Tag Archives: Bible

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@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), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

Starting to Meditate on the Word

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 1, 2017

sit in pew, praying

Starting to Meditate on the Word

It’s June. It’s the start of the summer season. I will begin my summer sermon series the week after Pentecost (this coming Sunday). Plus, I just finished the anthology compiled by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics. I wondered about another book I could go through in a similar way to the anthology, and I found one that seems to speak to me. This new book is also an anthology of sorts: a collection of short writings by theologian, professor and pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer.

Meditating on the Word was translated by David McI. Gracie. As we will see over the next weeks, reading the Bible was a source of devotion to Bonhöffer. He not only studied and interpreted the Bible, and heard the words of the Bible in worship services, but he found great comfort and meaning in praying, using the words of the Bible. He considered such reading and meditating on the words of the Bible another means of grace. (God-sent, and God-given.)

As Gracie mentions in his introduction, meditative reading of the Bible led Bonhöffer to prayer on a regular basis. “The Bible was the school of prayer for Bonhöffer, a school in which we learn the language of God, and ‘repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to God.’” [1]

I read this book in depth some years ago, and tried to practice prayerful meditation on a regular schedule. Studying this book was so good for me. Once more, I look forward to practicing prayer and meditation using the Word of God.

“In examining these unfinished pieces, …we may feel freer to pick up hints and insights that fit with the broken pieces of our own life and worship.” [2] I hope and pray that this book serves as a regular help to others as they meditate and pray, too. Dear Lord, help all of us as we pray.

@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), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

J.B. Phillips’s Take on Study

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 16, 2017

bible studies, bible

 

J.B. Phillips’s Take on Study

I love J.B. Phillips’s modern translation of the New Testament.

He was an Anglican clergyman in wartime London who was concerned about young people, and how they could not relate to the antiquated language of the Bible. So, he translated a few letters of the New Testament into contemporary language. Encouraged by the reactions to his translations, he went on the translate the entire New Testament. [1]

I was particularly interested in Rev. Phillips’s personal appreciation for the translation process. Having done a bit of translation myself (from the Greek), I’ve gotten a taste for how exciting and enlightening it can be! Translation led him on “a personal journey of discovery…[he was] delighted to get in closer touch with first-century Christians. He also [was] glad that he can bring his readers closer to Jesus Christ.” [2]

I’d like to highlight one “serendipity” that J.B. Phillips lifts up, in his personal testimony. On translating 1 John 1:20, Rev. Phillips found himself needing to step back. “…there may be many factors in our lives for which we are not really to blame at all. We did not choose our heredity; we did not choose the bad, indifferent, or excellent way in which we were brought up….It is almost as if John is saying, ‘If God loves us, who are we to be so high and mighty as to refuse to love ourselves?’” [3]

What a striking insight. This really causes me to thank God yet again that I am His follower. Not a blind follower, heedlessly following, lurching along, but following God using my intellect, my senses, and my insights. (Also, using others’ insights, gleaned from decades of study.)

How amazing is God’s Word. Thank You, God, for the awesome majesty of Your Word, the Bible. Help us read, chew, ruminate, digest, and comprehend Your word. In Your name we pray.

@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), 93.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 95.

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, September 21, 2015

LORD OF LORDS Handel's hallelujah-chorus

Center on Lord of Lords—Forever and Ever.

“And He shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”

That’s where I started with this Name of God. My word—Name of God for today is Lord of Lords. As soon as I began to center, I heard George Frederic Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” playing in my head. Not for too long. Only for a few minutes, but what a stirring beginning!

I transitioned into reflecting on the Name of God I chose. I almost chose “Lord.” Simply “Lord.” However, I know that “Lord” is not a name exclusive to God. It is also used in the Bible for people of a higher rank, or to whom people would like to show deference or even reverence. (Like God.) I wanted to choose a name that was used solely for God. That’s why I picked “Lord of Lords” for my Centering Prayer today.

Revelation 19:16 is the verse that is used for a portion of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” ‘On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”’ I was able to focus on “Lord of Lords,” and rest in that Name of God. Sporadically. My thoughts were still active, and still bounced around a bit from thing to thing. But all in all, I concentrated on—rested in the Name of God I chose for today.

Dear God, Lord of Lords, thank You for a good time of prayer. Thank You for Your kindness and grace towards me.

