Tag Archives: angry

Prayer. More About Breath

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 26, 2018

teach us to pray,

Prayer. More About Breath

When I read a section from this little book of Father Nouwen’s today, I immediately thought of people who are very much hurt. Hurt on the inside. They hurt so much that they can hardly open up to anyone. Not even to God.

Yes, I know Father Nouwen wrote so eloquently about prayer, and about it being the life-breath of God. That is true in so many situations, yes. But, not in all.

Last week was World Refugee Day. I read what several prominent church leaders had to say about the incredibly sad situation that so many people are in, worldwide. Migrants, refugees, fleeing for their lives, in most cases. Fleeing because of war or conflict, violence, famine, flood, or any of a dozen other reasons.

And, I prayed. I prayed for these dear ones, all over the world. I prayed for the desperate or horrible situations from which they flee. I lamented. I wanted to raise my fists to God, crying out, “How could this happen?” But, I didn’t.

However—I am sadly aware that some of these refugees are incredibly hurt and angry. Some of these refugees and migrants cry out to God, asking about justice, about free passage to a stable life, about a decent place to sleep and food to eat. Things I know nothing about, since I have had stability and a roof over my head for all of my life. (Not necessarily the most emotionally-functional living situation, but still, pretty stable.)

I am afraid many refugees are too emotionally and psychologically hurt to pray. It pains me to think that, yet I realize it probably is a reality.

At the same time, I was so touched by Father Nouwen’s quote from Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Song for the Asking.” [1] He speaks of allowing others to appear to him as they choose. “Then people can talk to one another and share their lives in a way where heart speaks to heart.” [2]

Alas, I do not think many refugees are quite ready to enter into dialogue, sharing their lives in such a way. I suspect their lives right now are much too desperate. I hope and pray that refugees worldwide can arrive at a place where prayer and thanksgiving become possible for them. I pray that such dialogue becomes a possibility for them, too. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our heartfelt prayers.




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] “Song for the Asking,” Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel album Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970, Columbia)

[2] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 32.

Be Present in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 27, 2017


Be Present in Prayer

As I read the short passage this evening from the book How to Sit, I was struck by how much common sense was to be found in this brief reading. “When we have the capacity to be peaceful and joyful as we sit, we can sit anywhere.” [1] Yes, that is correct. The quote says “we can sit anywhere.” That is anywhere, in peace and joy.

When I am anxious or fearful, this is an option for me. When I am angry or jealous or depressed, again—this is an option for me. Being in the present moment, striving after peace and joy.

From what I understand, peace and joy flow into the sitting, and being present. Prayer and meditation are part and parcel of sitting, and being present. This practice is simple, and straight forward. NOT easy, but it is simple. “We are not pulled away by the past, the future, or by anger or jealousy in the present. When we sit like that, we sit as a free person.” [2]

Then, as I sit in prayer and meditation, I am free. I am not bound by strong, difficult emotions. My insides are not tied up in knots, and I can approach the Holy freely. What a gift.

Gracious God, thank You for showing me this option. Thank You for giving me possibilities in this life. Forgive me for disregarding You and Your kindness to me. Help us walk close by You from this day forward. In Jesus’ precious name we all pray, 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 82.

[2] Ibid.

Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 19, 2016


Praying Through a Blue Christmas Service

Tonight was cold, bitter, and generally a rotten evening for driving. Especially given the cold weather and horrible traffic.

However, the Blue Christmas service at my church served as a small, gentle, quiet island in the general holiday rush-rush and busy-busy.

Ever read Psalm 77? Not usually read in services during the lectionary year. It talks a lot about how frustrated—even angry the psalmist is. (God knows. But, God can take it.)

Knowing the pain, hurt, even grief of living through another holiday season, seems so poignant. Readings to light each of the Advent candles, plus brief times of silence. All meant to allow a place and a space for quiet reflection.

All of this Blue Christmas service was made easier by Pastor Kevin. I appreciate him so much. He co-led the service with me. Thanks to him for his kindness, especially since an elderly relative of mine died last week. (Come to think of it, I particularly could use a Blue Christmas service right about now.)

In one of the leader’s parts tonight, I invited those present a time to offer up the loneliness, the sad and dark memories, and the anxiety and fear to the one whose birth we quietly await…Jesus Christ. I wished those present a time to find hope and peace in this service and comfort in knowing that we are not alone.

Whether we grieve, have pain, or have difficult memories, whether we celebrate or not—dear Lord, in Your mercy, be with us all this night,.



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

To Pray, To Give Support

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, December 4, 2016


To Pray, To Give Support

I have been following certain unwelcoming activities during the past number of weeks. I am sad to report that I’ve been equipping people to meet mean, nasty or angry comments. How, you might ask? Great question!

As reported before, I tried to find what our scriptures had to say about mean, angry and hateful activities. Accordingly, I turned to Matthew 5 and found where Jesus said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I called for people to come together for a Gathering for Prayer and Mutual Support (Build Bridges, Not Walls). It will be on Monday, Dec. 12 from 7 to 8 pm at St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove.

