever!

Psalm 22:26, NRSV

This Week: Pray for victims of gun violence. 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: Jacinta Marto, Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos (February 20).

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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People Who Extend Compassion

Today’s Reflection

PEOPLE WHO EXTEND COMPASSION to us are guardians of our soul. John Makransky calls them benefactors, emissaries of love in our lives. These are people who see us, understand us, value us, and celebrate our homecomings. They offer us the inestimable gift of revealing to us the truth of who we are – we are worthy of love even in our shame; we are held with love even when we forget it; our beauty is beheld even when we feel blemished; though our journeys leave us broken and burdened, we are and remain thoroughly beloved.

– Frank Rogers Jr.
Practicing Compassion

From page 44, Practicing Compassion by Frank Rogers Jr. Copyright (c) 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

Who extends compassion to you? To whom do you extend compassion? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Psalm 22:23, NRSV

This Week: Pray for victims of gun violence. 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: Jacinta Marto, Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos (February 20).

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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When You Feel Overwhelmed

Today’s Reflection

CENTERING
Imagine that you are in a boat rocking wildly on the choppy waves of a rough ocean. Then the waves become calm, and the boat moves gently with the water. Feel the rhythm as the boat lifts and falls like a cradle being rocked. Allow yourself to relax.

PRAYING
Ever-present God, thank you for being here with me right now. In the chaos of my life, I often forget that you are always with me, always seeking to bring me peace.

People demand so much of me and my time. I face the requests of others, the needs of others, the expectations of others — always others.

I have so much to do and so many responsibilities resting on my shoulders.

I feel overwhelmed, as if the world around me is a heaving, crashing sea, and I am adrift in a small boat, unable to keep the waves from closing over me.

Only you can bring order out of this chaos. Say the word, All-Powerful God, and I know the seas will be calmed and that I will be safe. I know this — yet I’m afraid to let go of the tiller and trust you.

My mind skitters around my many concerns: What if something doesn’t get done? What if someone is angry with my actions? What if…?

Even as I say these words, I can hear how foolish they are. You, the God of my life, are also the God of order. Bring order to my life, and in doing so, take care of all those concerns that rise up around me like stormy waves. Calm the seas of my busyness; still the waters of my “doingness.” Let me drift on the gentle swells of your love and care. ….

Thank you, O God, that the same hand that stilled the waters holds my hand.

LISTENING
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

RETURNING
Throughout the day, imagine yourself on a calm ocean, quietly rocking in a small boat.

– Quiet Spaces: Prayer Interludes for Women

From pages 106-108 of Quiet Spaces: Prayer Interludes for Women by Patricia Wilson. Copyright © 2002 by Patricia F. Wilson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. Note: See MyQuietSpaces.org, the website for women that was inspired by this book. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Practice today’s mediation and carry it with you throughout the day. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.”

Genesis 17:1-2, NRSV

This Week: Pray for victims of gun violence. 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: Jacinta Marto, Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos (February 20).

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 Love Story, Part 2

Today’s Reflection

HARRY [SAID]: “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Now this is a classy place.’ So I say, ‘Well, okay, is there somewhere we could sit and have a glass of wine? You see, today’s our 40th wedding anniversary, and we’ve come to celebrate.’

“And just about then, the owner of the restaurant walks by, overhears us, and says, ‘You two been married for 40 years?’

“‘ Sure have,’ I say.

“‘Get outta here, 40 years today?’

‘Yes sir, and ready to do 40 more.’

“‘Well, come on in,’ he says. He takes off our coats, and in we go.

“Man, you should have seen this place. It was like walking into paradise. All the tables had white cloths and crystal wine glasses and 4 or 5 forks and spoons lined up next the china. … They even had a sculpture of ice. I’m telling you, this place was classy. The owner, he takes us to this big round table by the window — the best seats in the house — helps us into our chairs, and says he’ll be right back. Well, me and the missus are still figuring out what all the forks are for when he comes back with the guy in the tuxedo, a bottle of champagne, and 4 glasses.

“‘This is on the house,’ the owner says. ‘We’re going to have a toast. Tonight, we celebrate 40 years of wedded bliss.’ Well, … one of the waiters walks by. ‘What’s going on?’ he asks. ‘We aren’t even open yet.’

“The owner says, ‘These two have been married for 40 years.’

