Lent Daily Devotional: Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer, as paraphrased by Dallas Willard

Dear Father always near us,
may your name be treasured and loved,
may your rule be completed in us-
may your will be done here on earth in
just the way it is done in heaven.
Give us today the things we need today,
and forgive us our sins and impositions on you
as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.
Please don’t put us through trials,
but deliver us from everything bad.
Because you are the one in charge,
and you have all the power, and the glory too is all yours-forever-
which is just the way we want it.


Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 8

Reading: Mark 8
Prayer of Confession by Blair Gilmer Meeks

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love, for we know our sins, and we cannot overlook them.

We have failed to put our complete confidence in you; we rely on prestige and pass success for reputation; we look to the wealth and power of nations for support; we cling to things, and yet knowing you surpasses all else.

Wash us; heal us; teach us to honor you with truth.

Let us know the joy and gladness of your saving grace that we may have life in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 7

Reading: Mark 7
“Scraps Under the Table” by Laurie Norris

This story reminds me of a time our two-year old son Liam was under the breakfast table with our dog Perry. Liam was eating a piece of chocolate and dropped it. Perry swooped up Liam’s morsel and Liam immediately bit Perry on the ear. Perry, in pain, whipped her mouth toward Liam’s face but evidently understood that Liam was a baby. She did not bite him but let him know that biting her on the ear was not an acceptable thing to do. She was merely doing what dogs do – eating scraps the children drop.

Upon reading the words Jesus says to the Syro-Phoenician woman, we are shocked at the harsh, derogatory sound of Jesus calling the woman a dog. That doesn’t sound like the loving, compassionate Jesus we know. The word that Jesus uses, though, means “little pet dog”, one who is part of the family. In our household, dogs are so much a part of the family that we have the ashes of one in a box on the mantle. Our current dog gets to lie at our feet on our bed while we watch TV.

The Syro-Phoenician woman is not insulted by Jesus’ words. Jesus’ ministry was first to the Jews. They were his people, his priority. She needs help for her daughter and she knows that Jesus can heal the girl. She cleverly responds, “But don’t the dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?” Jesus respects the woman’s faith and heals her daughter. She has persisted in asking for Jesus’ help even after he seemingly refuses her request. This is a great illustration that even when God seems unwilling to aid us, we must continue to seek God’s help.



Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 6

Reading: Mark 6
From Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright

Jesus told us to leave at once. The last thing we saw was him heading up into the hills. Probably off to pray again, he’s always doing that, wish I knew what he said. Then we realized: night was on the way. And there we were, between the black sky and the black waters, everybody tired, almost forgetting the ridiculous things we’d just seen, everybody longing for sleep, and ­­– what was that? Did you see something? It’s – no, it can’t be! It must be a ghost!

And then the voice. So calm, so natural. Almost as though he was teasing us. Here are we, dropping the oars in fright, and there was he, as though he was out for an afternoon stroll, going to walk right by us. I’ve lived by this lake all my life and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone walking on it. What’s going on?

But now he’s speaking again, and this time I sense that he’s looking straight at me. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Well, why not, I thought…and then it happened. Like it sometimes does when he speaks to you. Like a cold drink on a hot day. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ He says that quite a lot, and it rings bells with things I’ve heard in synagogue. In the scriptures. Angels say it to people. God says it sometimes, too. Now he’s saying it.

It was all a bit too much. I simply couldn’t put it all together. The healings, the parties, those lawyers getting stroppy with him, then his cousin being killed, then that business with the loaves, and now this. Maybe we are all crazy. Maybe we’re all going to die if we follow him. But I’ve never known anybody like him and nor has anybody I know. And when we all went off to his cousin, down by the Jordan, John seemed pretty clear that Jesus was the one.

I always had a picture in my mind of what the ideal king would look like, and though Jesus isn’t at all like that, Herod certainly isn’t and could never be. And in fact I have a sense that Jesus is trying to be a different sort of king … and it’s very appealing, his sort of kingdom, even though I still don’t see how it all works out. Perhaps this is how it’s always going to be, for anyone who wants to follow Jesus, now or at any time. Perhaps what he wants from us is not that we should be able to explain it all but that we should just be clear we’re going to go on following him. I may not always understand it first time off, but I’ll still show up. Or my name’s not Thomas Didymus.

Lent Daily Devotional: Psalm 32

Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!


Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 5

Reading: Mark 5
Thoughts by Tamara Thompson

Have you seen Sol? Doesn’t he look great? It’s so amazing to see him relaxed and pleasant. What? You don’t remember what he was like a year ago? He was that guy who lived in the tombs by the lake. Yeah! Crazy, isn’t it? What a scary dude he was back then! Running around naked and filthy—man, he smelled like a trash heap! He was possessed by demons—an army of them! His friends tried to keep him from harming himself and others, but he broke every chain they put on him. He’d cut himself and blood dripped from those cuts constantly. After a while, no one would go near him. He was so irrational and out of control.

What happened to him, you ask? I don’t know how you have missed his story. He’s told everyone possible in the Decapolis. You know that Jewish teacher, Jesus? He saw Sol and commanded the demons to leave him. Sent them into a herd of pigs! Sol said Jesus was the most compassionate man he’s ever met. He wasn’t afraid of Sol, and after the demons left, he made sure Sol got some clothes. Sol said just being near Jesus gave him immense peace. Jesus asked nothing of him, except that he tell his story. And Sol’s been true to his word.

I really wish I could have met Jesus. We were all so sad when they crucified him. You heard about that? Some say he was the Son of God! I heard he was seen after his death. Sol believes that he resurrected. He can’t stop talking about Jesus. He’s started a group of Gentile followers. Hey, want to check it out with me?

Lord, thank you for transforming us through your story.

Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 4

Reading: Mark 4
A prayer by Henri Nouwen (from A Cry for Mercy)

How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?

Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess…. I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again.


Lent Daily Devotional: Prayer

Prayer for Enlightenment by St. Francis

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, grant us in our misery the grace to do for You alone what we know You want to do, and always to desire what pleases You.

Thus, inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened, and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, by Your grace alone, May we make our way to You, Most High, Who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified God all-powerful forever and ever.


Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 3

Reading: Mark 3
“Finding Mercy and Compassion” by Abbie Norris

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus demonstrates how serving God is driven by love and compassion, even and perhaps especially when that compassion supersedes tradition. This comes to the forefront in Mark 3, when Jesus’ decision to heal a sick man puts him in danger with religious officials. Jesus was a religious revolutionary who recognized a gap between orthodox practice and honoring God as love, and this shows in his desire to exercise healing and mercy in the world.

In a recent Sunday school class, members of our group raised the suggestion that, when we decide how to interpret the Bible, our priority should be finding the mercy and compassion in our interpretations. I was struck by the similarity between this thought and Mark 3:1-6. Jesus acts with compassion first and tradition second (or third, or fourth). In modeling our lives after Jesus, should we not seek to do the same? How can we live our faith in ways that seek not to condemn or reform, but to love?

Today, Christianity feels situated in a period of growth where some argue that the world is moving away from faith and other argues that our faith needs to move with the world. Perhaps, in framing our lives after Jesus, this isn’t a question at all. In following Jesus’ example, our faith is founded not in strict adherence but in finding human, godly compassion. In Jesus’ breaking tradition to exemplify God’s Word, I see the beauty of Christianity: a religion fueled by mercy and driven by love.

Lent Daily Devotional: Mark 2

Reading: Mark 2
Thoughts by Sam Snyder

Mark 2 is the story of how Jesus did everything wrong. No, really. Stay with me.

The Jesus in Mark 2 is not a Jesus on the side of power. He’s not, as it were, a tame lion. Instead, to the horror of scribes and Pharisees, he eats with sinners and tax collectors, even calling one as a disciple; he forgives a man’s sins then heals him just to make a point; and he allows his disciples to work on the Sabbath. Every power structure, every law of pious society – turned upside down.

Jesus himself shows no remorse when challenged: “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” “Son of Man”, originally a Hebrew idiom that simply meant “human”, gained in certain contexts a prophetic connotation, signifying something more than human. That understanding is vital for this passage; Jesus had come as both human and something more, and his very presence transformed the mundanity and pettiness of human-controlled law into something greater.

The story of Jesus in Mark 2 is the story of the work of God in microcosm. Jesus defies the law – and in so doing, recreates it. In naming himself “lord of the Sabbath”, he claims authority over law itself, and remakes it in his own image: that of a rabbi caring for his disciples, and of God himself at work among his people. In other words, these revolutionary acts of Jesus do not abolish the law, but rather instate Jesus himself as arbiter of the law, and as the lens through which the law must be viewed.