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Forward Today: Lent is about true love

Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash

Dear friends in Christ,

Today’s juxtaposition of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday offers the perfect occasion for a critical reminder. This season of Lent is all about love. No, it’s not necessarily about romantic love. But this season invites us to return to the Lord—to focus on love of God and love of neighbor.

89 years ago, the very first publication of Forward Movement was a set of Lenten devotions. The founding leaders of Forward Movement saw Lent as a vital time to move forward on our journey as a church and as individuals. A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a transcript of a sermon preached at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine just before Lent in 1935. Bishop William Manning offered what he called “A Charge to the Diocese of New York on the Observance of Lent and the Forward Movement.”

Bishop Manning said, in part:

In the Forward Movement that we now need, and are undertaking, the first step must be a movement back to the use of our Bibles and our Prayer Books. A sincere, intelligent, and believing use of these two books by all of us will bring an awakening of interest, a deepening of conviction, a revival of faith and life which will arouse the whole Church, and at this time in which we are living we need this in every Diocese, in every Parish, and in every Home. Every man and woman who will faithfully read his Bible, and faithfully follow the teachings of his Prayer Book, will come near to Jesus, and this is the soul of our religion as Christians.

I encourage you to read the whole charge for some inspiration and very specific practices to try this Lent as we all repent and return to the Lord. What’s old is new again in our spiritual practices.

If you do not own a Bible you love, buy one to read and study at home. If you do not own a Book of Common Prayer, ask for one at your church or enjoy this lovely gift edition Book of Common Prayer from Forward Movement. If you are on the go, you can pray the Daily Office wherever you are, by reading or by listening to our podcasts, on our prayer website. However you do it, I strongly encourage you to take the good bishop’s advice and use this season to savor the scriptures and the prayer book.

The Bible and the Book of Common Prayer are not in themselves the ends of our spiritual journey, but they are treasures which can help us discover true love: the grace of God, the joy of loving God, and the delight of loving our neighbors. Have a blessed Lent.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. Do you want to pray through Lent with a devotional this year? It’s not too late. Download an ebook of Will You?, our newest Lenten devotional, from Amazon or Apple Books. You can also listen to Will You? as an audiobook from Audible or Apple Books. Our other Lent devotionals are also available as ebooks – browse to see which one speaks to you this season.

More from our ministry:

Laugh and learn about the saints this season: Lent Madness

Start your day with scripture and reflection: Forward Day by Day

Prepare for Easter: Order your Easter calendars today

Forward Today: Top posts of 2023

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Dear friends in Christ,

Blessings to you in this Christmas season. We hope you are observing the Twelve Days of Christmas with prayer, holy joy, and much-needed rest! Looking back at the past year at Forward Movement, we have many reasons to rejoice–not least for you, our readers, who have prayed with us and supported our ministry throughout the year.

Here are some of the most-read messages from Forward Today this year. Thank you for sharing these notes of news and inspiration – we look forward to sharing more with you in the coming year.

Yours faithfully,

Margaret Ellsworth
Marketing Coordinator

It’s about the basics: “In both churches [The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada], I have seen a desire to return to the basics.”

Welcoming guests: “If you want to be welcoming for guests, you have to be ready to see your church through their eyes.”

Welcoming guests (continued): “Fall is coming, and so are guests.”

The Gospel isn’t fair: “The Gospel isn’t fair. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.”

The counter-cultural season of Advent: “Keeping Advent isn’t easy, and that is exactly why we do well to try to keep this season of preparation and repentance.”

Forward Today: Seeing Jesus

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors. Today’s message comes from Miriam McKenney, Forward Movement’s Director of Development and Mission Engagement.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd, he could not because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Driving home from picking up my youngest daughter from college, we noticed several well-fed hawks sitting on farm gate posts across the hundred-plus miles of our trip. “Look at that!” I pointed when I noticed the first one. By the time we saw the third one, Jaiya had observed, “I’ve never seen so many plump ones just sitting there like that. I wonder if it’s something new or I just never noticed them.”

We can learn so much from Jesus’s noticing Zacchaeus. When I heard this scripture read aloud recently, I wondered: Why did Zacchaeus try to see who Jesus was? Did someone tell him about Jesus, or did he overhear something someone said? Zacchaeus was a wealthy tax collector—what was it about Jesus that made him run, not walk, to climb a tree? Was watching things from trees common in those days? Or was something else going on, like the man being Jesus?