I wish to open St. Luke’s Church for prayer. I wish to join together in spirit and in truth, using the words of Jesus. Those difficult and challenging questions—what would Jesus do, when faced with these kinds of words, actions and attitudes? I think Jesus would pray for those who disagree with Him, certainly. That is one part of what we will be doing as we gather in prayer, as well as praying for our communities, our local governments, and our diverse friends.

Please God, I hope many will seek after peace, understanding, and questioning issues that trouble them. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of prayers.



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

PEACE, Despite the Unfair World

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 31, 2016

PEACE, Despite the Unfair World

Today, I return to St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. Their principal, Fr. Corey Brost, gave me the opportunity to hang out in the lunch room and talk briefly with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large room.

I’ll be featuring two personal definitions of PEACE per day. This was a wonderful chance to talk with young people and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

Barbara’s personal definition: “PEACE is knowing you are doing the right thing.”


As I asked her for more information about this excellent definition, Barbara said, “It doesn’t matter what is going on in the world as long as you know you are right with God. Whatever kind of crap is going on in the whole world doesn’t matter!”

That is a great insight. Even though all kinds of “crap” is going on all around us, it doesn’t matter—ultimately. (And, thanks, Barbara, for a great term for all the awful stuff happening in the world today.) God’s hand is on us. God is with us. Yes, we can go through all kinds of stuff. But, if we are right with God, we have the opportunity to have God’s peace. In the middle of crap!

Elise’s personal definition: “PEACE is when everyone is treated fairly and equally.”


I could tell Elise was a little hesitant. (Or, maybe shy, or maybe because I was a strange adult. I tried to make her comfortable!) She said, “If everyone is treated in the same way, everyone won’t feel badly.”

How true, Elise. Unfair treatment causes people to get angry. Disgruntled. Even, violent. All those things are the opposite of PEACE. Unfair treatment means there is one group of people that has power-over the second group of people. Unequal power often leads to mistreatment, which means someone may get so angry that fighting may break out. All that separation, alienation and disagreement means one thing: NO PEACE.

Dear God, thank You for giving these young people such great ideas. Please let them continue the conversation about PEACE, wherever they go. It can be as simple as sharing a smile, holding a door, or taking a little time to help an older person. Lord, help us all to continue to #PursuePEACE.


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Pray, Out of the Miry Clay

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 25, 2016


suffering word cloud

Pray, Out of the Miry Clay

I get sad sometimes. Anxious. Depending on what has happened in my life, and how my emotional barometer is reading, I can get depressed. On occasion, to the point of despair. What am I to do? How on earth can I get out of this?

Psalm 40 gives me some positive steps, and words to match. Not only am I advised to wait for the Lord, but I know God will hear me. God will come to my aid. (Sooner or later. And, I know. Sometimes it really seems like “later!”)

Negative emotions can be the pits. (And, sometimes I can feel like I am in the depths of a horrible pit, too.) If I am not careful, negative and depressing feelings can run away with me, just like wild horses can gallop away, too. Horrible. I don’t even want to think about such things. Good thing I know where I can turn—I know God can help.

Let’s turn to God, now. Dear Lord, gracious God, I pray for me, and for my loved ones. Dear God, I pray against anxiety, anger, despair, depression, and hopelessness, in any of our lives. In all of our lives. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Restore to my loved ones the ideas and thoughts of positivity. Give us the ability to take the sad or angry or fearful situations we are—sadly—so familiar with, and turn to You. Trust in You. Please, dear Lord, hear our prayers.


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

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 20, 2015

difficulties overcome

God Was with Paul and Barnabas. God Is with Me, Too.

Our God is acknowledged as very present, and a refuge in times of trouble.

Whatever happens, whenever I can help out, God will be with me, too. Just like God was with Paul and Barnabas in their difficult times, in Acts 13. But, it didn’t start that way. No, Paul and Barnabas went to and fro at first, freely witnessing to the power of the resurrection. A portion of the people listening to them were described as jealous of God’s power and success, too. So, they started to persecute Paul and Barnabas.

There is no pleasing certain people. Whatever happened, God was there in the past. And God will be there, at our sides, right now. Whether stilted, difficult, or downright angry, some people keep stirring up trouble and problems.

Intellectually, I keep telling myself that the power of God will help me! Experientially, that’s another matter. Doubts come up in my mind. Anxious thoughts, fears, even angry thoughts. But God can smooth that all out. God can overcome, even though. Thanks, God!

Let’s come to God in prayer. Dear God, thanks for being there with me. Thanks for being present amidst my doubts and fears. Thanks for helping me to say, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” But, God, not everyone believes this. Help me to keep on striving to communicate God’s love, even though things are not going my way. Thanks, again, for being a refuge and a strength to me, even through difficulties. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


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

To Feel, or Not To Feel? In Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 26, 2015

secret is simple--prayer

To Feel, or Not To Feel? In Prayer.

It’s just Jesus and me, on the mountaintop! Together, praying and meditating, walking, and sitting in silence together. I feel so close to the Lord, it’s just amazing!

