Praying With the Early Christians: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of the Early Christians


We’re over-blessed with resources to prompt our morning conversations with Almighty God. What’s your favorite?

Morning Music With the Master

In just 750 tightly-crafted words
 in the introduction to this short-and-significant 365-day devotional, Eugene Peterson winsomely pulls us into the grand life of conversation and prayer with Almighty God. His 1994 book (one of four in a series) is still a gem:Praying With the Early Christians: 
A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of the Early Christians

by Eugene H. Peterson

He quotes Baron Friedrich von Hügel’s belief that prayer “is more like sucking on a lozenge than gulping a meal.” And he notes G.K. Chesterton’s view “that there was a great difference between the lively person wanting to read a book and the tired person wanting a book to read.”

If your daily discipline of meeting God for conversation and comfort is ever-growing and deeply satisfying in 2023—feel free to exit this issue and move on. But if you’re like me—and over the years, you’ve appreciated a variety of morning disciplines—keep reading.

In a dozen days, so far, in 2023, I’ve discovered renewed joy in the simple and short daily devotional readings from Eugene Peterson (1932-2018), the prolific pastor, professor, and author who also penned the beloved Bible paraphrase, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Each daily page includes:
   • The date
   • The topic (with two to five Bible verses to read)
   • Key verse
   • Short commentary (five to seven lines)
   • Short prayer

I’m so enjoying Praying With the Early Christians—which spotlights “a little over a quarter of our New Testament scripture” which was written by St. Luke. (Did you know that?) Luke’s Gospel of Jesus Christ and his Acts of the Apostle “are a two-volume work that provides a comprehensive account of the early Christians.” 

Peterson hoped to inspire us into this daily rhythm of readings from St. Luke—with the expectation “to get us modern Christians praying into step with the early Christians” so that we will be as “astonished as was the first-century world with their love and witness.”

As part of my conversations with the Lord, per the “ACTS” discipline (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), I’ve begun this delightful adoration/praise journey every morning with this book. 

But I’ve added one element. After reflecting on the daily reading, I wait for the Lord to remind me of a hymn or worship song. (Sometimes, the daily prayer is a line from a hymn.) Most mornings, with ear pods in, I listen to a new or favorite version of the hymn that comes to mind, thanks to Amazon Music, YouTube, or iTunes. Or sometimes I whisper, “Alexa, play ‘Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.’”

Listen to “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.’”

It’s the first thought I have when I wake up—“I wonder what hymn or song the Lord has for me today?” 

Example: Last week, when prompted about “hope” by Eugene Peterson, the Lord led me to this soul-touching rendition of “Whispering Hope” from the BBC Songs of Praise broadcast of Nov. 2, 2008, featuring Hayley Westenra and the Cornwall Male Voice choirs. Oh, my!

Click here to view this two-minute, soul-touching hymn, “Whispering Hope.”
Some mornings, I venture over to to learn more about the composer and then hum along with the original lyrics. (See more on “Whispering Hope” here.)

Years ago, Bob Andringa reminded me of the wisdom in this proverb:“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. 
The second best time is today.”

If you aspired to start a 2023 morning conversation/prayer habit with the God of the Universe on January 1, but you haven’t launched yet—no problem. Today is the second best time to start. (And I just checked—He still has openings!)

Over the years, I’ve appreciated a wide variety of resources for my morning meetings:
• A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie (read my review or read online here)
• Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence, by Sarah Young (read my review)
• The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, by Arthur Bennett (Editor) – (read my review)
• Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups (2005 Revised Edition), by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith (read my review)
• And click here to scan my list of “2020 Spiritual Growth Resources,” including Trust for Today: 365 Days of Encouragement – A Year With the Trueface Team and Silencio: Reflective Practices for Nurturing Your Soul, by Stephen A. Macchia, Editor. (click here for 12 resources)

And this caution from Silencio about one zealot:“Deciding to read through the Bible in a year, at breakneck speed,
he completed his assignment … but he sensed very little of the voice of God in his life.”

To order from Amazon, click on the title for Praying With the Early Christians: A Year of Daily Prayers and Reflections on the Words of the Early Christians (Praying With the Bible series), by Eugene H. Peterson.

MORE OPTIONS! The “Praying With the Bible Series,” by Eugene Peterson, also includes three more titles: Praying With MosesPraying With the Prophets, and Praying With Paul. Click on the titles or the books below to order from Amazon:

What resource do you use for inspiring team members at your weekly staff meeting? Some leaders feature a “10 Minutes for Lifelong Learning” segment each week (see Mastering 100 Must-Read Books). Another resource is The One Year Mini for Leaders, by Jim Seybert. (Read my review.) What should we do in 2023 to make our weekly staff meetings enriching and with appropriate Hoopla?

AND THE WINNER IS! In Issue No. 542, I invited readers to submit their cartoon captions for the desert island survivor. The judges had a tough time deciding (and the rules book was thick), so…(drum roll)…there will be two Grand Prize Winners: 
• Dick Nelson: “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
• Sydney Romanov: “A fortunate result of the boat crash, he finally had time to figure out what his wife meant by ‘I’m fine.’”

Congrats to both winners—and, as they say, the “check” is in the mail! At your next staff meeting—photocopy the cartoon and invite team members to write their cartoon captions. (Why? This will help jumpstart your 2023 creativity for Hoopla! Bucket values.)  

Mastering 100 Must-Read Books – Part 2: Books-of-the-Year

Book #14 of 100:
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

For your team meeting this week, inspire a team member to lead your “10 Minutes for Lifelong Learning” session by spotlighting Book #14 in Mastering 100 Must-Read Books

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: 

Discover the 20 Workplace Habits You Need to Break

by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter

Books #6 through #21 spotlight 16 books that I named the Book-of-the-Year from 2006 to 2020. Good News: a client gave me this book in 2013. Bad News: a client gave me this book!
   • Read my review.
   • Order from AmazonWhat Got You Here Won’t Get You There
   • Listen on Libro (9 hours, 38 minutes)
   • Download the 100 Must-Read Books list (from John and Jason Pearson)

Whew! This is one powerful, convicting book. Bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith says there are 20 workplace habits you need to break. He quotes Peter Drucker:“We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do. We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”

Goldsmith agrees and then asks, “When was the last retreat or training session you attended that was titled, Stupid Things Our Top People Do That We Need to Stop Doing Now?

“You’re Leading a Parade!”
George Duff, my friend and mentor, was welcomed to his heavenly home on Jan. 1, 2023. He was 91. A celebration of life service will be Jan. 14 on Mercer Island, Wash. I’ve been so blessed with rich memories of George this month, including this wisdom: “Remember, you are talking not to a crowd but to a parade that is changing all the time.” (Read my blog for ECFA here.) Read my tribute here

Note: George Duff was a volunteer champion of Free Wheelchair Mission (watch for my review of the new Miracle Wheels book). Visit FWM to send a tribute card to the Duff family.

PEARPOD | TELLING YOUR STORY. We have strategized with numerous clients and helped them design eye-catching books and resources that tell their stories—and enrich the lives of their customers and/or donors. For example, here’s a unique resource for your visually-oriented team members: Michelangelo’s Sacred Art of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling: A Coloring Book Exploration. Order from Amazon. For more ideas, contact Jason Pearson at Pearpod (Design, Digital, Marketing, Social).