Doing and Being… Musings and Prayers

Two weeks ago I visited my parents’ church, where the sermon was based on the story of Jesus and his disciples visiting Martha and Mary for dinner. Mary was sitting listening at Jesus’ feet, while Martha did all the serving, and Martha got bent out of shape and irritable that Mary wasn’t helping. Then this week at our church, our pastor preached on the same passage! God got my attention the first time, two weeks ago; he got it even more strongly this week with the repetition of the passage and a similar message, so I will be pondering this closely during the coming days.

I am by nature a Mary– I cherish quiet times of contemplation, and I enjoy learning, either by meditating on Jesus’ words in Scripture or by listening and observing, especially to nature. But I can also get into a productive mode, getting a lot done and feeling good about it. Sometimes, though, I all too easily shift into feeling like I’m doing too much or being resentful that someone else isn’t helping enough. I think those are the times this passage is addressing.

Of course, doing is both necessary and important. It’s easy to read this passage as an indictment against Martha and those who are busy like her, but I don’t think that’s what it’s saying. I really like what my pastor said yesterday about Jesus’ words to Martha being not so much a rebuke as an invitation– an invitation to her (and to us) to bring worry and anxiety to him and then sit at his feet to be renewed, so that we can go on to serve gladly in whatever way God has made us to serve.

In the message a couple of weeks ago, my parents’ priest (who says she is a Mary and her sister is a Martha) suggested reading The Practice of the Presence of God, a very motivating short book by Brother Lawrence, a 17th monk who learned to be attentive to God even in the midst of his daily work in the monastery kitchen. For this week I want to respond to Jesus’ invitation to sit at his feet and then take that focus with me as I go about whatever work I do.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Monday: Let’s take time today to be quiet in Jesus’ presence, reading his word, Scripture, or meditating on creation and what it reveals about him.

Tuesday: Today let’s think about the responsibilities or concerns that distract us from focusing on God. Talk with Jesus about your work and your anxiety.

Wednesday: Do you resent others or God because of the responsibilities you have? Ask God for insight into how your approach to work affects your relationships with him or other people.

Thursday: Most of us are anxious or troubled at some time. Ask Jesus for the ability to keep your priorities right, even when you have much on your mind.

Friday: Mary chose “what is better,” time with Jesus, listening to and learning from him. Let’s do this today and find peace and wisdom in him.

Saturday: God doesn’t call us to work all the time or to overload ourselves with responsibility. Praise him for being a God who wants us as friends, not slaves.

“In the moment”

Light in Darkness Prayer Guide


…because of the tender mercy of our God…
the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
 and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.
Luke 1:78-79

Monday: God, the Creator of all that is, is a God of tender mercy. Let’s meditate on this today and ask him in his tender mercy to calm our fears and draw us close to him.

Tuesday: Jesus is the rising sun from heaven, who has brought light to dispel the darkness of the world. Let’s ask him to light our way, especially when the world seems dark around us.

Wednesday: Thank Jesus for the light he has shone into your life. Let’s pray for those we know who are struggling with darkness, that they could experience and receive his light and life.

Thursday: Pray for those who are fearful or grieving under the shadow of death, that Jesus would light their way and comfort them.

Friday: Thank Jesus for the peace he gives to his people; peace that can steady us even in the midst of darkness. Ponder this and ask him to keep you close to him and living in his peace, no matter the circumstances.

Saturday: Thank God for the good gifts of mercy, light, and peace that he has given through his Son, Jesus. Ask how you can share what you have received with those who need God’s mercy, light, and peace.Maine-Sunset-102512

More Easter thoughts and meditations…

In many churches Easter is celebrated for a season, rather than just one day- Easter Sunday, and actually, every Sunday’s worship is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. This week’s prayer guide is from another passage about Jesus’ resurrection, taken from a conversation the risen Jesus had with two disciples who did not yet believe that he had truly risen from the dead. I followed a different format this time, breaking the passage up into separate verses to meditate on each day.

Monday: “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…” Luke 24:19b-21a

Are there ways in which you have been disappointed by God that have affected your faith? If so, talk honestly with him about it. He can handle it, and throughout the Bible God invites people to speak with him openly and honestly about how they are feeling and what they’re thinking.

Tuesday: “In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” Luke 24:22-24

Do you tend to automatically receive or automatically dismiss other people’s testimony? Pray for the ability to accurately discern truth, so that you can benefit from the experience of other believers without being gullible to error.

Wednesday: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Luke 24: 27

Read and meditate on the testimony of Scripture about Jesus and let it inform and transform you.

Thursday: They urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. Luke 24:29

Ask God to open your heart, so that even when you don’t really recognize him or understand clearly how he’s working, you will be able to be hospitable to him in your life.

Friday: When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him… Luke 24: 30-31a

Thank Jesus for nourishing us with the bread of life—his body—and revealing himself to us. Ask him to give you the ability to recognize him in whatever way he is present in your life.

Saturday: Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24: 35

Share how Jesus has worked in your life, that others may be strengthened in their faith through your testimony. Praise him for his gift of Scripture, the fellowship of believers and his presence!


Resurrection: Nonsense or Marvel?

For a number of years I wrote a weekly prayer guide for our church, generally drawing suggestions for daily prayer from one passage of Scripture for the whole week. My focus in these prayer guides is on drawing closer to God through self-reflection and through reflection on Scripture, as well as on pondering how to apply the principles of Scripture to live them out in daily life. I’m planning to start posting one of these prayer guides, either one already written or a new one, at the beginning of each week. Since this is just one week after Easter, I thought I’d start with one of my favorite resurrection passages.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared…when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest…But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:1-12

How often does it happen that we think God isn’t working or is working in one particular way, then find out that he’s actually doing something amazing that we weren’t seeing? Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest example of that, so let’s meditate on that step by step this week.

Monday: The women, acting out of love for Jesus, were prepared to anoint his dead body. Let’s put ourselves in their place and imagine how deep their sadness and despair must have been.

Tuesday: Jesus’ body wasn’t there! Imagine the women’s confusion and the questions hanging in their minds when things weren’t as expected and didn’t make sense. I wonder how often we, like the women, misinterpret what we see, and God may actually be working in marvelous ways.

Wednesday: When the angels told the women what had happened, they remembered Jesus’ words and believed. Let’s ask God to help us be open to the truth, no matter how inexplicable it may seem.

Thursday: The disciples didn’t believe at first, because they considered the women’s words nonsense. How often do I dismiss truth without evaluating it, because I consider the messenger unreliable? Let’s pray for the humble attitude needed to receive truth openly.

Friday: Peter, who had recently denied Jesus, was now open to the truth and eager to respond. I am trying to allow my doubts and failings to drive me to Jesus, so I can find joy in his life.

Saturday: Staying open with heart and faith allows for wonder. Let’s meditate on the marvel of the resurrection and be awed by our great God!

[For the more skeptical among us, I recommend The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, a former skeptic, who lays out evidence for the resurrection from various fields of inquiry. His research helps convince my skeptical side, which often speaks loud and clear. I recently reread this book, and am marveling at the plentiful evidence and the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection.

Mink Pond- Adirondacks