God joins each of us into a spiritual house, for the sake of welcome and healing in the name of Christ. More than a place, a spiritual house is a community of practice, a people who act out the way of God’s peace and love in the world. The deeper rhythm and movement of being a spiritual house is not so much asserting what we have, but a giving way, an opening up that makes space for the work of the Spirit of God in our lives.
During Lent we will make room in our lives for God’s love in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disciplines of Lent—prayer, fasting, and acts of love—are intentional ways we turn to God, simplify our life, and reach out to the neighbor. The scripture readings of Lent open soul space for God, making us ready for resurrection life.
Wednesday Worship 12:15 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
On Wednesdays we will engage in a simple service of the Word featuring the demonstration of a weekly prayer practice you can repeat at home. Services are on Feb. 28 and March 7, 14, & 21.
For a complete list of our worship times visit our Worship page.
Practical Suggestions for Making Room
You are invited to make a physical space for God by creating a prayer space in your home during Lent. Each week during Lent, we will add an element to this space, and describe a prayer practice to go along. Since we are seeking to make room by simplifying, you probably already have these elements at home. We will show simple ways to repurpose what you already have for this prayer space. As needed, we will also provide supplies in the Welcome Area.
This page will describe each of the elements, its scriptural background, and provide instruction in a prayer practice associated with the element. By the end of Lent, you will have created a space for prayer that you can continue to use.
God’s peace be with you.
- Participate in the Small Group Discussion based on the book: “Six Weeks to a Simpler Life.” The book and discussion offer a second approach to making room for God. Sign up for a group in the Welcome Area.
- What clutters and distracts your attention? Simplify your home by filling a bag of things you no longer need and donating them to Goodwill or another agency. One idea is to gather 40 bags over the 40 days of Lent. Don’t do it all at once; start small. Each day go through a drawer, a closet or a shelf. To find out more, try this web site: www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days/
Overview of Making Room for God
- Ash Wednesday--Make Room for God--Prayer mat and Bible
- Week 1: Make Room for God through Repentance--Candle
- Week 2: Make Room for the Way of the Cross--Cross
- Week 3: Make Room for God with a Spiritual House Cleaning Picture of Family or Important People
- Week 4: Make Room for the Life of God--Prayer Beads
- Week 5: Make Room for God’s Transforming Work--Stone
February 11 - 17
Making Room for God
Item: Prayer Mat and Bible
Decide where your prayer space is going to be. Choose a place that can remain set up through the weeks of Lent and beyond. Consider a place that can be special and set-aside, a place that is not cluttered or distracting. It can be an area on the table where you eat. It can be coffee table or TV tray or an upholstered chair in your bedroom with a small table in front of it or beside it.
The first item that helps set the space is a prayer mat. This can be a place mat, or a piece of cloth about that size. A scarf also works well for this purpose. This piece of fabric helps define and establish this space as “holy space.” The purpose is to dedicate a space specifically for the purpose of making room for God.
The second thing is to place a Bible on that prayer space. The Bible is your most important resource for prayer. Verses in the Bible provide the content for prayer and the promises of God that meet us in prayer. If you would like help choosing a Bible, please check out the pamphlet “Choosing a Bible” at the Welcome Desk. We use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) at First Lutheran Church.
God called to him out of the burning bush, "Moses, Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." Then God said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:4-5
In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
But Jesus answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4
This is a good time to ask God’s blessing upon this space and to invite God to already be preparing your heart as you seek to make a special place in your home and heart for God. You might pray a blessing something like this:
God bless this prayer space;
may it be filled with holy love.
Let the warmth and light of Your presence
warmly welcome my hungry soul.
Create a space of abundance here,
and bless this place with peace.
May this be a shelter of safety and holy inspiration.
Let this be a quiet space where refreshment
restores my body and soul.
Bless this space with new understandings of who you are
…and who I am; and the assurance of being loved by You
so that I can share myself generously with others.
Two Ways to Use the Bible in Prayer this Lent
#1: Bookmark the Daily Texts from Mt. Carmel Ministries. Each day read the verses and the prayer as part of your prayer time.
