1 Corinthians 2:6-16 NRSV September 7-13

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 NRSV September 7-13

1 Corinthians 2:6-16  NRSV September 7-13

Study guide by Pastor Rob, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church

Our live Praying the Scriptures Zoom meetings have concluded. We hope you will continue to Pray the Scriptures on your own and with friends as we will publish a new study guide on this webpage every Monday.

Preparing to Pray

The goal of the spiritual life is to open the center of our being to Christ, so that all facets of our lives may come together in Jesus. Praying the Scriptures is one means of working with God toward this goal as we pray a particular text or through various themes of scripture.

Find a time when you are able to spend extended time in prayer. This discipline is not intended to be rushed. You want to find the time to enter a time of conversation with the Lord. Choose a place where you can pray and not be interrupted. You might set the time and place for prayer by lighting a candle or holding a cross or other object in your hand. You could pull up another chair as an invitation to welcome Jesus, and even place a sign “I Am” at the table or in the seat as a symbol of God’s presence. You may find it helpful to center you mind and heart by breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly inhale and exhale, several times. Then, open in prayer, using the prayer below or another of your choosing. You may wish to repeat the prayer several times until you experience your spirit opening to the Lord’s Spirit. Return to this centering or to the prayer if you become distracted.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, I humble myself in your presence. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; [your] greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3). Speak, Lord, for I, your servant, am listening. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

After praying the short prayer, you may continue by spending one, two or more minutes sitting with Jesus. When two friends come together, they don’t usually jump into a deep conversation. Let the first moments that you sit with Jesus be gentle and slow and warm as you are guided into a deeper conversation with Jesus. You realize Jesus is attentive to you. His love calls out to your heart. His love is deeply personal, and he is not only eager to sit with you now, but he wants to have a deep conversation with you as you listen to one another and share deeply. Repeat any or all of the steps above until you know you are ready to hear the Lord.

Reading The Text

Read the passage slowly and deliberating, so as not to miss a drop of what Jesus has for you. Plan to read the text in different ways to catch all that Jesus has for you today. Read the text as differing speeds. Read it aloud if you are able. Read it straight-through. Then, read the text pausing at words that catch your attention or at the end of phrases and verses. Do not rush, because Jesus has something important to say to you, and you have something important to say to Jesus!

1 Corinthians 2:6-16 NRSV

6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Re-read the passage at least once more as you continue to hear what your heart is saying to Jesus and Jesus is saying to you!

Discussion and Reflection

Our reading this week continues from the scripture used for last week’s Praying the Scriptures. Last week, Pastor Deborah wrote, “Paul was a great thinker. He marveled how Jesus refused to exploit his status as the Son of God for his own benefit. Instead, in obedience to God’s plan, Jesus emptied himself, and humbly chose to give his life to die a cruel innocent death on the cross. The outcome of Jesus’ self-giving love and absolute weakness and vulnerability were the power of God and the wisdom of God, ushering in God’s new creation of life and forgiveness and healing.”

The focus of this week’s reading is the wisdom of God that Paul began to unpack in last week’s reading. Last week, we heard Paul compare Godly wisdom to worldly wisdom. Today’s reading continues this theme, but Paul focuses on the necessity of the Holy Spirit in understanding the mind of Christ. Paul wants us and the church to see that if we are seeking wisdom in the world, we will be missing the wisdom of God.

Spend time reflecting on the following questions.

You could work with the questions on different days as you continue to reflect on this reading during the week. Write the questions in a journal and record your thoughts. This writing is invaluable for focus and for future insight into your progress in Praying the Scriptures.

  1. List the characteristics of the world’s wisdom and God’s wisdom that are revealed in the passage.
  2. Compare verse 9 with Isaiah 64:4. Do you see similarities and / or differences?
  3. How do you understand verse 11a?  “For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within?”
  4. How do you understand verse 11b?  “So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.”
  5. What are the gifts of the Spirit from this passage?  From elsewhere in scripture?
  6. What does it mean to have “the mind of Christ” (v16)?