“‘Get outta here,’ the waiter replies. ‘Really?’

“‘Yeah,’ the owner says, ‘go get yourself a glass.’ He runs off and a waitress walks by.

“‘What’s going on? We aren’t even open yet.”<“‘These two have been married for 40 years.”

“‘Get outta here, really?’

“‘Yeah, go get yourself a glass.’ Then a busboy comes, a few more waitresses, and more waiters too with more glasses and more champagne until there’s so much commotion going on, the cooks hear us way back in the kitchen. This guy with a chef’s hat leans out the door and hollers, ‘What’s going on out there? We’re not even open yet.’

“‘These two have been married for 40 years,’ everyone replies.

“‘Get outta here, really?’

“‘Yeah, go get yourself a glass. Get the other cooks. Get everyone who’s around. We’re celebrating 40 years of wedded bliss, and everybody’s part of the toast,’ the owner says.

“The next thing you know, there’s about 30 people standing around our table, some of them wearing tuxedos, some of them in jeans and aprons, all of them with a glass in the air as happy for us as if we were family. I tell you what, that was one classy place.”

In that moment of telling his story, Harry had come alive, radiant in this memory when strangers gathered around a table to celebrate love and marriage. All I could think to say was something pretty silly. “Gee, Harry, those are the moments that really warm your heart, aren’t they?”

He paused for a bit, still recalling the sacred waters of that toast. Then he looked up at me and said, “Warm your heart? No. Those are the moments that keep me alive.” Then after a few moments, he spoke again. “Tell me something,” he said. “You’re a seminary student. Do you think heaven will be like that?”

This time I knew just what to say. “Harry,” I said, “I think heaven is going to be exactly like that.”

Compassion in Practice

From pages 56-58 of Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus by Frank Rogers Jr. Copyright © 2016 by Frank Rogers Jr. 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 would you describe heaven? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

1:11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:11, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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 Love Story, Part 1

Today’s Reflection

WHEN I WAS a student in spirituality, I met a man who knew how to ground himself in the sacred source of compassion. I was in need of spiritual replenishment, so I paid a visit to the local monastery at the edge of town. It was early when I drove through the gates. Instantly, I entered a world both still and mystical. I drove along the road and parked beside a ’64 Rambler. I found the chapel and entered through the front door. The altar was already set — candles lit, a draped plate of bread, a chalice filled with wine. Weekday Eucharist was about to commence. I stepped into the sanctuary, and that is where I first met Harry.

Harry was an elderly gentleman sitting alone about halfway toward the front. His clothes looked like they had been bought at a thrift store — a tattered tweed jacket, a wrinkled white shirt, a clip-on tie inside a V-neck sweater. Most distinctive, though, was this stranger’s posture. He had turned around and was beaming in my direction. It was as if he knew me, as if he was waiting for me — like he was the host of this party, I was the guest of honor, and he was so glad I had finally arrived.

Having no idea who he was, I simply smiled back, sat on the chapel’s opposite side, and ignored him during Eucharist. When Mass was over, he grabbed my arm, and we chatted as we walked toward our cars. So began our daily ritual.

I learned his name, Harry, and that he was 83 years old and a retired telephone repairman. He and his wife raised two boys on a working-class salary. He was proud of them both — proud that they went to college and both became doctors. Harry lived alone. Some 15 years earlier, his wife had died after 47 years of marriage. …

One spring morning, I asked him a question. “Harry,” I began, “every day I come to Mass, you’re already here. What about the Eucharist is so meaningful that you make it the center of every day?”

Harry cocked his head, leaned forward on his cane, and stared into the distance. “I don’t know,” he mused after a spell. “I guess it just feels right somehow.” And then, almost as if he were changing the subject, he said, “Say, did I ever tell you about my 40th wedding anniversary? Man, was that something else. The missus and me, we’d been married 40 years, and we were busting to do something special. The boys were away at college, so it was just the two of us. We dug out our best clothes from the closet, got all dolled up, and drove an our all the way to the Jersey Shore, looking to find the best restaurant around. No Denny’s for us, no sir. We wanted something classy. And as it turned out, we found something even classier than we knew existed: a restaurant that’s only open for dinner. … Now that’s classy.

“But we didn’t know that at the time. we just drove up in front of this fancy-looking place on the ocean and walked in. There was this man all dressed up in a tuxedo by the door, and he asks if he can help us. I say, ‘Sure, we’ve come here for dinner. We’d like a table for two.’