#2: Use the daily readings from the Lent Study: Six Weeks to a Simpler Lifestyle.
February 18 - 24
Make Room for God through Repentance
Place a candle in your prayer space. Any candle will do, tall or short, wide or narrow. A tea light or votive works. Be sure it is in a stable candle holder or base. You may also want to consider a battery-candle, which is quite safe. Place the candle on your mat. Use a plate to catch drippings, if necessary.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined. Isaiah 9:2
Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." John 8:12
One ancient prayer practice is called “Centering Prayer,” where we quiet our heart and mind and rest in God alone. It is more of a listening type of prayer, or a prayer that simply pays attention. Begin by lighting the candle, and then sit quietly gazing at the light. Sit comfortably in a position that allows you to stay alert and attentive.
Choose a prayer word/phase as a symbol of your desire to let Jesus’ action and presence form you. The word could reflect a deep desire of your heart (e.g., love, grace, peace), or the word might be a name or title of God (e.g., Jesus, great Shepherd, Counselor, Healer of my soul, Defender). Some use a phrase, like “Lord have mercy,” or “Jesus, my savior.”
Become still and offer yourself and your love to God. Let your word or phrase draw you into the presence of Christ. When you become distracted (and you will), gently return to your prayer word and to your awareness of God’s holy presence by repeating your word. Simply be with Jesus. Offer yourself to him. Rest in God’s loving presence.
Take several minutes to come out of prayer. Don’t hurry. Breathe in the presence of Christ. Offer yourself to God for the tasks awaiting you (e.g., “I am yours,” or “Remain with me.”).
February 25 - March 3
Make Room for the Way of Jesus
Place a cross on your prayer mat. It can be a cross that hangs on a wall or a cross that fits in the palm of your hand. A variety of crosses will be available in the welcome area if you don’t already have one.
We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3
It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Praying with a cross moves us into a spirit of gratitude for what Jesus did for us and begins to conform our lives to Christ. The cross and helps us to focus by giving us something to hold onto, and the weight and texture of the cross adds a tactile dimension to prayer by combining touch with our quiet meditation.
Begin by taking a few moments to become calm. Say a prayer of gratitude for all that has been, all that is, and all that will be in your life. As you gently cradle the cross in your palm or lap (if it is a large cross), allow yourself to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to live with a grateful heart.
Thanksgiving is possible not because everything goes perfectly but because God is present. As you pray with your cross, you might call to mind a difficult situation you are going through right now. Where is there evidence of God’s presence in this hardship? Is there anything you can be thankful for? If you cannot find God in this hardship, spend time with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Read Matthew 26:36-44. What does Jesus want to tell you?
Think about what happened to Jesus on the cross and the depth of love God has show in the cross of Christ. During this week, take some time to read the story of the cross, Mark 14-15.
Close your time of prayer by reverencing the cross. Touch the cross to your forehead, or nod forward as you place the cross back on your prayer mat as an acknowledgement of God’s great gift to us through the Way of the Cross.
March 4 - 10
Make Room for God with a Spiritual Housecleaning
Place a family picture or a picture of people who are significant to you in your prayer space. They can be in a frame or just the picture itself. You will be using this picture as a prayer prompt.
And Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'?” Mark 11:15-17
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
A powerful way to pray for your family or friends is to keep a picture of them in your prayer space to help you visualize the object of your prayer.
Begin by stilling your mind and your body and gazing at the person or people in your photograph. Let your gaze be long and loving.
Then read a short passage of Scripture. A Psalm or a Gospel story works well for this, but any passage you are spending time with will be fine. Here are some suggestions about choosing.
- Use the scripture that was read on Sunday or Wednesday
- Use the scripture that goes with a daily devotion you read.
After reading, lay your Bible down and think about what the passage or story was about. Was it talking about God’s strength in times of trouble? Pray for strength in whatever way those in the picture need it today. Was the passage about honesty? Pray that they will be honest in all their encounters today. Let the Scripture guide your prayer. Over time, you may want to gather pictures of other people to pray for.
