Tag Archives: anxiety

Prayer: An Expression of Hope

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 9, 2018

HOPE scrabble

Prayer: An Expression of Hope

Depression, fear, worry, anxiety. When these things creep into my life, I feel like I am suddenly walking through chest-high water. It can be so difficult to get through a day, even an hour. I have friends and relatives who deal with depression and anxiety, too. Yes, it can be more than a challenge to keep one’s head above water.

When Father Nouwen quoted from Bertold Brecht, I felt the words deep inside. Because—sometimes I feel that way. Not as much as before, but still, sometimes. Here is the quote:

“As it is, it will stay/What we want will never come.” [1]

Life without prayer, life without hope—that is what those words reflected inside of me. Father Nouwen said, “If you believe this way, life stands still. Spiritually, you are dead. There can be life and there can be movement only when you no longer accept things as they are now, and you look ahead toward that which is not yet.” [2]

That is hope. That is what can be, if we believe in prayer. Although, prayer seems to be more about asking than about hoping.

When I have hope somewhere inside of me (no matter how deep it is), I have more ability to go forward. I have dragged myself along when I have been in deep depression, or filled with fear or anxiety. At times, it has been a difficult journey. (Like walking through chest-high water.. But, I repeat myself.)

Thank God I know that God always has ears wide open to my cries, and arms ready to receive me when I stumble and fall into them. Dear Lord, help me to have hope. Hope in prayer, and hope in You and Your faithfulness. Help me to believe, to hope, and to pray more easily.

Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 39.

[2] Ibid.

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 18, 2017

compassion heart

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Adolfo Quezada is a licensed professional counselor in California. He has published several books, and is a loving, caring, supportive counselor. He specializes particularly in depression, anxiety, grief and trauma. He also leads prayer retreats.

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Quezada is all for letting go of what happened in people’s individual lives. There is the negative side: things people have said, done or thought. Quezada recommends: “Make restitution as best you can in ways that bring healing and restore harmony to your life and lives of those you have hurt.” [1]

I read Quezada’s profound statement, “When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness.” [2] This is truly life-changing, for some people. People who feel that whatever they might have done was so terribly awful that God would never forgive them, and—guess what? God really will forgive us. Even more so than flawed parents who sometimes interfere with their children and even reject them, God will never, ever reject us.

Then, I noticed this gut-wrenching statement: “Reconsider your expectations. Examine the demands you make on yourself. Are they realistic? What do you base them on?” [3] Ah, so painful. So much pain in these few words. God will help us all with those faulty, unrealistic expectations. We all can gain access to God’s immeasurable, bountiful love and mercy.

I can—we all can—experience God’s love. Generous and unconditional. Do you feel unworthy? Or, perhaps, disgruntled at someone, so you have something blocking you from God’s love? Nevertheless, God loves you. Abundantly, immeasurably, marvelously, God’s love lasts forever. Amazing love and grace and mercy.  Alleluia.

@chaplaineliza

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), 246.

[2] Ibid, 247.

[3] Ibid.

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matt 6-31 worry word cloud

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

I just love Martin Luther. Perhaps it is because I was baptized, confirmed, and brought up in the Lutheran Church. Perhaps it was because I read some of Martin Luther’s writings in high school, as well as a biography and several church history books about him. (So, yes. I do know a few things about Martin.)

It was with great joy that I read this selection from Martin’s writings on the Sermon on the Mount, specifically 6:25-34.

I considered Martin’s heartfelt, plain-spoken words to hit the nail on the head: “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting [God] and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more….When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people….Here you have another example and analogy; according to it, the little flowers in the field, which cattle trample and eat, are to become our theologians and masters and to embarrass us still further.” [1]

Yes, I felt the sting of Martin Luther’s words. (I think his words were supposed to sting!) Yes, sting, and convict our hearts. When Martin finally comes around to verses 31 and 32 (“Now let these illustrations persuade you to lay aside your anxiety and your unbelief and to remember that you are Christians and not heathen.”), suddenly it is as if the sun has come out, flowers bloom and birds sing gaily. “[God] will not forsake you. He is faithful and willing to take special care of you Christians, because as has been said, He cares for the birds of the air as well.” [2]

Talk about having faith and trust in simplicity! Martin Luther had it in abundance. When I feel as if the anxiety or stress is growing by leaps and bounds, I can halt, quiet myself internally, take stock, and try to calm myself. Center myself. Breathe, slow down, and loosen up the tight muscles, shoulders and back. It really does help to make things more manageable. (Can I get an “amen” to that?)

Dear Lord, thank You for this wonderful example. Thank You for reminding me about Martin Luther, and about his view of scripture and of faith and trust. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

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), 122.

[2] Ibid, 124.

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 6, 2017

 

happiness-in-sand

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

What an outrageous thought—feeling joy and happiness while praying. Or…is it?

Not according to the author of How to Sit, Buddhist monk and meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The way he talks about it, feeling joy and happiness is a natural outgrowth of regularly practicing meditation and prayer.

All I know is I am able to tap into calmness and (even) serenity sometimes when I pray and meditate, now. Sure, I still have regular bouts with fear and anxiety. I can’t imagine a single person who does not. Welcome to the human condition. However, I am able to calm down that fear and anxiety, and more often than not relax into calmness, slowed breathing, and legitimate peace of mind. Really. Really and truly.