“He says, ‘That’s fine, the only problem is, it’s a quarter to six, and we’re not open yet.’

“‘You’re kidding,’ I say. ‘You’re a restaurant, right?’

“‘That we are, sir,’ he says. ‘But here, we only serve dinner.’ (to be continued tomorrow)

– Frank Rogers Jr
Compassion in Practice

From pages 56-58 of Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus by Frank Rogers Jr. Copyright © 2016 by Frank Rogers Jr. 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 do you think the story will end? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.”

Mark 1:10, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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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Lenten Action

Today’s Reflection

GIVING UP SOMETHING for Lent is a familiar tradition for many, a variation on an old and rich tradition of self-denial known as fasting. … Maybe you know people who approach the season of Lent by giving up chocolate or coffee or another indulgence and then follow through with that intention until Easter. The idea of giving up something – usually a personally meaningful practice or custom – for Lent has become one way to fast during the season. The reasoning behind this ancient tradition focused on ways to develop openness to God. …

This Lenten season I invite you to break from the usual custom of fasting or other form of self-denial and, instead, to fast from apathy. That means you set aside all your noncaring attitudes and move closer to the caring love of God. Even in its mildest form, apathy is a spiritual illness. The cure for apathy is also a spiritual one. … We must move from prayer to action.

– George Hovaness Donigian
A World Worth Saving

From pages 17-18 and 23-24 of A World Worth Saving: Lenten Spiritual Practices for Action by George Hovaness Donigian. Copyright © 2013 by George Hovaness Donigian. 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 action would you consider taking up during Lent? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,

1 Peter 3:18, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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 Lenten Garden

Today’s Reflection

IF WE PICTURE all the obstructions between us and God as a wilderness, Lent presents us with time to clear and cultivate a part of that wilderness, to create an open space in it. In this newly opened space, we may live more freely and commune more closely with the divine. We can transform this wilderness and make it our home, our garden, a place that invites God in and asks God to stay.

– Sarah Parsons
A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent

From page 9 of A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent by Sarah Parsons. Copyright © 2005 by Sarah Parsons. 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 would your Lenten garden look like? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

Psalms 25:1, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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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Lent

Today’s Reflection

LENT IS the forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays) during which we turn our attention to God and the things that keep us from God. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. continues through Holy Week, and ends at Easter.

Lent is observed differently in different traditions, but it is generally a time of turning toward God and turning away from things that separate us from God.

– “40 Days: A Guide to Lent”

From “40 Days: A Guide to Lent,” page 37 in Alive Now, March/April 2011. Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn about the season of lent.

Today’s Question

Do you observe the season of Lent? What do you do to observe it? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalms 51:1, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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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Prayer from the Heart

Today’s Reflection

WE ENTER PRAYER with our whole being. When we talk to God we employ our thinking faculties. Good thinking may lead to good theology based on biblical study. As we listen to God, we give thought to what we hear. So, of course, we use our heads — and more. We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our whole being. We pray with head and heart, our whole selves in communion with our Maker.

Simeon, called the New Theologian, was a prolific writer and teacher of prayer around the year 1000. He founded a monastery and also spent years in silent retreat. He warned against prayer that is only in the head. Instead, he said that the mind should be in the heart. We pray from the depths of the heart, enjoying the love of Christ.

– J. David Muyskens
Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God

From page 82 of Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God: The Practice of Centering Prayer by J. David Muyskens. Copyright © 2006 by J. David Muyskens. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When you read “we pray from the depths of the heart,” how do you interpret that? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.

Psalms 25:1, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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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Extended Sabbath

Today’s Reflection

FOR ME, a retreat is a time set apart to be reminded of God’s presence in a deeper way. It is a time to remember again that God holds the world and me. It is a time to relax into God’s sovereignty and to remember God’s activity, not my own. It is a time that restores the rhythm for me between work and rest. As I think on it, for me retreat is extended Sabbath.
–a mother, wife

– Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul H. Lang
Time Away

From page 29 of Time Away: A Guide for Personal Retreat by Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul H. Lang. Copyright © 2010 by Ben Campbell Johnson and Paul H. Lang. 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 been on a spiritual retreat? Describe the experience Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:16, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. 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: Valentine (February 14).

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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