Save us from our selfish selves, a prayer of confession (Matthew 11)

save me from myself

Based on Matthew 11:20-24

Mighty One,
We call to you for deeds of power
You answer
We see them moment by moment, day by day
The steadfast outpouring of your grace and saving love

But do we thank you, Jesus?
Do we bow before you in awe?
Do we lift our songs in adoration?
Do we turn from our selfishness and sin to testify?

No.
We see but we do not repent
We see but we do not praise
We see but we do not follow

Lord have mercy
We are hard-hearted
Entitled
Apathetic

Lord have mercy
Work your most gracious miracle in us
Save us from our selfish selves
Lord have mercy

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Save us from our selfish selves, a prayer of confession © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer- Show Me My Soul (Matthew 6.1-6)

roots secret rest soul

Based on Matthew 6:1-6

Lord, show me my soul.

Am I truly seeking you and your ways?
Am I watching for you
or watching who is watching me?
Am I awake
Alert for the chance to bless
or looking for a way to be recognized?
Do I hunger and thirst for you
or applause?

Take me to the secret place,
the place only you can see
See my soul
See me
Show me my me
Show me my true motivation
Now show me true life

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Show Me My Soul © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Quotes: Fasting and Prayer

Fasting Prayer graphic

Matthew 4:1-4 (NIV)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. Anger, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting. At first we will rationalize that our anger is due to our hunger; then we will realize that we are angry because the spirit of anger is within us. We can rejoice in this knowledge because we know that healing is available through the power of Christ.
-Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Fasting calls us to the remembrance that Christ alone is our “food and drink,” and as we make him our Source, we are liberated from the addiction to secondary things.
– Steve Harper, Desert Wisdom: Fasting (1)

Many of the traditions of spiritual life that have developed within Christianity are intended to help that dying to self that Christ describes as poverty of spirit. Fasting is one of these traditions– a small dying to certain foods and drinks. The chief value of fasting is not dietary but is linked to intensified battle against the tyranny of one’s never satisfied appetites and desires. Fasting is always linked with increased prayer and almsgiving: the deepening of communion with God and with neighbors in need.
– Jim Forest, The Ladder of the Beatitudes

Extended quote from Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go by Richard Rohr
There are three primary things that we have to let go of, in my opinion. First is the compulsion to be successful. Second is the compulsion to be right—even, and especially, to be theologically right. (That’s merely an ego trip, and because of this need, churches have split in half, with both parties prisoners of their own egos.) Finally there is the compulsion to be powerful, to have everything under control.

I’m convinced these are the three demons Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Until we each look these three demons in their eyes, we should presume that they are still in charge in every life. The demons have to be called by name, clearly, concretely, and practically, spelling out just how imperious, controlling, and self-righteous we all are. This is the first lesson in the spirituality of subtraction.

John 4:13-14 NRSV
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

John 6:35 NRSV
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Fasting kind of “hangs the soul out to dry,” and in doing so we find that we can live (indeed, live better) when we are not attached to things which are subject to loss, decay, and death. – Steve Harper, Desert Wisdom: Fasting (2)

Prayer, fasting, watching may be good in themselves; yet it is not in these practices alone that the goal of our Christian life is found, though they are necessary means for its attainment. The true goal consists in our acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.
-Seraphim of Sarov

Matthew 6:16-18 NRSV
Jesus said, “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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so 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.

The value of fasting was (and still is) not the amount of mortification we practice, but rather the concentration of our attention upon God.  The value of fasting is not how much we suffer, but rather how much we allow the time we would have spent eating to become time we spend “feasting” on God. – Steve Harper, Desert Wisdom: Fasting (4)

Click the link for an excellent article on the concept of a “perpetual fast” from “inferior appetites,” by Bill Guerrant entitled Rethinking Your Lenten Fast

Click the link for questions and reflections to consider as you experience your fast, Fasting by Steve Garnaas Holmes

#LukeActs2014: Woe, Woe, Whoa (Luke 11:37-54)

repentance4Read Luke 11:37-53 NRSV

When Jesus wondered out loud if he would find faith on the earth when he returned (Luke 18:8), I thought he meant that evil would increase to such an extent that it would extinguish faith. And that may well be. But lately, I have added another thought to my mind about his words. I wonder if he might have meant that faith would be so misrepresented by those of us who allege to have it, people would not touch it with a ten-foot pole. But whatever Jesus meant, we can never abide the notion that faith may diminish as time goes by. And to whatever extent we contribute to this through our contaminated witness, all we can say is, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!”
– Steve Harper, Contaminated Witness

A wise person once advised me, when you come across scriptures where Jesus is instructing or correcting the Scribes and the Pharisees, stop, listen, and allow the Holy Spirit to examine your own heart. We are often more like them than we want to admit. They were the “churched people” of their day. They too took their faith seriously, worshiped deeply, prayed and read the scriptures searching for God, answered a call and studied hard to prepare themselves for leading God’s people, bore the responsibility and sacrifice of leadership.

Reflection and meditation on these texts keep us humble and soft in God’s hands. We need God’s grace and leading to avoid falling into the same enslaving practices.

In this light, let us reflect on Jesus’ warnings from Luke 11, often referred to as “the woes.”

Opening Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Verse 42: Woe to you … for you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God
God reveal in me where have I focused on rules and details above you. Free me from the need to control myself, others, and access to your love and grace.

Verse 43: Woe to you … for you love to have the seat of honor … and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces
God reveal where my pride, ego and need for attention have become false idols. Forgive me and heal me of the judgmental attitudes which separate me from you and from others.

Verse 44: Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it
God reveal every hidden thing I think and do which hurts others. Reveal my hypocrisy. Reveal where my attitudes and actions bringing contamination rather than community. Lord, have mercy upon me and raise me to new life in you.

Verse 46: Woe also to you … for you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.
God reveal how my actions and expectations are burdening others unnecessarily. Forgive me for placing myself above others and beyond accountability. Humble me and grow in me a love and solidarity with all people.

Verse 47: Woe to you! For you … are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors
God how am I perpetuating the prejudices and injustices of previous generations? Help me to join you in breaking this cycle.

Verse 52: Woe to you… for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
God how am I making you and your ways confusing? Grant me a hunger for your truth and help my words to match my actions so others find you easily.

Closing Prayer: Psalm 51:10-13 NRSV
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

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Woe, Woe, Whoa © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are very welcome to use this in a worship or group setting with proper attribution.

Reading for the week of March 16: Luke 11
Click Here for more information on the #LukeActs2014 Reading Plan

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