Well . . . not always. Even, not often. But, yes, sometimes.

It’s true, I don’t feel the awesome, mighty, yet intimate presence of God quite all the time. I would be lying if I said that I did. It’s only been recently—and I mean less than two hundred years—that feelings in prayer have been trusted. In selected writings of the Pietists and in the First and Second Great Awakenings of the Church (in certain parts of the world), scattered people reported deep feelings in prayer and in the relationship with God. But not many.

As Rev. Howell tells his readers, Martin Luther warned that deep feeling in prayer might well be a trap, that the devil might be seducing us into something not of God. [1] This was a common statement or concern, for many centuries. On my part, I am heartily glad that feelings are not suspected to be temptations or traps any longer!

Looking at the whole subject of feelings from the other side, however, I can understand how being too dependent on feelings and intuition can get me into trouble. Too much emphasis on feelings can cloud logic and common sense. And, when feelings go too far into states of mind that are negative or harmful in any way (like chronic depression, severe anxiety, and the like), that’s when other believers in God can be helpful.

Isolation, deprivation or fasting, except for brief and measured periods of time, is not positive. What comes to mind is an acronym used in the addiction, substance abuse, and recovery fields: H-A-L-T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Any one of these states can be a concern. And two at once? An even bigger concern. These states can also trigger or heighten negative emotion, exacerbating a bad feeling (or situation) into something much worse. Suggestion: if and when you feel this way? Seek out mature believers, ministers, or others you can trust, and open up to them. And, if this negative feeling continues? Please, seek out professional help, even call 911.

So, yes, having deep feeling in prayer and in our relationship with God can be great! But, as Rev. Howell so perceptively said, “Jesus did not come so we could feel different, Jesus came so we could be different.” [2] Amen! Help me—help us—to stick close to You, God, no matter how we feel. No matter what our situation is. 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] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 82.

[2] Ibid, 83.

Like a Refiner’s Fire

refiner's fire

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 23, 2013

Like a Refiner’s Fire

It’s almost Christmas Eve. I want to scoot ahead to the time of the Christmas celebration, but we aren’t there yet.

Today, in my Advent reflection, I read Malachi 3:1-3. I was especially struck by the words “For he is like a refiner’s fire . . . and he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver.” Yes, I am still waiting, as the practice of Advent encourages me to do. I am watching and waiting for the messenger of the covenant to prepare the way before me, true. But I’m afraid of that other image, too.

I understand the image of the refiner’s fire in principle. But I do not like going through the fire. It’s the being-refined-part that I object to. It hurts! Ow! What gives, God?
I’ve been there, especially in the past number of months with my employment situation. (or difficulty with, or total lack thereof) I understand that I am supposed to reflect God. I’ve heard the analogy of a silversmith melting silver in his shop. He knew that the molten silver had all the impurities taken away when he could see his face in the silver. Gee, silver must really get hot for that to happen! I guess that‘s similar to my situation(s). I earnestly am trying to be faithful, and to follow. Even when the situation’s too hot to handle.

Help me wait for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. Soon! Very soon!

Let’s pray. God, I try to follow You. I know You are there by my side, and Your purposes are good and gracious. I know You want me to be faithful, too. Even when I forget You’re there, or get angry because things aren’t going my way, or just get sick and tired of waiting for You. God, forgive me. Help me to continue to wait. Be with me when things get too hot to handle. Protect me when I’m being tried by fire. God, thanks for Your constant presence through every situation, even in this almost-Christmas, still-waiting time. Amen.

“Tomorrow can take care of itself.”

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, God. It’s me, again.

I am back considering one of the Gospels, again. I am so intrigued by portions of the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously, Lord, parts of it seem like such common sense! Especially this part. The end of Matthew chapter 6, verses 31 through 34.

God, why on earth do I keep on borrowing trouble? I know, I know. You tell me, in no uncertain terms, not to focus on tomorrow. And I am not to become preoccupied with yesterday, either. It’s like that acquaintance of mine who told me the other day, “It’s like my grandma said: ‘we can look back at yesterday, but don’t stare.’” Lord, ain’t it the truth?

If I get caught up in yesterday, or preoccupied with what might happen tomorrow, I can miss out on today! One day at a time living! Isn’t that what You suggest? Each day has concerns enough of its own. My marching orders from You could not be clearer, from the last verse of this passage. Live one day at a time: today. I want to believe Your promises, where You said You’d never leave me nor forsake me. I do, God! I do believe.

Thanks for the confirmation. Live one day at a time. That’s sufficient. You’ll take care of the rest. And you’ll take care of me, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes I really get afraid. Or anxious. Or angry. Or a little bit of all of them. God, sometimes I feel like I’m near the end of my rope, or like my short fuse is burnt almost all the way to the end. Thank You for these very clear words from Matthew, God. You instruct me not to worry. Don’t borrow trouble! Thanks for these straight-forward ideas. Help me remember them. Daily. Even hourly. When I need You most. Thanks again. Amen.