Now, going the next step and feeling joy and happiness, on a regular basis? Not so much.

As How to Sit says, relaxing and calming the body is a wonderful thing to do. Except, he connects being relaxed and calm with experiencing joy and happiness. [1] This is a challenging next step for me to do.

As this page mentions, “Countless people bounce around like yo-yos in their busy lives and never have the chance to taste this joy.” [2] However, I can take heart in the fact that I don’t have hours each day to sit in prayer and meditation, since “a few moments of sitting and conscious breathing can bring great happiness.”

Contentment? Peace? Certainly. I’ve experienced it. But, happiness and joy? I guess I’ll have to keep practicing until I do. That’s okay. I have a great love for these practices. So awesome! I guess there is always something more to learn. Again, that is perfectly okay.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thanks for bringing this reading to my attention. Thanks to our author, and much appreciation for his offer of support and encouragement. Thank you! And, go, us!

 

 

 

@chaplaineliza

 

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), 51.

[2] Ibid.

Breathe, Center, Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, January 14, 2017

bench-snow-water

Breathe, Center, Pray.

Breathe. Just breathe. Big breath in, big breath out. Slowly.

This suggestion works for so many things. When you are afraid or fearful. Or, when you feel anxiety creeping up to get you. Perhaps, if you are angry and you need to cool down. Or, when you would like to calm yourself and focus.

As I said, this really does work. Slowing the breath seems to lengthen out time. Another suggestion? Keep track of your breaths. Slowly, slowly. Don’t cry or speed up or—especially—if you wish to find calmness, stillness, serenity, even.

If we pay attention to breathing, we can get down to the very foundation of life. The overarching principle remains the same.

Breathe. Calm yourself. Slow down and let yourself fill with all good things as you breathe in. Slow down further, breathe out, and let go of all anxiety, fear, anger. Let go, and breathe out everything negative.

Now you are in a much better place to connect with God. Reaching your Higher Power can happen at any time, true. However, breathing deeply, in and out, certainly helps us to center and concentrate.

Now, center. Now, pray. Now, serenity. Thanks, God.

@chaplaineliza

 

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

In Which I Serve at a Blue Christmas Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 14, 2016

blue-christmas-snowflake

In Which I Serve at a Blue Christmas Service

This evening was the Blue Christmas service at my sister church, Epiphany UCC in Chicago. Touching service. So effective, in many ways.

This quiet time in the church happened to occur on one of the coldest evenings that I’ve experienced for a long time. We had a small congregation. I do hope they received a blessing from the service.

It was a challenge to lead worship and to deliver several readings tonight, especially since my father-in-law died on Monday. Yes, I could relate to feelings of grief, fear and anxiety, anger—I could feel them, strongly.

There were two parts in the service that were particularly poignant: candle-lighting, and writing names on ornaments. Any members in the congregation who wished to, could come forward .

So, could we support grieving people? What about people who have lost a dear one? What about people who are overwhelmed by all the rushing of the holidays?  And, refugee families? They all need support and encouragement. i

Dear Lord, gracious God, bless all those who are hurting and grieving this evening. Give them comfort and support. Encourage all who mourn or are hungry or who are overwhelmed. Thank You for walking at our sides, for praying with us, and being Holy Comforter for those in need of comfort. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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

Prayers of Thanksgiving? Wonderful Peace Breakfast!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, October 21, 2016

 

breakfast-shot-3-eric-ponders

(Photo Credit: Eric Ponders, The North Shore Voice) (www.FaceBook.com/MGVoice)

Prayers of Thanksgiving? Wonderful Peace Breakfast!

 

Ever have one of those days? Or, weeks? Maybe even, one of those months? Yeah—me, too. When I invited many of the same village and religious leaders to a second Peace Breakfast, some of them told me that they unfortunately could not attend. The past few weeks have been extremely busy—for everyone!

We met again, this morning. We met, again, to talk about next steps towards peace, friendship, and cooperation, in this wonderful and diverse suburb of Chicago. And, we came up with some great ideas!

Some backstory: several people around the table pointed out that there was a good deal of fear, anxiety, and general uncertainty in portions of the population in our area. How can we reach out to them, in a proactive, useful and needed way?

As one local media member (Eric Ponders) reported, “Proactive initiatives for community outreach were discussed, including strategic plans, combining resources, more encompassing events with multiple communities, pooling our resources – potentially programming as well as funding, creating a grass roots initiative, communication strategies for outreach and facilitation & more!”

Yes, looking at what we discussed, we could say that we discussed public health. Alternatively, we could say we discussed funding and community strategy. I prefer to look at it another way. The village and religious leaders gathered there discussed ways to lower fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; we discussed ways to promote family- and community-building, finding ways to work together across neighborhoods, villages, and townships.

Did we find ways to pursue peace? Promote friendship and harmony in the midst of a very diverse population in our area? I think we did. So, YES. This morning’s Peace Breakfast was a wonderful next step, indeed.

Thanks, God! A great, big praise to You for Your assistance.

(Thanks as well to Eric Ponders, who is also known as North Shore Voice.)
@chaplaineliza

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