St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church

Time for Prayer
Every time you look at a clock, watch, or any other means of keeping time, say a prayer either of thanks or praise or about something that is weighing on your heart. The Main Idea is that it is always time to be in prayer....

Fasting and Feasting
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling within them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life. 
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God. 
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust in God’s care.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities or truth that uplift.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
-William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921-1994)

Mediate on one Sin and its accompanying Bible verse for each of the 40 days of Lent:

ANGER - James 3:5-6
CONTROL IDOL - Proverbs 3:5-6
POWER IDOL - Genesis 3:1-24
COMFORT IDOL - Romans 1:21-25
APPROVAL IDOL - Matthew 10:32-33
TEASING - Proverbs 18:6
HITTING/TANTRUMS - Proverbs 16:32
BRAGGING - Proverbs 27:1-2
CHEATING - Amos 8:4-7
COMPLAINING - Philippians 2:14-16
CONFORMITY - 2 Kings 17:15
CRITICISM - Zechariah 7:9
BEING DRUNK/DRUGS - Proverbs 23:29-35
DOING EVIL - Romans 12:21
FAKING IT (HYPOCRISY) - Matthew 7:1-5
UNFORGIVING - Colossians 3:13
WORRYING - Matthew 6:25-34
GOSSIP - Proverbs 11:13
GREED - Luke 12:15
HATRED - Leviticus 19:17
DISHONOR - Galatians 5:14
DISOBEDIENCE - Ephesians 6:1
JEALOUSY - Proverbs 14:30
JUDGING OTHERS - Matthew 7:1-5
NAME CALLING - Proverbs 4:24
DISRESPECT - 1 Peter 5:5
LAZINESS - Proverbs 28:19
LYING - Proverbs 12:22
PREJUDICE - Galatians 3:28
PRIDE - James 4:6
IMPURITY - 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
REVENGE - Romans 12:17-21
STEALING - Ephesians 4:28
UNREPENTANT - 1 John 1:8
WORLDLINESS - James 4:3-4
GLUTTONY - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
LACK OF FAITH - Romans 14:23
NOT RESTING - Exodus 20:8-11
MURDER/ABORTION - Genesis 9:5-6

Two baskets of prayers
There is a story about how God sent two angels to earth to listen to the prayers of humanity. One angel was asked to collect all the prayers in which people asked God for something. The other angel was asked to collect all the prayers of thanksgiving.

The two angels descended on earth and began their task. They agreed to meet in a month with their findings. The angel collecting prayers asking God for something soon became extremely busy. There were prayers that people had to help them earn more money, or get a windfall, or win a lottery. There were prayers for God to cure people of illnesses. There were many prayers for improved health of one’s children, spouse, parents, siblings, relatives, and friends. The angel filled the basket with prayers that people had for worldly objects such as a bigger house, new car, latest computer, jewelry, expensive clothing and new toys for their children. Some people prayed to God for a husband or wife, for children or for better relationships.

In the meantime, the other angel traveled far and wide looking to fill the basket with prayers of thankfulness. One day passed, then two days and then the third, but no prayers of gratitude were heard. The angel visited the young and elderly, men and women, people of all countries, all religions and all classes. Still, not a prayer of thankfulness was heard. All that this angel heard were prayers asking for things. Wondering whether s/he was missing something, this angel contacted the other angel to ask whether his/her basket of prayers was getting filled.

“Oh yes! I have not only filled one basket, but many more,” said the angel. “But I too have not heard any prayers of thankfulness,” s/he added.

For the rest of the month, the two angels fulfilled their mission and were ready to return to God. The angel collecting prayers of request was laden with many baskets. The angel collecting prayers of thankfulness hardly had any in the basket. There were a few prayers of thankfulness, but a tiny amount compared to the prayers of requests.

When God was presented with these findings, he sighed. “This is nothing new,” said God. “You now have a taste of what it is like being God. People are always praying for something from Me, which is all right because at least they are thinking of Me. But few ever thank Me.”

This story illustrates our human condition. In life, many people request others to do something for them, but how many people take an equal amount of time to thank them Similarly, we pray to God for so many things that we want, but how many take the time to thank God The post office receives many letters from children addressed to Santa Claus before Christmas. Yet, after Christmas, children typically do not send a letter to Santa thanking him for what the gifts.

The next time the two angels are sent by God to come to earth, let us not disappoint the one collecting prayers of thanks. Let us be among those who can thank God for the many gifts we have received-for our human birth, for our health, for our food, clothing and shelter, and for our families. Let us also thank God for our education and for our jobs. However, let us not thank God merely with words but with our deeds. We can thank God by leading ethical lives of non-violence, truthfulness, purity, humility and selfless service.

Lenten Devotions and Themes