As you end your reflection, pray the prayer below or one of your own, then end by slowly praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer: Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your amazing love. Continue to make your presence known so that I may hear your call and hear it more clearly and then move in faithful steps of your love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Praying the Scriptures, September 1-7, Romans 8:1-11

Praying the Scriptures, September 1-7, Romans 8:1-11

Study guide by Pastor Rob, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church

Our live Praying the Scriptures Zoom meetings have concluded.  We hope you will continue to Pray the Scriptures on your own and with friends as we will  publish a new study guide on this webpage every Monday.

Want more Praying The Scriptures? View our archive of past study guides by clicking here.

Preparing to Pray

The goal of the spiritual life is to open the center of our being to Christ, so that all facets of our lives may come together in Jesus. Praying the Scriptures is one means of working with God toward this goal as we pray a particular text or through various themes of scripture. 

Find a time when you are able to spend extended time in prayer. This discipline is not intended to be rushed. You want to find the time to enter a time of conversation with the Lord. Choose a place where you can pray and not be interrupted. You might set the time and place for prayer by lighting a candle or holding a cross or other object in your hand. You could pull up another chair as an invitation to welcome Jesus, and even place a sign “I Am” at the table or in the seat as a symbol of God’s presence. You may find it helpful to center you mind and heart by breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly inhale and exhale, several times. Then, open in prayer, using the prayer below or another of your choosing. You may wish to repeat the prayer several times until you experience your spirit opening to the Lord’s Spirit. Return to this centering or to the prayer if you become distracted.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, I humble myself in your presence. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; [your] greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3). Speak, Lord, for I, your servant, am listening. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

After praying the short prayer, you may continue by spending one, two or more minutes sitting with Jesus. When two friends come together, they don’t usually jump into a deep conversation. Let the first moments that you sit with Jesus be gentle and slow and warm as you are guided into a deeper conversation with Jesus. You realize Jesus is attentive to you. His love calls out to your heart. His love is deeply personal, and he is not only eager to sit with you now, but he wants to have a deep conversation with you as you listen to one another and share deeply. Repeat any or all of the steps above until you know you are ready to hear the Lord.

Reading The Text

Read the passage slowly and deliberating, so as not to miss a drop of what Jesus has for you. Plan to read the text in different ways to catch all that Jesus has for you today. Read the text as differing speeds. Read it aloud if you are able. Read it straight-through. Then, read the text pausing at words that catch your attention or at the end of phrases and verses. Do not rush, because Jesus has something important to say to you, and you have something important to say to Jesus!

Romans 8:1-11 NRSV

1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.

8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Re-read the passage at least once more as you continue to hear what your heart is saying to Jesus and Jesus is saying to you!

Discussion and Reflection

Our reading this week is from the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans and a larger section of the letter that addresses God’s gracious gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ. In Romans 5, Paul reveals story of the redemption that is available through Jesus “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Paul preaches about comfort and peace that surpasses each and every earthly circumstance. In this week’s passage, Paul tells us about a hope that “does not disappoint us” (5:5). This hope is different than the way most people think of hope.

You could work with the questions on different days as you continue to reflect on this reading during the week. Write the questions in a journal and record your thoughts. This writing is invaluable for focus and for future insight into your progress in Praying the Scriptures.

  1. How would you define “justified” and “faith”, as Paul uses these words in Romans 5:1? What benefits does the act of being justified bring to those with faith?
  2. How many times is “boast” used in the passage? Can a Christian “boast”? Why or why not?
  3. Paul’s hope is not a speculative thing. It is a joyful expectation. Why?
  4. How is Christian hope (Romans 5:2) different from the way most people think of hope?
  5. Why does Paul say that hope does not put us to shame ( 5:5)?
  6. What is the relationship between good character and good hope (Roman 5:4)?
  7. What is the significance of noting that Christ died for us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8)?
  8. What else did you gleam from praying this scripture?

