Note to the readers of these Lenten devotionals.   Every three days throughout Lent, I will be using a cycle of postings — first a gospel reading, then a Psalm, and then some other sacred writing (outside the Bible) — all followed by a prayer.  Today, the writing is by Barrie Shepherd, previous pastor of Swathmore Presbyterian Church, and is drawn from his text “A Diary of Prayer — Daily Meditations on the Parables of Jesus.”

Monastery Windows

The Pharisee and the Publican

Lord, so much of my praying never rises above the ceiling of whatever room I happen to be in.  Just like this smug, self satisfied Pharisee who ‘prayed thus with himself,’ I too find most of my attempts at prayer to be a tedious monologue, not an open-ended dialogue in which listening plays at least as large a part as speaking.

Oh yes, I do address my prayers to you, invoke your holy name at all the decent and regular intervals.  But then I proceed to drown you out, swamp your still small voice with all my wants, my needs, my successes and failures, my likes and dislikes, fears and prejudices.

Lead me Lord, by quiet untrod paths, into that full and open, simple conversation with you.  Teach me to listen patiently, not fill my brain and crowding lips with hurried, formal prayers or scattered thoughts.  Let me be afraid no longer of your truth, your judgment, your call to lose myself in finding.   Free my praying from all petty tyrannies of wristwatch, diary, and calendar.  Help me to treasure this experience of timelessness, these daily snatches of eternity given to be sampled, foretasted in your presence.  And thus deepen me, and broaden me, for the work you give me to do.


Dear God of amazing grace,

Take me by the hand as I still my life in this time of prayer.

Let me dwell in you, rest in you, rely upon you, find my new life in you

as I walk this Lenten journey to the shadow of the cross — and beyond.