Tag Archives: Prayer

Forward Today: The gifts of praying together

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 Margaret Ellsworth, Forward Movement’s Marketing Coordinator.

This January marks one year of my most consistent, most life-giving spiritual practices. Every Monday through Saturday in 2022, I’ve started my day by praying Morning Prayer with a group of friends over Zoom.

This is longer than I’ve ever kept up with a consistent habit like this—longer than any workout program, self-improvement life hack, or New Year’s resolution. How did we make it this far?

We didn’t all start out as friends—just folks from various parts of the Internet. Some of us knew each other in person (attending the same parish, or old college classmates.) Others of us were only connected online. What we had in common was our desire to pray.

Over the past year, we have groaned over Job and puzzled over Numbers, and wondered what Jesus was saying to us in the Gospels. We found our favorite canticles and even tried singing them sometimes. We adopted our own cycles of prayer, learning the names of congregations in all 7 dioceses where we had members. And we prayed for each other—for concerns both big and small.

The biggest gift this community has given me is a relief from decision fatigue. I could start my day by hunting down an insightful Bible passage or by extemporizing the perfect prayer. But on the days I wake up tired and uninspired, that extra bit of work is probably going to mean I don’t pray at all. The pattern of prayer we have in the BCP makes it easier to get started. (Even more so if, like our group, you use an app or website that takes the page-flipping out of the equation.)

Praying with a group takes this one step further. I’m not deciding each morning when—or whether—to pray. If I snooze my alarm one more time, I’ll leave the rest of the group hanging. So I show up for them, and they show up for me.

That means showing up in the midst of our daily mess. On any given day, someone is calling in to read their part on the bus to work, or just listening while they get ready for a work meeting. Just last week, I had to hand off the officiant’s part halfway through the Apostles’ Creed to break up an argument between my kids. There’s no pressure to be perfect and reverent—because if we had to be perfect and reverent, we’d never pray together in the first place. Instead we meet each other where we are, and God meets us there too.

We’ve made it this far by making one decision: just show up for prayer each day. It’s a big decision that takes lots of small decisions off our plate. And it has borne fruit for us. As I start my day in prayer, I’m more likely to notice what God is doing throughout the rest of my day. I’m thankful for my friends in helping me show up, and excited to learn what God will show us in the coming year of prayer.

Yours faithfully,

Margaret Ellsworth
Marketing Coordinator

More from our ministry:

Join a community reading through Scripture: The Good Book Club

Pray through the Great Litany this Lent: Hear Us, Good Lord

From Grow Christians: Changing Diapers, Changing Lives

Our first bilingual book of Lenten devotionals: Encuentros con Jesus

Forward Today: What to do when there’s too much

Dear friends in Christ,

I can’t remember a week with more distressing news stories. The situation in Afghanistan is a nightmare, after decades of nightmares. The people of Haiti, who have already suffered beyond belief, are dealing with another earthquake. The global pandemic shows no signs of letting up, and here in the US we see hospitals overflowing. Fires and severe weather patterns continue to grow worse as climate change accelerates. Add to that the ongoing news of violence, oppression, and scandal, and it’s too much to bear.

What are we Christians to do in the face of impossible problems and insurmountable suffering?

I believe our response begins in prayer. And we should not just start there. Praying without ceasing is never the wrong thing to do. Prayer on its own can change things, and prayer can certainly shape our own hearts. Prayer is action, but it’s not the only kind of action.

As the old saying goes, if you feed someone, you’re not changing world hunger, but you are changing one person’s hunger. That’s simplistic, and there are all kinds of problems with this approach. It’s also not wrong.

So one person can change the world, one life at a time starting with our own. There are lots of small ways we can respond to the suffering in the world beyond our prayers (and I hope we always pray!). We can contact politicians to seek policy changes. We can donate money to reputable non-profit organizations who are working in the places about which we’re concerned. We can look at our own behavior and encourage behavior changes in our friends and colleagues. We can be bearers of grace and mercy in a world that often lacks both.

Whenever I’m not sure where to begin, I pray. Lately, I’ve found the Great Litany to be just the thing. I also like to talk with wise friends who are also seeking to offer a compassionate response to what we see in the news.

The worst thing we can do is to accept evil, suffering, and sin as inevitable. We must make no peace with oppression, violence, degradation, or suffering of any kind. After all, we follow a Savior who defeated the forces of might and evil in his day by his death and resurrection on the third day. God’s love is always stronger than the evil of this world.

Will you join me in prayer? And then let us offer grace and mercy in this world.

Yours faithfully,




Scott Gunn
Executive Director

More from our ministry:

Online Course: Civil Conversations in Uncivil Times with Ray Suarez

From Grow Christians, our family blog: Little by Little

Reading suggestion: The Path: A Journey Through the Bible


Forward Day by Day app and website receive major update

Complete overhaul improves user experience and functionality

Forward Movement announces a major update to its popular Forward Day by Day smartphone app, as well as a relaunch of its Daily Prayer website, prayer.forwardmovement.org. The complete overhaul includes a new clean design with simplified navigation, as well as podcast integration and expanded customization settings for users.

Visitors to the Daily Prayer website (prayer.forwardmovement.org) will see the new design immediately, while users of the Forward Day by Day app should automatically receive the update within a few days, depending on their device and settings. The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the app has been free to download since early 2021.

The long-awaited upgrade was completed in partnership with the Rev. Greg Johnston of Cambridge, MA, the creator of the popular Venite app, which Forward Movement began sponsoring in 2020.

“We are committed to our mission to inspire disciples and empower evangelists, wherever they are,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Forward Movement executive director. “This upgrade to our app and website will provide users with an improved user experience, including customizable features and settings, to strengthen a habit of daily prayer and scripture engagement, both known catalysts to a deepening life of faith.”

To assist visitors with bookmarked pages, the existing version of prayer.forwardmovement.org will remain intact for several weeks as users become accustomed to the new website. By late August, pages will redirect to the upgraded site.

The Forward Day by Day app and Daily Prayer website were initially launched in 2012.

Report bugs or problems to tech@forwardmovement.org. We appreciate your help refining this offering!

About Forward Movement

Inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists around the globe every day, Forward Movement has been producing innovative resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations since 1935. Best known for the daily devotional Forward Day by Day, Forward Movement also produces books, smart phone apps, pamphlets, conferences, online courses, church leadership resources, and more, in English and Spanish. Visit www.forwardmovement.org or www.venadelante.org to learn more.

Forward Today: Move every human heart

Dear friends in Christ,

As the US election draws nearer, each day’s news seems to bring more stress. Regardless of our political views, we can agree that our leaders could do better. Poverty is on the rise. Disease runs rampant. Violence seems endemic. I could go on.

So what are we Christians to do? I’ve written about this quite a bit, and with good reason. This topic comes up again and again in conversations, online and in person.

First, we can pray. Prayer is not the only thing we should do, but it is an essential practice for every Christian. We can pray for our own strength and courage. We can pray for the needs of the world. And we can pray for our political leaders and candidates, especially the ones more repugnant to us.

Second, we can speak out. If the church and its members stay silent, we leave the moral voice of the public square to others. It is crucial for people to hear a word of hope, mercy, compassion, justice, love, and grace. Where else will people hear this, if not from the church. Deafening silence changes nothing. A voice crying out in the wilderness might make all the difference in the world.

Third, we can get involved. Vote! If you are worried about free and fair elections, volunteer as a poll worker. If you are concerned about the plight of the poor, contact local non-profits and ask what they need. And so on.

But it all begins with prayer. Today is the second day of a nine-day season of prayer for an election. I invite you to join me and Episcopalians all over the world in praying.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

What a prayer! May every human heart be moved.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director



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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!


In case you missed it…

A Season of Prayer | Forward Movement and The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations

Advent resources now available | Forward Movement

NEW: Growing Christians | Forward Movement

Lent Madness 2021 saints just announced | Lent Madness

Forward Today: Prayer and action

Dear friends in Christ,

To say there’s a lot going on in our world would be an understatement. Between politics, the pandemic, the economy, and protests over racism, it can seem overwhelming.

On Twitter, I asked for suggestions for topics for today’s Forward Today. One person responded, “It seems like calm in a time of chaos might be something readers need now.” Well, yes, I think that’s it. We need to know the peace that passes all understanding, especially in a world that seems unbearably chaotic.

Every now and then, I’ll hear someone say, “Prayer is not enough. We need action.” I reject the dichotomy. Prayer is action. Praying changes my heart, for sure. And I think prayer can change the world.

Sure, we need actions beyond just prayer. In the past, I have joined protests, written letters, made donations, and much more. But it is prayer that sustains me and keeps me focused on God and on God’s kingdom of righteousness and justice. My hope is that, for Christians, our lives are steeped in prayer. Otherwise, we run the risk of setting our minds on earthly things rather than heavenly things.

Yesterday morning, as I said morning prayer, I was struck by the refrain in Psalm 80, “Restore us, O God of hosts; * show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” We don’t save ourselves by endless striving. God restores us. God has accomplished our salvation in Jesus Christ. Our task is to proclaim God’s love, mercy, righteousness, and justice.

Last Sunday I went to a community-wide service of lament and prayer held in one of our parks. One of the speakers said this: “Our hope comes from the Lord, but we need to be people who bring hope. Christ is not coming out of the sky right now to bring us hope. You have to be the voice of hope. Do not stay silent!”

Let us pray. Let us pray every day. Let us pray every day for the wisdom, courage, and strength to be bearers of Jesus Christ’s hope, mercy, and grace in the world.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director



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Photo: Unsplash

Building Racial Justice

This series was made in partnership with Trinity Institute in 2016 based on their 2016 conference, Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice. Courses are built on lectures by some of our leading teachers on the subject of race in America.

  • Spirituality and Racial Justice with Michael Curry
  • Whiteness and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
  • Theology and Racial Justice with J. Kameron Carter
  • Racism and Racial Justice with Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Reparations and Racial Justice with Jennifer Harvey


This series is for those looking to deepen their understanding and conversations on racial injustice.

Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!


In case you missed it…

Pre-order | The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus 

From Bishop Jennifer: A Reflection of Personal Experience, Hope and Challenge for the Church on Dismantling White Supremacy and Racism | Diocese of Indianapolis

I’m Still in Lent: On Ash Wednesday and Being Unequivocal | Earth & Altar

Implement Revive Online | Revive


Smart Speakers Now Offering Episcopal Prayers

Both Alexa and Google Assistant have learned some Episcopal prayers. Thanks to a partnership between TryTank Experimental Lab and Forward Movement, you can now say, “Alexa, open Episcopal Prayer” or “Google, talk to Episcopal Prayer” and your device will begin playing the morning or evening prayer podcasts of Forward Movement.

“Whether people are at home or on the go, these options for moving through the daily office will be both useful and inspiring,” said the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. “As a bit of a geek, I’m excited about this marriage of technology and Anglican tradition to equip disciples for daily prayer.”

Depending on the time of day, Alexa or Google Assistant will play either the morning prayer or evening prayer podcasts, which include the full liturgy of the daily office along with the assigned psalms and readings for the day.

“We are eager to see how this initiative catches on, so that we can learn more about how to bring spiritual practices and technology together,” said the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, director of TryTank. “Our early tests show that it quickly became a regular part of people’s daily routine.”

The podcasts themselves are the brainchild of the Rev. Canon Wiley Ammons, rector of Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville, Florida, who co-hosts the episodes with the Rev. Lisa Meirow, curate at All Saints Episcopal Church, also in Jacksonville. A Morning at the Office and An Evening at Prayer are available on all major podcast platforms.


Forward Movement’s work of discipleship has used contemporary methods since its founding. “In the 1930s, pamphlets were an excellent use of technology to reach people, and now we use all the latest digital platforms and technologies. Reaching the smart home device market is another frontier to explore,” Gunn said.

TryTank Experimental Laboratory for Church Growth and Innovation is a joint project between Virginia Theological Seminary and the General Theological Seminary. TryTank offers inventive approaches to the challenges facing the Episcopal Church. Visit www.trytank.org to learn more.

Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement has been serving the Episcopal Church since 1935 by producing resources such as Forward Day by Day, books, apps, pamphlets, conferences, podcasts, and courses. Visit www.forwardmovement.org to learn more.

Forward Today: Sustained by prayer

Dear friends in Christ,

As I write to you in what feels like the tenth year of being stuck at home, I suspect you are experiencing much of the same swirl of emotions that I feel. Sometimes I am enjoying this time at home, especially since I usually spend so much time traveling. Sometimes I am bored. Sometimes I long for a return to normalcy, even as I know that “normal” will probably be different now. And sometimes I grieve the things I cannot do because of the coronavirus crisis.

I have good days and bad days, and maybe you do, too. Several things keep me going, and one of them is regular prayer.

If you have an abundant prayer life, wonderful. Maybe you wish you had a deeper life of prayer. Or maybe you have been in the habit of daily prayer in the past, but it just hasn’t seemed to work these days. We all wax and wane on our journey as disciples. There’s no shame in admitting we’ve wandered into the desert and we need to find our way to the oasis.

Someone years ago gave me good advice on prayer. Don’t wait to feel like praying. Start praying, and the feeling will come along later. We might imagine that next week we’ll feel holier or have more time. But the reality is that today is the day we can change. So let’s change today. It’s never too late or too soon to start praying.

Forward Movement has lots of resources to help you along the way. We have morning prayer and evening prayer podcasts. We have an app for Android or Apple that offers Forward Day by Day and the daily office. We have a whole website devoted to daily prayer resources. And of course, there’s our flagship offering, Forward Day by Day.

If you’re used to getting Forward Day by Day at your church, maybe they’ll be getting you your own copy at home. You can also subscribe and receive Forward Day by Day in your own mailbox or by email. If you end up with an extra, you can always give it to a friend.

And, of course, we don’t need anything to pray, really. We can just talk to God. If you talk to God regularly, I hope you’ll share your joy in prayer with others. And if you don’t, give it a try. God is always ready to hear our prayers, even when we’re not so sure we’re ready to offer them.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director



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Introducing Matthew
With Vicki Garvey

For six weeks this Easter, meet with other students from around the world for a free, live, online class on the Gospel of Matthew with Vicki Garvey, a respected teacher and author and former Canon for Lifelong Education at the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.

In this class, Vicki will teach us about the author, origin, setting, and message of the Gospel of Matthew. Classes will meet live on Thursday nights via zoom from April 23-May 28, 2020, and they will last an hour.

This class is ideal for people participating in the Good Book Club 2020, and for anyone interested in learning more about the Gospel of Matthew.

Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

New Release:
Come & See: Reflections on the Life of Jesus

Each day since 1935, Forward Day by Day has offered daily devotions rooted in the Word of God and love of Jesus. Now, for the first time, some of the best meditations from the past three decades are collected into one volume and arranged chronologically, from Jesus’ birth to resurrection. Although the devotions were written in different contexts by a variety of authors, this collection offers a rich tapestry of reflections, some poignant, others pointed, but all committed to a way of love.

Come & See is curated by Sanford Smith, a pastor from Omaha, Nebraska, who began reading and collecting his favorite Forward Day by Day meditations in 1985. Today, at age ninety-five, he still volunteers four days a week as a hospital chaplain but every morning, he puts first things first and opens Forward Day by Day to read and pray.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the printing of this title has been delayed until late summer. Pre-order your print copy today, but also know that we’ve made the e-book version available early. You can find it on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and at the iTunes store.

In case you missed it…

New ChurchNext course: A Covid-19 Spiritual Survival Kit | ChurchNext

Held by Baptism: Life Everlasting in the Midst of a Pandemic | Earth & Altar

Keeping our Community: spiritual connection and physical distance | Grow Christians

Virtual Evangelism | Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices

Free Shipping on orders of $50 throughout April | Forward Movement


Forward Today: Making time for prayer

Dear friends in Christ,

This gets to be a busy time of year for lots of people, especially for those who have kids at home. School has started, along with all its activities. And these days, there are extra sports and lessons and so forth for many families. It’s hard to fit it all in to 24 hours and seven days.

Of course, it’s not just families with kids. We live and work in a world that expects us to be “on” all the time. Emails must be answered. Mobile phones are standard equipment. Retirees I know sometimes tell me they’re busier after retirement than before!

Everything pushes us to stay busy all the time. And that’s too bad. Because I think that staying busy is antithetical to our call as disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s not how we’re meant to live.

People love to point out how Jesus said the sabbath was made for us, not us for the sabbath. But do you notice something? Jesus keeps the sabbath! Jesus goes to gardens and quiet places to pray. Jesus rested, just as God the Father commanded him to do. Yes, when God issued us the Ten Commandments, one of the most important things we are to do is keep a day for rest and to honor God.

It’s not going to just happen. Rest has to be scheduled. If you want to develop a prayer life, put it on your calendar. If you want to spend time with scripture, schedule some Bible reading. Jesus famously said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I like to imagine he would also say, “Where your calendar is, there your heart will be also.”

I encourage you to set aside time for rest, time for prayer. It will probably mean saying no to a few things, and that’s OK. If you have kids at your house, the Grow Christians blog has lots of tips for ways to engage in intergenerational conversation, prayer, and learning.

As you receive this, I’m starting a vacation. Practicing what I preach, I’m looking forward to some rest. With any luck, I’ll even get bored. And that kind of rest and refreshment is essential for my journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s not always easy to make this happen, but it’s always worth the effort, I’ve learned. How will you rest? When will you pray?

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

Image: Daughters of Melody Wilson Shobe color an Advent calendar.

Today’s Flash Sale: Living Reconciliation

In a world often defined by differences, Christians are called to be reconciled reconcilers. Inspired by the indaba process of deep listening and seeking common ground, this book shares stories of profound reconciliation from around the Anglican Communion. Written by staff of the Anglican Communion Office and with a foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Living Reconciliation explores how reconciliation is at the heart of mission and a guiding principle of scripture.

Regular: $12
Today: $9

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

Forward Today: A Morning Resolve

Dear friends in Christ,

As I scrolled through Facebook on New Year’s Day, A Morning Resolve appeared in my feed. In my quiet house where everyone else was sleeping, I read the prayer to myself as if I’d never read it before. I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking… It’s easy to see why so many people start their day with this beautiful prayer. Imagine what our world would be like if we all sought to achieve the intentions set in just one or two phrases of this prayer, let alone the whole thing.

The part that stuck with me most was the second sentence: In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right. After re-reading it a few times, I thought about the practices of the Way of Love that Bishop Curry calls us to follow each day: Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest. No matter how many days I have where I feel I’ve worked hard to follow the practices, it’s easy to feel as though I’m falling short. I forgot to say grace before breakfast. Our family Bible study didn’t happen. My day off didn’t include the kind of restorative rest God intended.

A Morning Resolve Prayer

Thankfully, the prayer isn’t over yet. And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The hope of this promise that God, Son, and Spirit embody my being allows me to believe each day in the hope of success. My prayer for us is that the God we worship and praise, the Son with whom we walk, and the Spirit that lifts our bodies, minds, and hearts into action abides with us as we enter into this New Year.

Perhaps you will commit to reading more scripture each day. Maybe you need to focus on making prayer a more consistent discipline. Taking a true sabbath day might be an accomplishment God calls you to achieve. Whatever your intentions for this year, please know that we at Forward Movement believe in you and pray for your success.

Let’s resolve each day to make God’s dreams for us come true.

Miriam McKenney
Development Director, Forward Movement

Today’s Flash Sale: Faith with a Twist

Faith with a TwistFaith with a Twist seeks to bridge the gap between spiritual-but-not-religious by blending the ancient church’s wisdom and the spiritual practice of yoga. All too often attempts to blend yoga and Christianity have failed to do justice to both traditions—often sacrificing the wisdom of one tradition for the other. Faith with a Twist connects the traditional eight limbs of yoga with the church’s understanding and emphasis on living a holy life. This approach creates a unique blend of spiritual practices and religious wisdom that are perfect for the yoga novice and the experienced practitioner alike.

Regular: $16
Today: $12

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time