Let Us Pray III (Beyond Sunday)

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

This week, we tried an experiential sermon time at DPUMC. There was only small amounts of exposition; most of our time was spent in practicing two kinds of prayer. Below are instructions for our in service activities and how to follow up at home. Special thanks to our pastoral intern, Annie Meek, for the Sharing section.



  1. Take three deep breaths, feeling the air fully inflate your lungs and fully exit your lungs.
  2. Focus your attention only on what comes from your senses. Be aware of what you’re touching, hearing, smelling, and sensing. Know that you are safe and comfortable.
  3. Take a word, preferably single syllable, that represents God’s love and care for you. Hold in your mind only this word.
  4. As thoughts, questions or distractions arise, repeat your word until they subside. Then allow the word itself to fade.
  5. Allow yourself to simply be in the presence of God without goal or agenda. Take up your word when you need, then let it fade.

At home, try repeating the practice for 20 min in the morning or evening (or both). Give yourself plenty of time to experience just being with God, but don’t worry if its hard to do for long at first. As you finish your prayer, use your sense to draw you back out of the silence and into the world. Repeat the focusing of attention on touch, sound, smell, and sense. Remind yourself you are loved.


Practice :

  • 1) Ask your neighbor if they would share a prayer request with you.
  • 2) Listen mindfully and calmly, not trying to fix whatever comes up or go on tangents.
  • 3) Allow for a moment of calm silence and focus on your breath, remembering God is ever present, tending, and loving. 
  • 4) Pray for each other aloud or silently as you feel led.

At home, continue to practice sharing with these prayer practices alone or together with friends or family: 

  • 1) “Give thanks and pray for the world, the Church, and the concerns of the heart, followed by the Lord’s Prayer.” (The Book of Offices and Services of the Order of St. Luke, a United Methodist ecumenical religious order)
  • 2) Share gratitude with someone. Ask “what are three things you’re grateful for today?” And share the same for yourself. 
  • 3) Share time in silence or stillness. Practice contemplative prayer or meditation with a friend for 2, 5, 7, 10 15, or 20 minutes a day. Talk about it! 

Let Us Pray II (Beyond Sunday)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

    you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;

you stretch out your hand,

    and your right hand delivers me.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 138: 7-8

One tool that disciples have long used in their prayer life is the Examen. Often associated with Ignatius, prayers of examen invite us to review our inner and outer life in the light of God’s grace. They encourage us to reflect on ourselves and to embrace our growing edges. (For more on Prayer of Examen read Maisie Spark’s article at Urban Faith)

There are several variations and patterns for Examen. This is an easy outline with which to begin:

  • Remind yourself God is present and what that means to you in the moment.
  • Recognize where God has been at work around you.
  • Repent your mistakes, transgressions and opportunities you missed to practice grace and service.
  • Reflect on the state of your heart and feelings that emerge during prayer.
  • Renew hope for growth and the days to come.

In my planner, I have the following examen prayer. It helps to center me and invites me to reflect when things get difficult. Like most prayers of examen, it is meant to be prayed slowly with space for reflection and listening after each section.

Lord, I know that you love me and that you are with me right now.

Lord, help me to be aware of your presence in the people I encounter and experiences I’ve had this day.

Lord, forgive me for the moments when I fall short; times when I am not the person you want me to be.

Lord, give me a heart that is more like your own so that I may be grateful for the blessings of this day.

Lord, grace me with the strength to embrace what awaits in hopefulness with hands outstretched to what lies ahead.

This week, try making a Prayer of Examen part of your spiritual practice. Journal what you discover about yourself and God.

[Beyond Sunday] Together

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

-Ephesians 5:1-2

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash There is a difference between truth and brutality.  Paul’s words encourage Christian communities to be honest with one another but to learn to speak honestly with love.  Too often our divisions are caused by the wounds we inflict in anger as much as by differing ideas.   [hear sermon audio] This week, use these scriptures and questions during your own devotion time or with your family.

Texts to read:

Questions to Ponder:

  • What does anger feel like for you? What signals does your body send you that you’re angry?
  • How do you typically handle your anger in a conflict?
  • Righteous anger can move mountains; unrighteous anger can rend families.  How does your faith help you know the difference?

Do and share:

  • Invite someone you disagree with to trade handwritten letters with you about the subject of your conflict.  Pay attention to how you feel when you read their words.  Work on channeling your own feelings into upbuilding words.
  • Many people are anxious or even angry about the UMC’s Called General Conference in February.  Take some time this week to write your thoughts, concerns or fears on a postcard and mail it to the church office.

[Beyond Sunday] Whale of a Tale 4

 That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:2b-3
We love tidy stories. Three acts with a Happy-Ever-After at the end. Maybe that’s why we skip the 4th chapter of Jonah. Without this last act, we have a story of repentance and forgiveness with everyone content at the end. But scripture pushes further, challenging us to ponder the full extent of God’s grace. If God is as merciful as we believe, perhaps we, his body, will have to expand who we are willing to care for.  [hear sermon audio] This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to Ponder:

  • Who comes to mind when you hear God’s final question: And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left?
  • How do your present feelings affect them?
  • How do your present feelings affect you?

Do and share:

  • Make a list of those you find it difficult to offer grace.  Set aside time this week to pray for each person on the list.  What does God say to you through that prayer?
  • Post on social media about your gratitude for a time you were given grace.  You can tag us @dpumc.