As you end your reflection, pray the prayer below or one of your own, then end by slowly praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer: Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your amazing love. Continue to make your presence known so that I may hear your call and hear it more clearly and then move in faithful steps of your love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

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Praying the Scriptures, September 8-15, John 15-1-11

Study guide by Pastor Forrest, St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church

Our live Praying the Scriptures Zoom meetings have concluded.  We hope you will continue to Pray the Scriptures on your own and with friends as we will  publish a new study guide on this webpage every Monday.

Want more Praying The Scriptures? View our archive of past study guides by clicking here.

Preparing to Pray

The goal of the spiritual life is to open the center of our being to Christ, so that all facets of our lives may come together in Jesus. Praying the Scriptures is one means of working with God toward this goal as we pray a particular text or through various themes of scripture. 

Find a time when you are able to spend extended time in prayer. This discipline is not intended to be rushed. You want to find the time to enter a time of conversation with the Lord. Choose a place where you can pray and not be interrupted. You might set the time and place for prayer by lighting a candle or holding a cross or other object in your hand. You could pull up another chair as an invitation to welcome Jesus, and even place a sign “I Am” at the table or in the seat as a symbol of God’s presence. You may find it helpful to center you mind and heart by breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly inhale and exhale, several times. Then, open in prayer, using the prayer below or another of your choosing. You may wish to repeat the prayer several times until you experience your spirit opening to the Lord’s Spirit. Return to this centering or to the prayer if you become distracted.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, I humble myself in your presence. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; [your] greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3). Speak, Lord, for I, your servant, am listening. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

After praying the short prayer, you may continue by spending one, two or more minutes sitting with Jesus. When two friends come together, they don’t usually jump into a deep conversation. Let the first moments that you sit with Jesus be gentle and slow and warm as you are guided into a deeper conversation with Jesus. You realize Jesus is attentive to you. His love calls out to your heart. His love is deeply personal, and he is not only eager to sit with you now, but he wants to have a deep conversation with you as you listen to one another and share deeply. Repeat any or all of the steps above until you know you are ready to hear the Lord.

Reading The Text

Read the passage slowly and deliberating, so as not to miss a drop of what Jesus has for you. Plan to read the text in different ways to catch all that Jesus has for you today. Read the text as differing speeds. Read it aloud if you are able. Read it straight-through. Then, read the text pausing at words that catch your attention or at the end of phrases and verses. Do not rush, because Jesus has something important to say to you, and you have something important to say to Jesus!

John 15:1-11. New Revised Standard Version

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes[a] to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed[b] by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

We know love for God first loved us (1 John 4:19). To love God is to follow the commandments set out before us. It not only brings us joy in life but glorifies God. We are told we can do all things through God who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and we must remember our passage here. That we must follow Jesus, abiding in his love and commandments in order for us to grow and be nurtured. Take time to reflect on a particular word or phrase that stood out in your mind. Truly focus on this for a few minutes pondering it and praying over it before moving on.

Discussion and Reflection

This passage comes in the middle of Jesus talking to his disciples about the Holy Spirit. The great Comforter and Advocate that will come and guide them while Jesus is gone from this world. Our passage today even though it may not say it aloud is all about the involvement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is not just a comforter but an integral part of the Holy Trinity that gives us power.

Also in talking about the Holy Spirit Jesus says in John 14:22 when in talking with his disciples about his death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit to come, “Very truly I tell you the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and in fact will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father.” For our faith to grow we must be willing to be pruned or disciplined by God. A rebellious heart does not belong to the Lord. Jesus lays out here that we are made clean by him in verse 3, and that by following God’s commands we will grow in love and glorify God.

The hardest part of this passage for us can be the standard which we are held to in our relationship with God. We are called to bear fruit in the Lord by following God’s his commands and following Jesus who laid down his own life in our place to repair our broken relationship with God.

By abiding in Jesus and following his commandments we learn through the Bible that this path leads to joy. Realizing this we know that departing from God’s commandments brings pain and sadness which is the opposite of joy.