If we knew Jesus was coming our way, I don’t doubt that we would be climbing trees, telephone poles, and more to catch a glimpse. But how do we know? Can we know? Zacchaeus teaches us something about how to respond when we see Jesus. What if we acted like we saw Jesus in everyone?

We all want to see and be seen. We long to see something that matters, like it’s already a part of us, even as it feels fresh and new. I’ll never know precisely why Zacchaeus knew to run and climb that tree. I’m thankful to have had the chance to think about the questions. Thinking about why Jesus drew people to him draws me to Jesus.

Being drawn to Jesus often happens in my work as a person who receives requests for copies of Forward Day by Day. I see Jesus in each request because one more person will know God’s love for the world. We’re blessed to offer all we can as God calls us to give.

My prayer is that you will join our ministry of yes, as we see Jesus in every person who writes to us in need, every person who comments on our Forward Day by Day meditation on our prayer site, and every person who comes into contact with our work. Our goal this year is to send copies of our new gift edition of The Book of Common Prayer to incarcerated individuals across The Episcopal Church.

Thank you for your continued support and generosity. We thank God for you, and we pray for you.

Yours faithfully,

Miriam McKenney
Director of Development and Mission Engagement

More from our ministry:

From Grow Christians: CS Lewis’ Compelling Representation of Christ

Notice God in the world through our social media devotion, AdventWord

Get your copy before Advent begins: Holy Is His Name

Donate today to send beautiful prayer books to incarcerated individuals

A story of connection from Forward Day By Day

We’ve enjoyed hearing from Mallard Benton this month in the Forward Day By Day reflections for October. This month’s writings sparked an unexpected connection. We received this letter from a reader to pass on to Mr. Benton:

Mr. Benton:

I am fairly sure you are the man I have remembered for more than 40 years.

As a high school senior at Briarwood High School in East Point, Georgia, I worked at the bookseller at Greenbrier Mall.  I believe it was a B. Dalton Bookseller.  The store manager was an African-American man. He had a deep knowledge and love of books that he shared readily with his employees and the store’s patrons. He had a gentle energy. It was my first job, and the experience left me believing managers made a positive impact in the world. And while not distinctive at the time (thanks to parents and an Episcopal church), working for a wonderful African-American man surely shaped my world view.

That start in work life shaped my career.  This year, I am a fellow in Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, following a 30-year career in higher education and a business education and experience. 

I think that man may have been you.

 I’d love to connect if you have the time and energy.  

With hope,

Mallard confirmed he was, in fact, Beth’s supervisor all those years ago. Praise God for the connections that these words of reflection can bring!

Forward Today: Putting our faith and trust in God

Note: As we continue to pray for healing for the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, this weekly message will feature guest writers from the Forward Movement staff and board of directors.

Miriam McKenney, Hannah Wilder, and Scott Gunn at the Episcopal Communicators conference in 2014.

We were finishing lunch at our Airbnb. I was much more excited than the rest of my family to go to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. I always visited there when we were in Connecticut to visit my in-laws. Just as we were leaving, I got a call to join an emergency meeting where I learned that Scott Gunn, Forward Movement’s executive director, was seriously ill in Singapore. Tears rush up as I type these words, just as they did at that moment, along with shock, dread, worry, and fear. I don’t remember much else about that first meeting except those feelings. 

Our plans to go to the museum faded as I sat on the couch, unable to move or make sense of my thoughts. Finally, I decided to work on Odyssey, our magazine for donors and friends of Forward Movement. We’ve been moving through the Way of Love spiritual practices, and our next issue is on worship. I opened my copy of Scott’s book The Way of Love Practical Guide to read the worship chapter and decide which part to excerpt for the magazine.

Here is where trusting that God knows exactly what we need comes in. I had no idea that I needed to read what Scott had to say about worship—something he loves to do. He starts the chapter with this story:

When I was a younger adult, I was a bit of a spiritual nomad. I spent several years looking to make sense of the Christian faith. My wandering was all very cerebral. Then one evening, I entered a church with a liturgy that was ceremonially rich and ornate. All of my mental circuit breakers were blown—in a very good way. No one rationalized what happened in Holy Communion. Instead, people genuflected in awe at the majestic presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There was glorious music and the scent of incense, and all of this was happening in a stunning space. I glimpsed heaven. I was swept along into a realm that was much larger than my imagining. I was with people whose physical postures and actions manifested a sacrificial worship of God in Jesus Christ.  