There is a second action that goes with this week suggested by the Gospel story of Jesus cleansing the temple. What are the things or activities that needlessly clutter your life and draw your attention away from what is more important? A follow-up suggestion especially for this week is to fill a bag each day with things that clutter your life and donate them where they can be of use. Work through a closet, a drawer, or box. To find out more, try this web site: www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days/
The connection between the picture prayer and the bags of clutter is that we are clearing our lives of things that distract us so that we might pay more attention to prayer and to God’s concern for others.
March 11 - 17
Making Room for the Life of God
Item: Prayer Beads
If you have prayer beads, place them in your prayer space. If you don’t, there are many ways to create your own set of beads. Pinterest has lots of ideas. A simple set of prayer beads is made using six different-colored beads and a cross. Beads and instructions for making your own set will be available in the welcome area if you don’t already have some.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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. But 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.
Prayer beads are a physical reminder to pray. You can use memorized prayers such as The Lord’s Prayer or the Jesus Prayer (Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me), offer prayers of the heart that you use regularly, or use the beads to create a prayer structure that broadens your prayer by reminding you to thank God, pray for others, confess, listen and more.
Begin your prayer time by settling yourself as you breathe slowly in and out for at least five breaths. Allow each exhalation to complete itself naturally before inhaling. With each breath, imagine God’s love and peace flowing in and out of you.
If you choose to make your own set using the beads available in the welcome area, following is an order of prayers you might use. Feel free to designate your own prayers or prayer method for your beads. There are as many ways to pray with beads as there are beads and people in the world. The beads are simply holy reminders to pray.
- Touch the white bead and offer prayers of gratitude for your many blessings.Spend a few moments in silence at the end of each prayer before moving on.
- Touch the orange bead and pray for others (friends, family, the world).
- Touch the red bead and offer prayers of confession and forgiveness.
- Touch the green bead and talk to God about any personal concerns and requests for guidance.
- Touch the blue bead and invite the Holy Spirit to work within you and your life.
- Hold the purple bead and remain silent, listening for God.
When your time in prayer comes to a close, express your gratitude to God that you can bring all your concerns to God.
Making Room for God’s Transforming Work
Item: Prayer Stone
Place a smooth stone with a prayer prompt word written on the stone in your prayer space. Often the word used is one of the fruit of the Spirit or another word such as freedom, breathe, rejoice, strength, forgiveness, or abundance—choose a word that represents what you most need in your life right now. Stones and special pens will be made available in the welcome area to create your own stone. You may already have something, a stone or a saying, that you can place in your prayer space if you prefer. Check out possible suggestions for words in the verses below. You can have more than one stone with other words.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gal. 5:22
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
Come to Jesus, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4
A prayer stone can be a solid, tangible reminder to pray for the deepest, truest longing of your heart. You can create a prayer phrase by combining the word on your stone and your favorite name for God. Your prayer might be “Freedom, in Christ” “Rejoice, in God my Savior”, or “Peace, through Love.”
Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. Make sure your body weight is distributed in such a way that you feel stable. Take about five deep, slow breaths and allow the tension of the day to flow out with each exhalation. After five deliberate breaths, turn your attention away from counting and allow your breath to find its natural pace.
As you hold the prayer stone in your hand, begin to say—either aloud or silently—your phrase. You may inhale on the name for God and exhale on the desire or vice versa. Spend several minutes breathing this prayer. Make it your own. Allow God to inhabit this prayer.
After several minutes of repeating your prayer, sink into silence. Allow the love of God to fill you and surround you.
If you’d like a reminder to pray throughout the day, take your stone with you in your pocket so that each time your hand touches it, you are prompted to pray to God for the desire of your heart.
Join us for Holy Week Worship
Palm Sunday, March 24-25
5:00 p.m. Saturday; 8, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Maundy Thursday, March 29
12 Noon & 6:30 p.m.
Good Friday, March 30
5:30 & 8:00 p.m.
Holy Saturday, March 31
Easter Sunday, April 1
8, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.