Following God’s commandments leads to joy and love, “if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (10). We do not know real love, Christ like love, without knowing his commandments. By studying the scriptures, praying over them, talking about them and then living them out with others, we understand love that is given to us and we are always to give to others.

So where are you feeling the tug of conviction or joy to serve the Lord in a new area in your life? Knowing that you are already made clean through Jesus’s sacrifice and can do all things through Jesus should be an encouraging force for change in our lives. Knowing that it is not all on our own will power, but it is about being filled with the Holy Spirit equips us. We are called to bear fruit in love by following God’s word, Jesus. So today and hereafter be filled with the powerful Holy Spirit that guides you to bear fruit and sustains you in times of God’s pruning.

Read the scripture one more time out loud. Take a moment to reflect on what Jesus is calling us to do.

Further Reflection

How are you abiding in God’s commandments and love?

What are areas God is trying to show you to grow in today? As uncomfortable and even painful that it may be, now can be the very time of pruning or cutting back that the Lord is leading you to that is necessary for your growth.

What emotions does this passage stir up? Whether good, bad, or in between? Enter into prayer to give God control to try and understand. This helps us to go to God in times of fruitfulness and times of barrenness, , then end by slowly praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer: Almighty God I ask you to continue to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Call me into more times of fruit even though it means I must be pruned. Guide me in the barren times to seek you further and open your word to reveal truth to me.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Praying the Scriptures, September 8-15, Luke 17:11-19

Study guide by Pastor Deborah

Our live Praying the Scriptures Zoom meetings have concluded.  We hope you will continue to Pray the Scriptures on your own and with friends as we will  publish a new study guide on this webpage every Monday.

Want more Praying The Scriptures? View our archive of past study guides by clicking here.

Preparing to Pray

The goal of the spiritual life is to open the center of our being to Christ, so that all facets of our lives may come together in Jesus. Praying the Scriptures is one means of working with God toward this goal as we pray a particular text or through various themes of scripture. 

Find a time when you are able to spend extended time in prayer. This discipline is not intended to be rushed. You want to find the time to enter a time of conversation with the Lord. Choose a place where you can pray and not be interrupted. You might set the time and place for prayer by lighting a candle or holding a cross or other object in your hand. You could pull up another chair as an invitation to welcome Jesus, and even place a sign “I Am” at the table or in the seat as a symbol of God’s presence. You may find it helpful to center you mind and heart by breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly inhale and exhale, several times. Then, open in prayer, using the prayer below or another of your choosing. You may wish to repeat the prayer several times until you experience your spirit opening to the Lord’s Spirit. Return to this centering or to the prayer if you become distracted.

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, I humble myself in your presence. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; [your] greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3). Speak, Lord, for I, your servant, am listening. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

After praying the short prayer, you may continue by spending one, two or more minutes sitting with Jesus. When two friends come together, they don’t usually jump into a deep conversation. Let the first moments that you sit with Jesus be gentle and slow and warm as you are guided into a deeper conversation with Jesus. You realize Jesus is attentive to you. His love calls out to your heart. His love is deeply personal, and he is not only eager to sit with you now, but he wants to have a deep conversation with you as you listen to one another and share deeply. Repeat any or all of the steps above until you know you are ready to hear the Lord.

Reading The Text

Read the passage slowly and deliberating, so as not to miss a drop of what Jesus has for you. Plan to read the text in different ways to catch all that Jesus has for you today. Read the text as differing speeds. Read it aloud if you are able. Read it straight-through. Then, read the text pausing at words that catch your attention or at the end of phrases and verses. Do not rush, because Jesus has something important to say to you, and you have something important to say to Jesus!

