Ash Wednesday: Where Your Treasure Is There Your Heart Will Be – Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

1“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Notice how the space around you creates a safe a holy space for you.  How is God present in this space with you today?
  • In the privacy of this space set apart for your time of prayer today, how do you wish to recognize your relationship with God?  Do you want to sing and dance?  Do you want to write a love letter to God?  Do you want to paint your treasure?
  • In this safe space, thieves cannot come in and steal these holy treasures.
  • During Lent, you are invited to notice how you authentically desire to respond to God in relationship.
  • Savor these treasures.  Take mental pictures of them so that you may call upon the memories when you need to be reminded of your heavenly treasures.
  • Savor this time in prayer.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 14, 2018, Ash Wednesday Year B

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings 
(c) 2018 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

Ash Wednesday: Sound the Alarm on My Holy Mountain – Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

1   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near —
2   a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful army comes;
their like has never been from of old,
nor will be again after them
in ages to come.

12  Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13       rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the LORD, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD, your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16       gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep.
Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD,
and do not make your heritage a mockery,
a byword among the nations.
Why should it be said among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes, bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • What darkness and gloom surrounds you today?
  • What darkness and gloom lies within you today?
  • Use your imagination to bring all of the darkness and gloom in front of you and try to hold it like a ball.
  • How big is the ball?
  • How heavy is the ball?
  • God asks you to bring the ball to God.  God asks you to return to God.
  • Lean into God’s strength to bring all of the darkness and gloom with you to God.
  • Bring the fullness of yourself to God.  Bring your whole heart.
  • God will meet you.
  • Return to the LORD, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
  • Rest with God.  Listen with God.
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday Year A

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Plead Your Case Before the Mountains: Micah 6:1-8

Micah 6:1-8

1   Hear what the LORD says:
          Rise, plead your case before the mountains,
          and let the hills hear your voice.
2   Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD,
          and you enduring foundations of the earth;
     for the LORD has a controversy with his people,
          and he will contend with Israel.

3   “O my people, what have I done to you?
          In what have I wearied you? Answer me!
4   For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
          and redeemed you from the house of slavery;
     and I sent before you Moses,
          Aaron, and Miriam.
5   O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,
          what Balaam son of Beor answered him,
     and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
          that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.”

6  “With what shall I come before the LORD,
          and bow myself before God on high?
     Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
          with calves a year old?
7   Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
          with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
     Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
          the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8   He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
          and what does the LORD require of you
     but to do justice, and to love kindness,
          and to walk humbly with your God?

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying close attention to the deep breath.
  • What need to please God do carry with you today that needs to be set aside as you sit with God?
  • Name this and set it aside. If there is more than one, repeat this exercise.
  • What justice are you doing?
  • What kindness are you loving?
  • What humble path are you walking with God?
  • Is there an invitation to something new today?
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, February 2, 2020, the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

Come and See – John 1:29-42

John 1:29-42

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying close attention to the deep breath.
  • Jesus notices you are following him.
  • What are you looking for?
  • Make these desires known to Jesus.
  • Hear Jesus invite you, “Come and see.”
  • You follow Jesus to the place he is staying.
  • What is the invitation Jesus, the Anointed One, has for you?
  • Are there others with you?
  • Is there an invitation for all of you?
  • How do you desire to respond to the invitation(s)?
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, January 19, 2020, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Isaiah 49:1-7
Psalm 40:1-11
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2020 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction training, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.