Tears continued to stream down my face as I copied and pasted the salient parts of the chapter for Odyssey. I realized it was not me but God who guided me to the words and thoughts of my boss, colleague, friend, and brother in Christ. I can’t say I felt better, but I did feel calm and peace enveloping me. I felt trust where I’d felt fear. I rooted myself in a constant stream of prayer for all of it. I allowed my mind and heart to travel down paths I didn’t want to travel because I knew I had a way back. Spirit would not leave me. Jesus was near.  

Working with Scott for the last eleven years has changed my spiritual life. Those who know us might be surprised to hear me give him credit for that—but it’s true. Growing up as a priest’s daughter did not guarantee a close relationship with Jesus or even an understanding of who Jesus really was. Spending time reading scripture, practicing spiritual practices, and even knowing it’s essential to do those things is due to Scott’s relentless call to all of us to get closer to God. That he continues to heal and will eventually journey back to us is something we can praise God for, saying: 

O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servant Scott, that his weakness may be banished and his strength restored; and that, his health being renewed, he may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Thank you for your prayers for Scott, Sherilyn, and the staff and board of directors of Forward Movement. I know that Scott’s healing and your prayers are intertwined. As our board chair Kate Wesch said last week, prayer is crucial for Scott and all who care for him. You are in our prayers, and we thank God for you.


Miriam McKenney is Forward Movement’s Director of Development and Mission Engagement. 

More from our ministry:

Pray with us every day:

A pastoral announcement about the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn

Dear friends, we come to you today with difficult news. Our executive director, the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, had a serious medical incident while on vacation in Singapore. He is now hospitalized there, and late last night, his wife, the Rev. Sherilyn Pearce, arrived to be with him.

This morning, Sherilyn reports that Scott is resting comfortably and is receiving world-class medical care. His current condition is critical but improving, and while hopeful, doctors report that he has a long road ahead. The medical and pastoral team, along with Sherilyn, are encouraged. She is particularly grateful for the care and support of the Anglican Church in Singapore, which has made a significant difference both for her and for Scott.

We encourage your prayers for Scott, Sherilyn, the medical and pastoral team in Singapore, and all those who love and care for them. We also appreciate your understanding of our need to balance sharing information and respecting personal privacy. We will share more news when we have it, and for now ask you to offer your intentions and prayers below.

Let us pray…

For Recovery from Sickness
O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant Scott the help of your power, that his sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP, 458)

For Today
O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. (Phillips Brooks)


Queridas amigas y amigos, tenemos tristes noticias: El Rvdo. Canónigo Scott Gunn, director ejecutivo de Forward Movement, cayó gravemente enfermo cuando llegaba de vacaciones a Singapur. Está hospitalizado allí. Anoche la esposa, la Rvda. Sherilyn Pearce, llegó para estar con él.

El último informe que recibimos es que está cómodo y recibiendo excelente atención médica. Su condición es crítica, pero muestra síntomas de mejora. El equipo médico dice que en el mejor de los casos habrá una larga convalecencia. El equipo médico, el equipo pastoral y Sherilyn están animados. Ella, en particular, está agradecida a la Iglesia Anglicana en Singapur por el valioso apoyo que les están dando en estos momentos difíciles.

Te pedimos que ores por Scott, Sherilyn, el personal médico y el equipo pastoral en Singapur, y todos lo que los aman y apoyan. Esperamos que comprendas que tenemos que respetar la privacidad de la familia. Te daremos más noticias cuando estén disponibles, y ahora te pedimos que nos acompañes en oración.


Por el restablecimiento de la salud:
Oh Dios, fortaleza de los débiles y consuelo de los que sufren: Acepta misericordiosamente nuestras oraciones y concede a tu siervo Scott el auxilio de tu poder, a fin fe que su enfermedad se convierta en salud y nuestra tristeza en gozo; por Jesucristo nuestro Señor. Amén. (Libro de Oración Común, p. 379)

Para el día de hoy:
Oh Dios: Dame la fortaleza de vivir un nuevo día;
que no me acobarde ante sus dificultades,
ni sea desleal a sus deberes;
que no pierda la fe en los demás;
consérvame manso y puro de corazón,
a pesar de la ingratitud, la traición o la vileza;
líbrame de concebir pequeñas aflicciones
y de imponérselas a otros;
ayúdame a conservar limpio el corazón
y a vivir honesta y valientemente,
para que ningún fracaso externo pueda desanimarme
ni arrebatarme el gozo de una conciencia íntegra;
abre los ojos de mi alma
para que pueda percibir el bien de todas las cosas;
concédeme hoy una nueva visión de tu verdad;
inspírame con el espíritu del gozo y la alegría;
y hazme cáliz de fortaleza para los que sufren;
en nombre de nuestro poderoso Liberador,
el único Señor y Salvador, Jesucristo. Amén. (Phillips Brooks)

Forward Day by Day app and website upgrades add Spanish content, new features

Forward Movement has updated its popular Forward Day by Day app and Daily Prayer website with a Spanish language setting, as well as a fourth daily podcast.

App users and website visitors may now select English or Spanish in their preferences, changing the scripture, prayers, and devotions, as well as navigation and system settings. Ongoing improvements to scripture translations will continue to improve the reading experience in Spanish in the coming months.

Scripture Day by Day podcast logoThe upgrade also unveils Scripture Day by Day, a new daily office podcast following the readings listed in Forward Day by Day, with lectionary readings for Sundays and Major Feasts following the Revised Common Lectionary.

Created by the Rev. Canon Wiley Ammons of Jacksonville, Florida, Scripture Day by Day joins three podcasts already available for playback within the app and website: the Forward Day by Day Podcast, A Morning at the Office, and An Evening at Prayer. All are available across major podcast platforms and on the Forward Movement website.

The latest improvements are thanks to the work of the Rev. Greg Johnston of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who overhauled the app and website in the summer of 2021. Johnston is also the creator of the popular Venite app, which Forward Movement began sponsoring in 2020.

“These upgrades have a tangible impact on people’s journey with Jesus, especially as we navigate a busy and distracting world,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Forward Movement executive director. “We’re honored to work with a dedicated community of partners and donors to improve this free offering for the church.”

Visitors to the website ( will see the new options immediately, though a browser refresh may be needed. Users of the Forward Day by Day app should automatically receive the update, depending on their device and settings.

The donor-supported app is available free of charge on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

About Forward Movement

Forward Movement inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. We offer devotions, Bible studies, formation courses, and other resources to equip and support people in their walk with Jesus Christ. Visit or to learn more.


La aplicación “Forward Day by Day” ahora está disponible en español, y con más funciones

Forward Movement ha actualizado la aplicación “Forward Day by Day” y el sitio web de oración diaria, que ahora ofrece el texto en español y un cuarto podcast diario.

Quienes usan la aplicación o visitan el sitio web podrán ahora seleccionar español o inglés, cambiando el idioma de las escrituras, oraciones y devociones, así como las configuraciones de navegación y sistema. En los próximos meses se harán mejoras adicionales.

Scripture Day by Day podcast logoLa aplicación incluye además “Scripture Day by Day”, un nuevo podcast del oficio diario que sigue las lecturas indicadas en Adelante día a día, con las lecturas del leccionario para los domingos y las fiestas mayores tal como aparecen en el Leccionario Común Revisado.

“Scripture Day by Day” fue creado por el Rev. Canónigo Wiley Ammons de Jacksonville, Florida, y se suma a los tres podcasts que ya están disponibles en la aplicación y el sitio web: El podcast de Forward Day by Day, A Morning at the Office y An Evening at Prayer. Todos están disponibles en las plataformas de podcasts y en el sitio web de Forward Movement.

Las mejoras más recientes las realizó el Rev. Greg Johnston de Cambridge, Massachusetts, que en el verano de 2021 renovó la aplicación y el sitio web. Johnston es también el creador de la aplicación Venite, que Forward Movement viene patrocinando desde 2020,

El Rev. Canónigo Scott Gunn, director ejecutivo de Forward Movement, dijo que “estas mejoras impactan de manera tangible nuestro caminar con Jesús, especialmente con los muchos trajines y distracciones de nuestro mundo. Nos honra poder trabajar con una comunidad de socios y donantes para mejorar este recurso que le ofrecemos gratuitamente a la iglesia”.

Las mejoras ya pueden verse en el sitio Quienes ya usan la aplicación Forward Day by Day recibirán una actualización automática según el dispositivo y las configuraciones que usen.

La aplicación, que es gratuita y se logró con el apoyo de donantes, se puede descargar en las tiendas digitales de Apple y de Google Play.

Forward Movement

En Forward Movement inspiramos discípulos y empoderamos evangelistas. Ofrecemos devociones, estudios bíblicos, cursos de formación y otros recursos para equipar y apoyar nuestro discipulado con Jesucristo. Para averiguar más, visítanos en o


Three new titles available for pre-order

Forward Movement announces three new titles available for pre-order

Three new highly anticipated titles are now available for pre-order from Forward Movement. All three will be released in September 2022. Pre-orders will ship in late August.