Luke 17:11-19 New Revised Standard Version

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Discussion and Reflection

In this story Jesus is pointing us toward a deeper understanding of thankfulness and it’s place in our lives of faith. On the way to Jerusalem, near Samaria, Jesus and his disciples encounter ten men with leprosy. This was a highly contagious disease that carried a sentence of total isolation; people were banished from their homes and communities to live alone. These lepers call out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus sees them. He tells them to go show themselves to the priest, so he can pronounce them clean.” As the men walked on, their healing took place before their very eyes. One of them, a Samaritan, stops in his tracks, runs back to Jesus, falls on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanks him. Jesus asks about the other men, where are they? “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he speaks to the Samaritan, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Samaritans were religious outcasts in Jesus’ time. The man’s humility led him to seek Jesus out and thank him. This story reminds us of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

The Samaritan was profoundly thankful, but so were the other nine men. What Jesus did for them meant they all got their lives back. While the Samaritan was thanking Jesus, the other nine were running and embracing all their family members! They were telling everyone in the village what Jesus the Master had done for them. The question for us to consider is, How is it a problem that these nine did not go back and express their gratitude to Jesus? When they didn’t return, Jesus noticed. And he didn’t say, it’s no big deal. He said, where are they? Unexpressed gratitude communicates ingratitude.

“feeling gratitude and expressing it are two different things in this story”

The truth is, all of us think of ourselves as grateful people. If you ask us what we’re thankful for, we can readily tell you. We feel grateful and therefore we think of ourselves as grateful people. But feeling gratitude and expressing it are two different things in this story. Why do we not think to go back and thank the giver? Perhaps because our lives are all about moving forward, not going back. When we get what we want, we move on to get more.

The ten lepers all got more than they asked for. When they cried out, “Jesus, have mercy on us,” they were begging for coins. What did Jesus do? He didn’t give them coins; he healed them.

Our human tendency is to move forward and think of our existence as “getting.” When our existence is about acquiring more and more, unexpressed gratitude can take us into the pitfall of greed. We start thinking we deserve what we get.

A nice meal is served for the whole family. If those at the table eat the food but never express their appreciation, the cook thinks the family has no gratitude. When people put forth their good work on their job and no one says thank you, the workers may begin to hate their job. Their pay check is not enough for job satisfaction. Wherever giving is offered in our lives, the dynamic of unexpressed gratitude has the same effect as rejection. We see this happen in verse 18. Jesus asks about the missing nine lepers, “Where are they?” “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Jesus is looking for the nine men so that he do more for them – heal their souls – but they never return. The Samaritan alone receives Jesus’ gift, “Get up and go on your way, your faith has made you well.” Another translation, “your faith has rescued and preserved you.” Jesus’ healing and the Samaritan’s act of returning put this man into wholeness and right relationship with God and with others. Those nine others – they missed out.

Our hearts are acceptance magnets; we are drawn to those who express appreciation. We can drive people away from us if we fail to express our gratitude.

This story is showing us to focus on the Giver/giver, not the gift. The Samaritan thought only of Jesus when he fell at Jesus’ feet. Take time to express gratitude, both to God and to the people around you. If it is hard for you to say thank you, it may be because you do not like to express dependence. But the truth is none of us are independent. God created us to be dependent. When we form a daily practice of giving thanks to God, a whole new level of faith becomes alive in us.

You could work with the following questions on different days as you continue to reflect on this reading during the week. Write the questions in a journal and record your thoughts. This writing is invaluable for focus and for future insight into your progress in Praying the Scriptures.

1. How does the story told by Jesus give you insight into your own readiness to express thankfulness?

2. Do you identify with the group of nine lepers who expressed their gratitude among the people of their community, or with the one leper who returned to thank Jesus?

3. How does the act of giving thanks to God each day grow our faith?

As you end your reflection, pray the prayer below or one of your own, then end by slowly praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer: Holy God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your amazing love. Continue to make your presence known to me so that I may give thanks. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Prayer: Almighty God I ask you to continue to fill me with the Holy Spirit. Call me into more times of fruit even though it means I must be pruned. Guide me in the barren times to seek you further and open your word to reveal truth to me.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

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