@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

Center on Gift of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, September 9, 2015

GIFT OF GOD present

Center on Gift of God

Today’s Name of God surprised me. Almost shocked me, even. Not the Name, itself, but where it was located. The situation where I found it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve committed to Centering Prayer each day in September. And, to aid me in this prayer method, I’m choosing a Name of God found in the Bible. I’m using that for my word of the day. My word—Name of God for today is Gift of God.

I had quickly glanced at my list of Names of God (and there are quite a lot of them!). This was as I settled and quieted myself to pray. I noted that “Gift of God” was found in the Gospel of John, and then I started in to pray. I had a peaceful time of prayer, with occasional thoughts of Jesus handing me a wrapped present, or looking at a table piled with presents (almost like at a wedding reception or something). I felt open, receptive, and it was a good time of prayer.

However—after my time of prayer when I checked out exactly where the Name of God came from, I saw right away it was included in the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. John chapter 4. “10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

I find the Gospel of John fascinating. How John uses such simple, straight-forward language to get across such deep thoughts! Here in verse 10, the Gift of God could mean a metaphorical gift. Or, Jesus could be referring to Himself. (As this list of Names of God suggests.) Regardless, this phrase makes a fruitful foundation on which to pray and meditate.

Thank You for my times of Centering Prayer. Thank You for the phrase “Gift of God.”

@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

Our Father, Who Art—Centering.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lord's Prayer word cloud Matt 6

Our Father, Who Art—Centering.

For today, I chose a Name of God from the Bible that is not only traditional, but some might say even old-fashioned. This is my word of the day for Centering Prayer. My word—Name of God for today is Father.

I chose this Name as it’s from one of the most familiar passages in the Gospels. Even perhaps the whole Bible. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 6, where our Lord Jesus gives His disciples and the others listening to Him a template for prayer. Jesus opens with, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”

I grew up with this term for God. I attended a Lutheran church in elementary school through high school. Every Sunday we would say the Lord’s Prayer as part of the service. The pastor would refer to God as “Our Heavenly Father,” and this way of referencing God was so familiar to me.

Fast forward more than twenty years. I was married, with small children. I tried to be faithful in how God called me, and so I tried to pray on a regular basis. I remember questioning how I referred to God in prayer, but only mild questions.

Go forward a bit more, and I found myself in seminary. Second year, I was having considerable difficulty with some outside issues. (Not with school. I loved seminary!) However, I remember having particular difficulty with calling God “Father.” In fact, I could not bring myself to say the Lord’s Prayer out loud, since I had so much of a problem with using the Name “Father.” I did not want to lose sight of the feminine half of God, and I struggled with that expression and Name of God almost all year long.

Now, present day. Things continue to evolve. I try not to use gender often as I use Names of God. But, I need to consider this Name again for this particular prayer time. I taught an adult bible study at the beginning of the summer on the Lord’s Prayer, and I talked about “Father.” How unusual it was for Jesus to use this Name for God Almighty. It showed intimacy, love, and caring. Not only from Jesus to His Heavenly Father. No, the intimacy, love and caring were (are?) a two-way street.

Praise God that God has revealed Godself to me so freely, and with so much love and intimacy. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:9. our Heavenly Father. Thank You, Lord. You love me as Your child. You carry me like a beloved toddler! You really do. Thank You. Amen.

@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

Day One, Centering Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ABBA Father

Day One, Centering Prayer

I sort of knew this day would come. The day I started Centering Prayer for one month. I’ve done contemplative prayer before. I’ve used Centering Prayer before. However, I never made the commitment to practice Centering Prayer each day, for one solid month.

Since I am by nature so focused on words and on text, I couldn’t just do wordless prayer—not for a whole month. I know myself, and I couldn’t hack it. I knew I wanted to try to do Centering Prayer, though, in my year of praying every day. So, I found a way to manage it, pretty well. And, I am taking my instructions from a wonderful instructor: Fr. Thomas Keating.

For the month of September, I will take a name of God found in the Bible, and use that for my word of the day. Since I am urged to choose a word (or, Name) as the symbol of my “intention to consent to God’s presence and action within,” [1] I thought that a help like that would assist me in my prayer. Hey, I need all the help I can get.

My word—Name of God for today is Abba. Daddy, or Papa. The intimate name for God, the Heavenly Father. In both letters to the Romans and to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul mentions “Abba, Father!” In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, Jesus refers in prayer to “Abba, Father!”

I could not get very far today, in centering myself. Sorry, God. I tried. I hope for better things tomorrow. You said You honor faithfulness. I was that. I strove to be faithful. Thanks for being there with me. I know You were.

@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

[1] http://www.cpt.org/files/WS%20-%20Centering%20Prayer.pdf