[Beyond Sunday] Whale of a Tale 3

Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. Jonah 3:4-5
The response of the Ninevites to Jonah’s “preaching” is almost incredulously large.  A nation falls down to worship and repent and return to God.  When we proclaim the work of God this should be the response we dream about.  Isn’t God’s grace supposed to be for everyone?   [hear sermon audio] This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to Ponder:

  • To whom in your life might God be calling you to share the good news of grace?
  • What makes that difficult?
  • What difference might a relationship with God make in their life?

Do and share:

  • If you made a list of what you struggle to sacrifice to God last week, return to it.  (if not make one this week)  Journal about how you did on sacrificing something last week.  This week,  pick one thing to work on that could help you tell others about God.
  • What is one thing God has done for you in the last year?  Make a short video giving thanks for that and share it on social media.  You can tag us @dpumc.

[Beyond Sunday] Whale of a Tale 2

As my life was ebbing away,     I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you,     into your holy temple.  Those who worship vain idols     forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving     will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.     Deliverance belongs to the Lord!” Jonah 2:7-9
God doesn’t put Jonah in a fish to teach him a lesson.  God sends a fish to save Jonah from his own choices.  But only there, held suspended between a watery grave and life on shore, does Jonah come to terms with his soul.  In the fish he learns to let go of his pride and arrogance and offer praise to God, despite his circumstance.   In chapter 1, we discussed where God might call us to go.  In chapter 2 we wrestle with what we might endure to embrace our calling.   [hear sermon audio] This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to Ponder:

  • When in your life has faith or praise been most difficult?
  • When you are struggling, how do you make space to talk to God?
  • Describe a time when you had to let go of what you thought was right in order to follow God?

Do and share:

  • Songs have always been a powerful expression of faith and struggle.  What songs do you turn to when you’re wrestling with God?  Share one on our Facebook group or Twitter (@dpumc).
  • Make a list of what you struggle to sacrifice to God.  Pick one thing to work on this week.

[Beyond Sunday] Whale of a Tale 1

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Jonah 1:1-3

Jonah is a story every church kid has heard and almost no one knows. Yes, it is a story about how impossible it is to run from God.  But when we get beyond the children’s Bible picture, complex themes of calling, fear, grace, and hypocrisy emerge.   In the first chapter, we discover just how far out of our comfort zones God might call us to go. Join us for a 4-week journey through this whale of a tale and its message for our divided world.  [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to dive into these scriptures and questions during your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to Ponder:

  • Every believer has a calling from God.  How would you describe yours?
  • Has your calling ever led, or seemed to lead somewhere that made you uncomfortable?  Describe that time.
  • Which voice is stronger in your life right now: calling or fear?

Do and share:

  • Jonah 1 is Jonah’s call story.  Other Biblical figures– like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Moses– have call stories.  Spend some time this week finding call stories in Scripture.  Which one resonates with your own call?
  • Do something this week that scares you and share a picture on our Facebook group or Twitter (@dpumc).

  Feature image by MiniPress and available for download at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/488606806/instant-download-your-word-is-a-lamp-to?ref=shop_home_active_1


[Beyond Sunday] Bible Sunday

​ But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it,  and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
We presented elementary students with their first Bible this week at DPUMC.  It was a great day to reflect on the importance of scripture to our faith and formation.  [hear sermon audio] This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Do and share:

  • Make your own scripture resource file.  Get a journal or some index cards.  Then spend some time finding scriptures you love for each category and put one on each page or card.
    • Scriptures for times of Joy
    • Scriptures for times of Greif
    • Scriptures for times of Disappointment
    • Scriptures for times of Uncertainty
    • Scriptures for times of Hope
  • Encourage your friends to make a list of these scriptures too.  Swap lists and add their thoughts to your file.
  • Share a scripture of Joy in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).
  Feature image by MiniPress and available for download at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/488606806/instant-download-your-word-is-a-lamp-to?ref=shop_home_active_1  

[Beyond Sunday] What’s Up With End Times

​ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will freely give water from the life-giving spring.

Revelation 21: 1-6

Perhaps no faith questions provoke as much speculation as, “What happens after we die?” and “What will the end of time look like?”  The Wesleyan traditions have never been focused on the last days.  The final victory is already won and the details are known only to God.  What matters more is do we follow the commands Christ gave us for the here and now. [hear sermon audio]

This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • Why do you think people engage in speculation about end times?
  • How might the belief that we will leave this world behind affect the way we behave now?
  • How might the belief that God’s final plan involves returning and dwelling here affect the way we believe now?

Do and share:

  • Take some time to chart our your beliefs.  What questions do you have about the end?  Where did you learn what you believe?  How have those beliefs changed over time?
  • Research art connected to Revelation.  Share an image in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc).

Feature Image: Guernica by Pablo Picasso

[Beyond Sunday] What’s Up With Perfection

God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.

-1 John 5: 16b-21

As Methodist, we talk about the life of discipleship as going on to perfection.  But does that mean that every mistake we make is a failure?  If God is love, is it possible that we are called into a perfection that is not a burden, but a graceful reflection of the love that is in us?  [hear sermon audio]


This week, take some time to go deeper.  Use these scriptures and questions to reflect in your devotion time.

Texts to read:

Questions to ponder:

  • When have you felt pressure to be perfect?
  • Was the pressure for perfection internal or external?
  • How does the idea of perfect in love change your perception of perfection?

Do and share:

  • Step out of your comfort zone and try something new or do something you don’t feel you are very good at.  Record how it makes you feel and what you do with those feelings.
  • Take a picture of a random act of kindness this week.  Share in our Facebook group or on Twitter (@dpumc) and include how it expresses perfect love.