October 20, 2014

Preparing the Next Generation

By Gary Barckert |
Article from The Upper Room Disciplines 2014, reading for October 20.
Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12.

Mountain ClimbersCome to the top of Mount Nebo with me. Even on a hazy day, the view 4,030 feet above the Dead Sea impresses. I stand there on a 100° day looking out over Jericho and the Dead Sea contemplating the deep soul tremor that Moses might have experienced. He knows his leadership is transitional between God’s promise to Abraham and future generations. His unique task of leading two generations from Egyptian slavery comes to a close, and Joshua’s task of leading the current generation in conquest begins. … read

October 16, 2014

Lectio Divina: A New Way to Listen to Scripture

By Mary Lou Redding |

Lectio Divina ChartLectio divina is an ancient way of listening for God’s guidance through scripture. It is a Latin phrase that means “sacred reading” or “holy reading.”

Lectio divina has the following steps, each concluded with a period of silence for individual reflection:

  • hearing the scripture read aloud (several times)
  • reflecting on a word or phrase from the passage
  • connecting the word or phrase to individual situations
  • listening for an invitation from God in the passage
  • praying for God’s help to respond to the invitation

Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is “living and active”; the living message of God has something new to say to us every day. No matter how familiar a passage may be, if we approach with a listening heart, God can use it to speak a new word of guidance, comfort, and challenge to us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together that believers approach scripture “on the strength of the promise that it has something utterly personal to say to use for this day and for our Christian life.“1 Participating in lectio divina will help us learn how to listen for God’s personal word to us whenever we read the Bible.

Lectio divina offers a way to read scripture in a meditative way. It can be done alone or with a group. If you are doing lectio divina for the first time, remember that you will be hearing the passage (either as you read it aloud or a leader reads it aloud slowly). Because our education trains us to analyze and dissect, when we hear a Bible passage being read, it is often difficult just to listen to the actual words.

In lectio divina the leader asks group members to listen as a passage is read. Typically the leader introduces the scripture reading by saying something like,  “Listen for a word or phrase that stops you, that gets your attention, that stands out for you.” Then the leader invites group members to repeat “their” word or phrase.

Lectio divina allows the text to shape to us. The goal of lectio divina is not mastering the text but permitting the text to master us, to form us. We read the Bible not to get to the end of it (as we do a novel or a textbook) but to get to what is, for us, the heart of it for this day, in our situation.

Read Romans 8:14-17 and reflect.

UR_1066_The Lord's PrayerThis post is an excerpt and paraphrase from page 115-116 of The Lord’s Prayer: Jesus Teaches Us How to Pray by Mary Lou Redding.  Copyright © 2011 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books.

Redding_Mary_LouMary Lou Redding, now retired, served for many years as editorial director of The Upper Room daily devotional guide. A Florida native, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She holds a BA in English Literature from Oral Roberts University and an MA in Rhetoric and Writing from the University of Tulsa. Mary Lou is a member of Brentwood United Methodist Church.


*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community, trans. John W. Doberstein (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978), 82.

October 13, 2014

Public Faith

By Heidi Haverkamp |
Article from the book The Upper Room Disciplines 2014 for Monday, October 13, 2014.

People Icon

Read Exodus 33:12-16

Matters have been precarious for the Israelites. There was that incident with the golden calf, among other things. Now God has decided to take a break from accompanying them and to send an angel along instead.

Moses doesn’t like this plan. He wants God to come with them. He also desires an identity for the Israelites as a community sent in God’s name: to make him and them into a “we”—a way to be distinct as people. Moses knows his relationship with God is wrapped up with that of Moses’ people.

For most of my life, I practiced a private faith. I prayed mostly for myself or for close friends and family. But in college a friend pointed out to me that in scripture God speaks to people as a group as much as God does to individuals. Jesus too speaks, not only to individuals but to crowds and the disciples as a group. Paul’s letters are, all but one, addressed to communities. As Americans, we tend to imagine that our relationship with God is individual and personal and hasn’t much to do with our neighbors, coworkers, or wider communities.

I have loved being part of the churches, schools, and neighborhoods where I found myself, but I had never thought to talk to God as a member of those communities, in the first-person plural, as “we.” My life as a Christian had played out thus far entirely in the first-person singular: “I.”

But we don’t live in isolation; our lives intertwine with the lives of those around us. What could it mean to offer prayer as “we”—as a member of the communities that are part of our lives? What could it mean to understand our identity and our relationship with God as being intertwined with that of our brothers and sisters?

God of all people, you did not create us to be alone. Help us to see how you have intertwined our lives and our salvation with those of our neighbors. Amen.


The Upper Room Disciplines is a best-selling book of daily devotions published annually by Upper Room Books. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages from the lectionary for that period. On Mondays the first reading for the week will be posted. We’d love to hear what you think about the week’s readings and prayers. Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following this post.


Heidi HaverkampHeidi Haverkamp has been the priest and vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois, since 2007. She grew up in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, and now enjoys the wide-open spaces of the western suburbs. She blogs at www.vicarofbolingbrook.net.

October 6, 2014

Finding Time to Praise God

By Raquel Mull |
The Upper Room Disciplines is a best-selling book of daily devotions published annually by Upper Room Books. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages from the lectionary for that period. On Mondays the first reading for the week will be posted. We’d love to hear what you think about the week’s readings and prayers. Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following this post.


Read Psalm 106:1-6

What a wonderful way to begin a new week, with praise to the Creator! I am Navajo and live on the reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. From my bedroom window and the window of my sewing studio, I can see the huge volcanic remnant rising from the desert floor with its grandeur and stark massiveness. In the morning, the rising sunlight reveals crevices and fault lines. Praise comes easily when viewing nature’s splendor and beauty. I find it more difficult to praise if the kids don’t have their backpacks ready for school or have nothing to pack for lunches or we’re running late and the gas tank is registering empty.

In my culture, the traditional believers rise to meet the morning sun as it lightens the eastern sky and to offer thanks for a new day. We customarily give thanks for our family, what we have, and where we are. The sun serves to remind us of when to stop and pray: daybreak, noon, sunset, and night.

Monday is a new beginning for the week after several days of refreshment and relaxation for many of us. What is your attitude as you begin this week? Is it one of hopeful expectation as you prepare to see what God is doing around you?

The psalmist offers some reminders of how we can begin our new week, as well as the rewards of deliberate living. “Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord, or declare all his praise?” Finding time to praise God is a challenge in the face of our busy schedules, especially if we think we are pulling more than our share on the job or in a relationship.

Perhaps we can learn from the elders—let the sun remind us to stop and utter praise to the One who created us and this universe.

Creator of the universe, help us to stop for a few seconds every day to praise you for your steadfast love and your goodness. Amen.

Raquel Mull was born for Tobacco People and born to the Salt Clan of the Diné Nation (Navajo). She is director of Four Corners Native American Ministry of the New Mexico Conference of The United Methodist Church. Rachel has oversight of 15 Navajo churches on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah; a daycare; a thrift center; and more than 20 mission teams that come to work on the reservation.
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