Tag Archives: Bible

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 21, 2017

Psa 42 deer, soul

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

I haven’t ever been in a desert. I haven’t ever been really, truly thirsty. However, I know much of the land where the Bible was written is either desert or semi-arid. Lots of people in the Bible were seriously thirsty, some more often than not.

Yet, Psalm 42 talks about thirst on at least two levels. Yes, actual, physical thirst. The kind that is a physical need. However, the psalm also speaks of thirsting after God. “As the deer longs for the water brooks…” The psalmist’s soul is thirsting after God, after some knowledge of the Almighty. Yes, even thirsting after the close relationship with God.

Do I do that? Can I say that I have a close relationship with You, O God?

With Dietrich Bonhoeffer I earnestly pray, “Lord God, awaken in my soul a great longing for You. You know me and I know You. Help me to seek You and to find You. Amen.” [1]

Along with the sons of Korah, I can readily say that my soul is athirst for the Lord. Sometimes.

Lord, why am I so wishy-washy? I only too well know, as Bonhoeffer says, “the thirst of our passion for life and good fortune.” [2] From time to time, I even cringe when I think of how I have left You behind, thoughtlessly tossed You aside to go after my own affairs and interests.

Dear Lord, forgive me. Help me to amend my ways. Help all of us to walk in Your ways. 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), 55.

[2] Ibid.

The Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bible, open

The Word of God and Meditation

Next, this anthology moves to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. The two men had many interests in common, including theology. They did not see eye to eye, as far as theology in general (and especially of Christian life and practice) was concerned. Small wonder that they “feuded,” as Bonhoeffer gently kids his brother-in-law.

“First, I want to confess quite simply that I believe the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we only need to ask persistently and with some humility in order to receive the answer from it.” [1]

Bonhoeffer does not think we ought to read the Bible as we read other books. No, some read the Bible in a way that depends strongly on textual criticism. Bonhoeffer suggests that a good way to read the Bible is to concentrate on what is within the book, not just on the surface.

“When a dear friend speaks a word to us, do we subject it to analysis? No, we simply accept it, and then it resonates inside us for days.” [2] He urges his readers to ponder the word—the Bible—in one’s own heart, and ruminate on it.

This is not the first time I have read this anthology. No, while I was in seminary I read this book, and used it for a text for prayer and meditation. Since I feel so strongly about the Bible (both old and new Testaments), this approach to the Word of God comes quite naturally to me. What a wonderful thing, finding someone who feels similarly (and strongly, in the same way) about the Bible!.

Dear God, help me to read the Bible more faithfully Please, help me focus more closely on Your Words, just as I would read a letter from a dear friend. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my 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), 35.

[2] Ibid.

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