Lent: One Does Not Live By Bread Alone – Matthew 4:1-11

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness (Jésus tenté dans le désert), 1886-1894.

Matthew 4:1-11

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.3The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”4But he answered, “It is written,
     ‘One does not live by bread alone,
          but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
     ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
          and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
     so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Imagine that you in the desert with Jesus.
  • What temptation arises for you?
  • How do you react to the temptation?
  • Talk to Jesus about this temptation.
  • How is the temptation turning you away from God?
  • What do you need from God to remain with God as you face the temptation?
  • How do you desire to respond to the temptation?
  • With Jesus, see yourself responding to the temptation.
  • 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, March 1, 2020, the First Sunday in Lent (Year A)

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

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.

Lent: Receive the Abundance of Grace – Romans 5:12-19

http://www.timmooneystudio.com Used with permission

Romans 5:12-19

12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned — 13sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.17If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

18Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Empty your mind of things keeping you from God.
  • Receive the abundance of grace.
  • Feel the abundance of grace.
  • It is a gift of freedom.
  • Don’t over think it.
  • Lean into the freedom of grace.
  • What do you feel when you are showered with the abundance of grace?
  • Savor the feeling of being in abundant grace.
  • Let the words come.
  • What do you know?
  • 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, March 1, 2020, the First Sunday in Lent (Year A)

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

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.

Lent: Is This My Desire or God’s Desire for Me? – Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

2:15The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

3:1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Bring your attention to the Breath.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence paying attention to the Breath.
  • What is your deepest desire?
  • Is this also God’s desire for you?
  • How do you know this?
  • Listen to the fullness of your senses.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Try it on.  Just as you would put on a favorite sweater, try it on and sit with it for while.
  • Is this authentically you?
  • Is this authentically God?
  • Is this a serpent trying to get your attention?
  • Ask trusted advisors if this desire fits you.
  • Is this desire filled with the fruit of the Spirit for  you?
  • Is this desire filled with the fruit of the Spirit for the world?
  • Then maybe it is God’s desire for you.
  • How does God desire for you to respond to this desire?
  • 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, March 1, 2020, the First Sunday in Lent (Year A)

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
Matthew 4:1-11

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.

Mark 6:14-29 – The king was deeply grieved.

Mark 6:14-29

14King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

17For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22 When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

  • 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.
  • As you pay attention to your breath, remember a time you had someone beheaded against your gut feeling.  (Use your imagination, please!  But you know what I mean!!  At someone’s expense, you have used them to better your position.)
  • Remember how it felt when you made the decision.
  • Did this feeling lighten over time or get heavier?
  • How did others chime in regarding your decision?
  • Did these words lighten the decision or make it heavier for you?
  • As you recall, who laid the body in the tomb? (metaphorically, of course!)
  • Did you take part in this?  Or did you stay away?
  • What has transpired since then?
  • As the feelings come back to you, have you found reconciliation?
  • If yes, remember the feeling of reconciliation and give thanks to God.
  • If no, take time to bring this burden to the Lord.
  • There is nothing that will keep you from the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  As you present your burden, feel the love and forgiveness that Jesus Christ has to offer you.  Give thanks to God.  Breathe.  Allow the breath of God to cover every inch of you.  Feel the forgiveness and love cover every inch of 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, July 15, 2012, the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Psalm 24
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

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. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD.