Tag Archives: Amen

John Wesley and New Birth

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 22, 2017

John Wesley statue

John Wesley and New Birth

John Wesley and his brother Charles were instrumental in leading one of the great revivals of recent centuries.

When John was in his teens and a student at Oxford University, he and his brother Charles began to follow Christ with great enthusiasm. Although ordained as an Anglican minister, John began to preach to large crowds out of doors. He continued this itinerant preaching ministry “to large assemblies of poor, working-class people throughout the British Isles. His preaching tours took him (chiefly on horseback) more than a quarter of a million miles; he delivered forty thousand sermons.” [1]

That was a lot of miles traveled, and a lot of sermons preached. Talk about an itinerant minister, a circuit-riding preacher! This excerpt comes from a sermon titled “The New Birth.” After showing some examples of various kinds of sins, John Wesley takes the next step: “It is fitting that we try to draw some practical inferences from all this.” [2] Wesley highlights Romans 8:33: “Who will be the accuser of God’s chosen ones? It is God who pronounces acquittal; then who can condemn?”

Wesley’s words pack a punch, indeed: “All the sins you have committed from your childhood right up to the moment when you were accepted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5) are driven away as chaff. They are gone. They are lost. They are swallowed up. They are remembered no more. You are now “born” from spirit (John 3:6).” [3]

He closes with “Just love God who loves you. That is sufficient. The more deeply you love, the stronger you will feel.” [4]

Yes, some will quibble with Wesley’s statement of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. Some might say, “There is great danger in becoming overconfident about our salvation!” However, as we pour out our hearts before God, God will understand us completely. God knows there is no perfection in this life, only progress towards becoming more and more like our Lord.

Dear God, please help us leave behind the sin that so persistently clings to us. Thank You for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness. May we follow Your ways in all of our lives, every day a new day, a fresh day. In the risen Christ’s name we ask these things, amen.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 337.

[2] Ibid, 340.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 342.

PEACE: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 26, 2016

peace, dove stained glass

PEACE: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

I continue a series of posts from Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. (Again, a big thank you to Mr. Rich Groeling, Gemini’s principal!)

What an opportunity to engage with the young people! I encouraged them to make a sign with their personal definition of PEACE. This was a chance to listen to viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Reuben’s definition: “Peace is cooperation and understanding and long lives.”

Next, Sarah’s definition: “Peace is acceptance of everyone around you, regardless of your own personal beliefs.”

Truly, cooperation and understanding are part and parcel of any kind of clear communication. And, if we inject “peaceful” into that equation, we find something high level negotiators long for. (Thanks, Reuben.)

The second definition is similar, in several important ways. Acceptance is key to liking ourselves! Liking ourselves, accepting ourselves—go hand in hand with liking and accepting others. Here is the best part: if I have a relationship with others around me regardless of their (and my) personal beliefs, then I truly am pursuing peace. Breaking down walls, and extending openness and positivity. (Superb definition, Sarah!)

With young people who think like that, I have hope for the future.  Amen!



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er


PEACE: Equality, Be Fair, Accept Others

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 22, 2016

peace, love, unity, respect

PEACE: Equality, Be Fair, Accept Others

Today, I begin a series of posts from Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. (A big thank you to Mr. Rich Groeling, Gemini’s principal!) First, I addressed the whole lunchroom. “What is your personal definition of PEACE,” I asked. Next, I had the opportunity to talk with any student who came to the conference room down the hall from the lunchroom.

I encouraged the young people to make a sign with their personal definition of PEACE. This was a wonderful chance to talk and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Mojahid’s definition: “Peace is equality between everyone, and being fair to people. Also, being nice.”

Next, Jessica’s definition: “Peace is no war, silence, accepting others. Freedom!”

So much overlap with these two personal viewpoints.

I’ve been asking groups of people this question for several months now. (I have over 150 definitions now.) Overwhelmingly, I get a sad or horrified response from most people about the division and animosity in current politics and society. It doesn’t matter from what background or what age. There is a great deal of free-floating anxiety, stress and fear out there.

“Equality between everyone.” Amen! Yes, certainly something to strive for. And, “accepting others.” What would that look like?

I encourage everyone to think of small, loving steps towards PEACE each of us can take, each day. If a whole bunch of people start doing loving, encouraging activities, or saying positive, loving words to each other, we can change the world. #PursuePEACE.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   There is a new Facebook community page, too! (see https://www.facebook.com/Pursuing-Peace-476689469194249/?fref=ts )

See my Twitter account? @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

For All the Saints (A Bit Early)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, October 30, 2015

people diverse fellowship in the church

For All the Saints (A Bit Early)

As I come to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, I’m also approaching the end of October. All Saints’ Day is celebrated in two days’ time.

The prayer for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “For Ever and Ever” (Prayer 558, page 168) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled The Virgin, Martyrs and Saints. The editor marks this selection as penned by “Anonymous.” I thought this prayer both elegant in tone, and comprehensive, for its brevity.

“We thank Thee, O God, for the saints of all ages; for those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning;” – I think of historical figures from various places who not only were faithful themselves, but were God’s lights in uncertain and dark times. God bless them.

“For the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it;” – I think of those courageous “great souls” who did not shrink from naming truth. I think of desperate situations where noble “great souls” stood up and cried out, like a voice crying in the actual or virtual wilderness. They were God’s lights in treacherous and dangerous times. God bless them.

“For the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world;” – I think of countless Marthas and Stephens worldwide, unassuming, going about their quiet work in a quiet manner. Loving God and loving their neighbor. They were God’s lights in tranquil backwaters and placid times. God bless them.

“For those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with Thee.” – I think of many dear ones I have known my life long, who have passed into God’s glorious presence. Bless each one. Bless their memory.

Gracious God, as we are surrounded by such a vast and varied cloud of witnesses, help us to continue to lift Your name high. As we praise Your name along with the mighty company of saints from all time, we say, Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 168.

Looking Forward to Mission (Conference)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 17, 2015

New Wilmington Mission Conference theme verse for 2015

New Wilmington Mission Conference theme verse for 2015

Looking Forward to Mission (Conference)

I appreciate the book I am praying through this month. I turned to a meaningful chapter tonight, in light of what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m going to the New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania, with my daughter. A gathering of about 1000 people celebrating the mission and outreach of the wider Church. (It is a conference of the Presbyterian Church/USA.)

Praying the New Testament as Psalms brings me a fresh way of looking at the New Testament. I was interested to see what my book for July had concerning mission.

A personally meaningful verse from this modern psalm comes from Mark 16: “Call me each moment to be Your disciple,/sending me out to proclaim the message.” [1] God, You have called me to be Your disciple. Wow. I didn’t beg. I haven’t come to You, pleading to become Your disciple. Instead, You chose me. You called to me, and it is Your wish that I am Your disciple. I haven’t figured out how that all works, but I know it is true.

“Call me each moment.” Yes, it is a sort of a one-time calling. At least, that’s all that is necessary. But You, God, keep on calling. Continuing to call me, urging me to proclaim Your message. You encourage, instruct, serve as mentor and guide. All for me and all for serving You.

I am going to be in the midst of an amazing gathering for the next week. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a group of people engaged in outreach of all different kinds, to all different communities throughout the world. Yes, the majority of the people who attend the conference very much feel called, in some way. What a wonderful opportunity to receive instruction and nurture to get refilled. How beneficial! I need refilling to continue to proclaim God’s message. This is one sure way for me to get it.

God, bless the people who attend NWMC. Bless the staff, and especially be with all of the speakers and facilitators this week. Give everyone who attends an instructive time, as well as a time to have fun! I know You are planning marvelous things for this week. Amen and amen!


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 140.

Regaining Soulfulness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 26, 2015

SOUL be the soul of that place

Regaining Soulfulness

Ah, for the old days, when a high percentage of Americans attended church on a regular basis. (I am only being partially serious.) I’m talking earlier in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Actually, by today’s standards, church and synagogue attendance has gone down. However, more people are saying they are “spiritual, but not religious.” Whatever that means—because it means different things to different people.

The author of today’s chapter, Phil Cousineau, said that many more Americans do not associate with a specific house of worship today. (This is borne out by reports made about spirituality and the “nones” in various recent newspapers and news magazines.) However, Cousineau was interested in the expressions “divine spark” and “soulful.”

What do you think of when I say “divine spark?” Do you think of something like “the measure of the depths of our lives”[1] when I mention that? This can be contemplation. Slowing down enough to enjoy writing a letter. Attentiveness, thoughtfulness, mindfulness. These are the areas in which I find some suggestions. Good suggestions, too, I may add.

Moreover, according to Cousineau’s chapter in the Handbook for the Soul, there is some kind of American myth that aids in isolationism. Regardless of this tendency to isolation, many people are drawn toward connecting, meeting together, in a cohesive matter. Whether associated with a faith tradition and meeting place, or not. And, that is a welcoming and positive thing! Amen!

Whether you or your loved one believe in connecting, whether contemplating the mysterious continuity that is this world, or the spark inside of you and me is made to go higher and higher, we can say amen for that!

Please, God, help me—help us to become more and more like God. Less and less like the world.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 162.

God, Reveal Your Presence. Please.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 19, 2015

cherry blossom path

God, Reveal Your Presence. Please.

It has been a week. It seems like almost every day in this past week has had 30 hours crammed into it, instead of just 24.

I opened to the page set aside for this week in my trusty liturgical lectionary prayer book, and I saw the readings for today. Yes, great readings! I used two of them in my sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, this morning.

However, what caught my eye and impressed itself upon my heart was the brief opening prayer for this week’s meditations. “Come now and reveal Your presence to me as I make myself present to You.”

I know these probably sound like/are first-world problems, but my life has been filled with them all, this past week.

I had a bunch of days where my hours were jam-packed, crammed with things to do. Moreover, in the middle of the week, I had stomach flu. (I blogged about it.) So, I found myself running to keep up even more frantically. My home land line has periodically been out of service, so no Internet connection at home. (Hello, friendly neighborhood coffee place!) Plus, someone cancelled at the last minute before a big presentation. I had to go to Plan B—and I wasn’t quite sure what Plan B was until just the night before. Added to everything else, on Thursday night I heard about the recent death of a friend. Last weekend.

Oh, my dear, loving God, how I need Your presence! I needed it before, and I want it, right now! Help me to be present to You. (And some patience would not go amiss, either.)

I am afraid. Uncertain, anxious, angry, hesitant, even forgetful. All in the space of five minutes, even. I need Your everlasting arms around me. Please, Lord. Reveal Your presence to me.

Please. And, thank You. Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

How to Show Fruit. Prayerfully.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 30, 2015

hearts in hands

How to Show Fruit. Prayerfully.

We are nearing the end of this slim, little book, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray. The topic of today’s chapter is on fruit. Or more specifically, fruitfulness. One of the outworkings of prayer is fruitfulness. Or, service.

Rev. Howell tells us about several people of stature who strove to lead lives of not only prayer, but also lives of fruitfulness, of service. Service to others, as well as service to God.

I was intrigued by this quote from Dorothea Day, that committed follower of Christ who was also a committed social activist. She asked, “Does God have a set way of prayer, a way that He expects each of us to follow? I doubt it. I believe some people—lots of people—pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer?” [1]

As someone who feels strongly and deeply that I ought to be of service to others, be kind and helpful whenever and wherever possible, I strive to do this, on a regular basis. Of course, I have the spiritual gifts of helps and mercy, so the Holy Spirit especially helps me in this effort. But that is not an excuse to shirk and hide! Certain people don’t have those special spiritual gifts, but that is no reason why they cannot be of service. Be kind. Be helpful. It’s as simple as holding the door open for someone with their arms full. Or giving someone you don’t know a friendly smile—just because.

I believe God is pleased when I get out of myself, off this hamster wheel of internal dialogue inside my head. God is even more pleased with me when I use my work, or my friendships, or my love to express the love of God to others.

In fact, I tried to be of service every day last year. My blog, A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service is a testament to that fact. I successfully blogged every day in 2014. I have a plan set for the rest of January 2015, and the beginning of February, up until Ash Wednesday, midway through the month.

I was also moved by the prayer that Rev. Howell uses to close this chapter. I take the liberty of closing with these words from English bishop Launcelot Andrewes, too. Such moving, heartfelt words.

