Tag Archives: anxious

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 5, 2017

Psa 119-5 steadfast ways, bible

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s devotional writing is often heartfelt, sometimes earnest. As I make my way through this anthology of briefer devotional writings, I am struck again and again by phrases used in a particularly apt way. Or, some word or phrase Bonhoeffer might mention convicts me—sneaking up on me in an unexpected manner.

It was that way with Bonhoeffer’s commentary on verse 5 of Psalm 119:

Oh, that my ways were made so direct

That I might keep Your statutes!

The first point he addressed was the difference between wishes and prayers. “One proceeds from our need as we ourselves understand it, the other proceeds from our need as God has taught us to see it. The one is desperate and demanding, the other is humble and confident.” [1] Ah, such a difference. Some might imagine it to be subtle. However, the more I think about it, the more I tend to think that needy people who wish for things might just be anxious and fearful, possibly oblivious of others, or angry with life—perhaps even secretly disappointed or angry with themselves.

Ah, but prayer? People who pray? Bonhoeffer contrasts these needy, desperate ones with humble people who request from God in confidence, with (some) patience, and above all, knowing that God’s ways are sure, direct and straight. What a contrast. What conviction sneaks up on my heart, knowing that I am—occasionally—a whiny brat, throwing a tantrum before my Heavenly Father. (Dear Lord, I am sorry. I really, really am. I will try my best to do better. Truly.)

But, wait! Bonhoeffer has more for us in this commentary! “Out of the crooked and twisted a straight way shall emerge, which is not ‘blocked and made crooked by human doctrine’ (Luther). God’s statutes alone remain firm, drawn up by Him for all times.” [2] Here he quotes from Martin Luther. Yes, faulty people can botch things up. Even well-meaning pastors and theologians can goof and get things wrong. If people keep their eyes on God’s Word, and search out God’s ways, then a straight path can emerge. It is not always easy, but it is almost always clearly marked.

Dear God, You so clearly mark the way I am to travel with You. Thank You for Your Word, Your statutes, and Your confidence that You offer so freely. Help me—help us all to receive Your Word with gratitude. 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 107.

[2] Ibid, 108.

Be Present in Prayer

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

lily-and-lily-pads-mindful

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.

@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), 82.

[2] Ibid.

Calm Amidst the Storm, Praying

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, January 6, 2017

 

waves-storm_drawing

Calm Amidst the Storm, Praying

As I was reading the slim book “How to Sit” this evening, I was struck by the analogy given. Of anxious people on board a boat, at sea, in the middle of a storm. And, one person’s calm demeanor became what calmed the whole boatload of passengers.

I don’t want to bend over backwards to pat myself on the back, but I have noticed that I am that person, sometimes. I have a calm, less-anxious presence, at times. (I’ve noticed this, and so have my former chaplain supervisors.) Whether in a health care setting, or a funeral home, or in a tense situation outside the church, sometimes I help to bring a bit of calmness and serenity into an anxious or awkward or scary or angry situation.

When I considered this attitude lifted up by the book earlier this evening, I did not pray all that much. Instead, I found myself reflecting on this kind of attitude. A calm, less-anxious kind of attitude. I really do thank God that I can be that person, sometimes. I know I have been trained as a chaplain, and trained to express that kind of attitude, but some of it is natural.

I am so glad I have gravitated to a line of work where I can express these kinds of attitudes and talents. I know I need to continue to keep my attitudes and actions sharp, and be certain of continuing to reach out in care and concern. God willing, those will be the kinds of things that others will help me in doing. I pray that some here will work with me, so we all can support each other. One day at a time. (God, thank You!)

@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

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.

@chaplaineliza

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

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 26, 2015

THANKFUL today I'm thankful

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Today was Thanksgiving: a day when America traditionally gives thanks to God. Today’s reading in the daily meditation book Keep It Simple also involved turning life over to God as I understand God.

I just read some heartbreaking and honest Facebook posts where a few acquaintances of mine legitimately had difficulty doing both of those things today.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

True, there were (and are) various things happening in each of these families. With wide and varied situations with many family gatherings. Still more with volatile or even explosive verbal confrontations. Some with lonely, anxious people gathering together over a meal ladled out at a shelter or a church basement. And then, those with sad and grieving people in sad and desperate straits.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Yet, today was another day where many, many people worldwide successfully stayed clean and sober. Through anxious circumstances, even though they were sorely tempted, or amidst incredible grief and sadness. Many, many people successfully turned their lives and wills over to the care of their Higher Power. Just for today. One day at a time.

Another day clean and sober. Another day following God as I understand God.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at http://www.matterofprayer.net

Praying the Lord’s Prayer Again

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 28, 2015

Our Father who art in heaven - colorful

Praying the Lord’s Prayer Again

I prayed the prayer our Lord taught us, this evening. I suspect you know which one. The prayer that starts, “Our Father, Who art in heaven.” This prayer was one of the oldest I ever learned. I’m not exactly sure, but my grandmother may have taught it to me.

Things get fuzzy when I try to remember back that far. Not that I have lots of negative memories, but they’re just not the clearest.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, lived with us for a few years when I was small. The thing was, my grandmother had started having the mini-strokes. Transitory Ischemic Attacks. She would periodically have these, and her mind would slowly—slowly get eaten away.

I still have vivid images I can recall. Mental snapshots of my grandmother. I can see her sitting in front of the black-and-white television in the living room, watching the Catholic Mass early on Sunday mornings. She’d have her Rosary clasped in her hands. She loved going to Mass, and received such encouragement and comfort from the prayers.

As can I. (The encouragement and comfort from God, part.)

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for giving us such a marvelous prayer. Thank You for this gift. I kind-of know how difficult it is for many people, but I thank You that You come alongside of each one. I can remember when my Grammy was particularly anxious, and the words of this prayer calmed her right down. And, this is repeated so often, all over the world. You care for each of us deeply. Thanks so much, Lord!

@chaplaineliza

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

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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

Have Mercy Upon Us, Lord

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, August 24, 2015

kyrie notes

Have Mercy Upon Us, Lord

I rummaged around the Church of England’s prayer and worship website this evening. Lo and behold, I found several fascinating tidbits. Like, the part about Evening Prayer, also known as Compline. Or, one of the Divine Offices (or, services).

“The ancient office of Compline derives its name from a Latin word meaning ‘completion’ (completorium). It is above all a service of quietness before the rest at the end of the day.” [1] Quiet, completion. Sounds like just the ticket to me.

I was particularly wondering about a centuries-old section found in many prayers and services: the Kyrie. Yes, I have been meaning to look into this part of the Evening Service (which I view at http://www.dailyoffice.org ). The part about the Kyrie Eleison. Webster’s definition of KYRIE: ‘a short liturgical prayer that begins with or consists of the words “Lord, have mercy.”’

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Repeated three times with a variation, this ancient prayer encompasses the deepest cry of many hearts.

Just as the Apostle Paul mentions in Romans 8, sometimes we have no words when we pray. And, sometimes the Holy Spirit prays for us, and interprets those groanings for us. And, sometimes, the Kyrie does the same thing. I know I have used the Kyrie in just that way, all the way down to groaning and groveling on the floor. (Or, the chair, or wherever I was sitting.)

Thank You, Lord, for coming to my rescue in time of great need. Thank You, Lord, for sending the Holy Spirit to interpret my groanings that are too deep for words. And, thank You, Lord, for listening to me whenever I need You, whenever I am feeling rotten or scared or anxious. Thank You for listening.

@chaplaineliza

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

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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] https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/join-us-in-daily-prayer/introduction-to-daily-prayer.aspx