Cover art for The Unjust StewardThe Unjust Steward: Wealth, Poverty, and the Church Today, by Miguel Escobar, explores the challenges of wealth and poverty, from the beginnings of Christianity to the church today.

$25 each
ON SALE: $22 direct from Forward Movement
Bulk: $16 each for 5-9 copies  |  $14 each for 10+ copies

Pre-Order Now!



Cover art for Vital Signs of FaithVital Signs of Faith: Finding Health In Your Spiritual Life, by Kate Moorehead Carroll, helps disciples cultivate and nourish their faith through four vital signs: God, Give, Grow, and Group.

$18 each
Bulk: $15 each for 5+ copies

Pre-Order Now!





Cover art for The Book of Common PrayerThe Book of Common Prayer: Gift Edition is a new deluxe edition of The Book of Common Prayer, featuring a leather cover, gilded edges, and six satin ribbons. This edition includes the Revised Common Lectionary, and red text for all rubrics, principal feasts, and holy days, make this a unique edition.

$55 each

Pre-Order Now!



About Forward Movement

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing excellent, innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations for more than eighty years.

Forward Today: Stir up thy power

Dear friends in Christ,

I love the collect – or prayer of the day – for this coming Sunday. It’s an ancient prayer that still speaks to us today.

Illuminated manuscript in Latin, which translated reads "Stir up your power, O God, and with great might come among us."Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Several years ago, I wrote about this prayer for an Advent retreat I led. In that retreat meditation, I said:

I am captivated by the idea of God stirring us up, of being stirred up by God’s power. It really suggests we won’t be left the same, that things will get mixed up in us and in the world through God’s power. I think of the swirling nothingness at the beginning, out of which God brought all Creation into being, and how God’s creativity continues in the world. Stir up thy power!

My gosh, I am so ready for God to stir things up. It’s not that our chaotic, fallen world needs excitement. Rather, the patterns of power, might, greed, and violence need to be stirred. Complacency and fear need to be stirred away. Hope, grace, mercy, peace, and justice need to be stirred in. We need some stirring.

If you can, get to church this weekend or join a service online. Hear the warning of John the Baptist. Pray for a fresh stirring up of our world and our lives. Do the work of repentance to which Advent calls us.

We can’t do it on our own. Stir up your power, O God! Stir us up, we pray!

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

New ChurchNext course on interrupting cycles of violence: Each Other’s Keeper

Forward Today: The gift of daily devotions

Dear friends in Christ,

The cover of a Forward Day By Day pamphlet, November-December 2021, January 2022I recently had the opportunity to visit three different churches on three different Sundays. At each one, people told me how much they love Forward Day by Day. In case you’ve never run across it, each day Forward Day by Day offers a snippet of scripture, a brief reflection, a suggested action, and a place in the Anglican Communion for which you are encouraged to pray.

The stories I hear about Forward Day by Day amaze me. A man once told me how it helped him discover his vocation. A woman once told me it sustained her while her husband was fighting during a war. People tell me how it’s an essential part of their day. Lots of readers talk about how the practice of daily prayer and reflection keeps them anchored as followers of Jesus Christ.

That’s just it. Being a Christian isn’t a Sunday job. It’s all encompassing. The habit of daily prayer and reflection helps us remember God’s love for us and the call of Jesus Christ to follow him.

In every church I visit, there are always people – usually the majority – who don’t have a habit of daily prayer and reflection. There are lots of ways to pray daily, and you can certainly study the scriptures on your own. But Forward Day by Day offers an accessible entry to a life-changing practice of prayer and study.

If you haven’t tried Forward Day by Day, you can read it online or listen to our podcast or get the free app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. Of course, it’s also available in print. Thousands of people love our pocket-sized edition.

This is the time of year when many start to think about Christmas gifts. As we celebrate Christ’s birth, how about giving someone a gift that will help them follow Jesus day in and day out? Amid all the chaos of this world, Forward Day by Day makes an easy gift to give. It might just be life-changing for the recipient. You can order a gift print subscription online. If you want to give several, or if you have questions, feel free to call us.

I know it’s true in my own life: daily prayer is hugely important. It’s never too late to start, and it’s never too late to invite someone else to give daily prayer a try.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Pray with us any time of day: Daily Prayer Podcasts

Explore new forms of prayer: Seek and You Will Find

Get ready for daily prayer through Advent: Promise and Praise