Lord Jesus, I give You my hands to do Your work. I give You my feet to go Your way. I give You my eyes to see as You do. I give You my tongue to speak Your words. I give You my mind that You may think in me. I give You my spirit that You may pray in me. Above all, I give You my heart that Your may love in me, Your Father, and all human kind. I give You my whole self that You may grow in me, So that it is You, Lord Jesus, Who lives and works and prays in me.

Amen, and amen!

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1][1] Robert Coles, Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion (Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1987), 28.

Praise God—In Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 17, 2015

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise God—In Prayer

Praise! Yay! Clap your hands! Shout with joy! Hallelujah! Amen! (Not to mention all the full range of musical praises, with instruments and voices, with drums, percussion, and every other way humanity has thought of praising God.)

Praising God is one of the most basic of prayers. Awesome, holy, marvelous, mighty, loving, faithful. God’s attributes can go on and on. And so can our praises.

As Rev. Howell tells us, praise is cheap, today. Madison Avenue and the advertisers instruct people to praise all sorts of things—from razors to toothpaste, from automobiles to coffee makers. From beer to burgers. Yet, this is not right: “the only ultimately praiseworthy object of our adoration is God, the creator of it all, the giver of all good.” [1]

Praise? Yes, it can be loud. Noisy. Ecstatic and uplifting. God made loud, noisy things just as much as God made quiet, soft, gentle things, too. Why can’t we praise and adore God with noisemakers and “loud, crashing cymbals?” (and other instruments, in Psalm 150)

Rev. Howell also mentions St. Francis and his canticle of praise, written near the end of this faithful saint’s life. “While racked with pain, suffering constant hemorrhaging, his eyesight almost gone, Francis and other saints have taught us a paradox in praise, how the very effort to praise God is an antidote to despair.” [2]

We can see how Francis’ canticle mentions Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Water, Brother Fire, among others. I was struck at how closely this canticle tracks with Psalm 148. Praise God. No matter what. Praise God, whether I am personally, ill, and perhaps dying. Praise God, as an antidote to despair. Praise God, at all times and all places. Praise God, in prayer.

I close this meditation, as Rev. Howell does, with Psalm 117. Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples! For great is His steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD! Amen.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 58.

[2] Ibid, 59.

Continuing To Adore Him

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, January 6, 2014

3 wise-men


Continuing To Adore Him

January 6th. The day after Twelfth Night. Three Kings Day. The Twelfth Day of Christmas. Epiphany. It goes by different names in different parts of the world. This is the day in the ancient Western church tradition that the Magi came to give their gifts to the Christ child. The Baptism of Christ is celebrated in the ancient Eastern church tradition

I know that in my current church tradition, the day of Epiphany is pretty much like any other, unless it happens to fall on a Sunday. That’s too bad, since I was raised in a high liturgical setting. I learned about the liturgical colors, the various vestments and the different holy days. I have always liked Epiphany. For years, I’ve been drawn to the concept of the Kings and their gifts, as well as that of the Eternal Light of the Universe suddenly breaking into our little backwater of a world. Being born as a human in Bethlehem. And in some years, the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated. In both cases, the Light of the World is shining forth, whether as a small child or at the beginning of His public ministry.

In the biblical narratives, we see people coming to Jesus. Whether as a baby or as an adult, they come to Him with an agenda. In the case of the Kings, it was to pay homage to another newborn King. In the case of those at the Jordan River, their agenda was mostly to repent and get baptized by John, and Jesus was not the main event (at first).

What about me? I admit I sometimes come to God with an agenda. Well, all right. I almost always come to God with some sort of checklist. What if I let God set the agenda? What if I had no expectations, no presuppositions? What then? I suspect my encounter with God would be different. Very different.

I need to drop the agenda. The checklist. The false expectations and put-on presuppositions. Help me, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, Holy One born in Bethlehem, I pray that I might be a willing servant of Yours. Light of the World, I pray that I might also be a light on a lampstand, giving light to the whole house. Forgive me for my sins, especially the sin of bringing an agenda to You. Hoping, no, demanding that You solve my problems or forgive my sins—when often I’ve stepped right in the middle of something serious or tragic. Please, forgive me. Thank You for Your loving-kindness and gracious mercy. O, let me come and continue to adore You, Lord. Amen.