Tag Archives: challenge

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

When I think about Ignatian prayer, the first thing that comes to mind is using my imagination. My “imagining cap” is never very far away, and I find imagining is often a fairly easy thing for me to do—to think and to pray in a way that invites imagination.

As Father Gallagher describes Ignatian contemplation, he says it is very much tied to the spiritual imagination. However, he also stresses personal reflection.

Is it that I am becoming more reflective as I find myself in my middle years, or is it my middle years that make me more reflective? I can sit and contemplate and pray at the drop of a hat, it seems. I mean, contemplate and pray for a half hour at a time now. In my thirties, that used to be much more of a challenge. Has my life and activities slowed down? I tend not to think so. Have I slowed down more, internally? Spiritually? Slowed myself down to the speed of contemplative prayer and meditation? Or, is it that I am finding more ease in the act of contemplation and prayer? Perhaps so. I am not sure which, but—perhaps.

Father Timothy describes the three steps of Ignatian contemplation in bullet points:

  • I see the persons
  • I hear the words
  • I observe the actions

“The process by which I imaginatively see the person, hear he words, and observe the actions of a Gospel [or, to speak more broadly, of a Biblical] scene, participating personally in the event, is Ignatian contemplation.” [1] He then addresses the questions that may come up as a matter of course: “Can I be personally active in the scene? Can I trust that God’s grace will operate in this imaginative approach? How can I know it is not ‘just my imagination?’” [2]

I can still vividly remember instances when I did use my imagination, and Ignatian prayer and contemplation. It was some years ago when the most vivid time happened. Yes, it is real. Yes, I can remember it with crystal clarity—and that does not happen very often at all.

Dear Lord, help me to practice Ignatian prayer and contemplation more often. I want to encounter You in a more intimate way, a way I have not been experiencing lately in my prayer times. Thank You for those times of prayer in the past. May I—may we experience more of You, Your heart, Your love for us and for others. In Your Son’s precious name we 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

Challenge of Morning Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 22, 2017

sunrise over the mountains

Challenge of Morning Meditation

I am not a morning-kind-of-a-person. Yes, I can get up early in the morning. I have served as an overnight chaplain and had to be up at all hours. However, my deep desire and dear preference is one of sleeping in my bed. Getting a full night’s sleep.

In this new chapter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells the seminarians (from the secret seminary) about morning meditation and prayer. He not only sings the praises of regular meditation and prayer, but he also suggests ways in which those who meditate actually reach God.

“Every morning God gives us the gift of comprehending anew his faithfulness of old; thus, in the midst of our life with God, we may daily begin a new life with him.” [1]

Bonhoeffer gave a whole list of instances and examples in the Bible where prayer and meditation are specifically mentioned as taking place in the morning. “The people of faith woke early because of their expectation of God’s marvelous acts (Gen. 19:27, Ex. 24:4, Job 1:5). Sleep no longer holds them. They rush to greet the early grace of God.” [2]

The early grace of God…why do I not sync with this? Now, the grace of God that is up late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, that I do sync with. Somehow, I have problems in waking up early in the morning for meditation and prayer.

I know so many people who write books and articles about prayer, and almost all of them recommend prayer early in the morning. I am so sorry, God. I cannot seem to do this, even occasionally.

Dear God, thanks for loving me, and being patient with me.

@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), 29.

[2] Ibid.

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 8, 2017

pray-blocks

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

When I slow down and get ready for prayer and meditation, I sometimes find myself automatically loosening up my shoulders, taking slow and even deep breaths, settling myself comfortably, or turning my head gradually from side to side. All this is my way of getting ready.

Thich Nhat Hanh has similar advice for his readers: “Set aside a room or a corner or a cushion that you use just for sitting. When you arrive there, you will immediately begin to feel some of the joy and relaxation that comes from sitting.” [1]

Relaxation and calmness are with me, and a part of me, most of the time now when I pray. However, I sometimes still find it difficult to generate the joy that the monk talks about here in this section from the book How to Sit. This is one of my current challenges, I know. (I am working on it.)

Gracious God, this quote reminds me of what joy and happiness can be found in prayer and meditation…Thich Nhat Hanh shows it so clearly. I know I ought to strive for that same joy. But—I feel the challenge. I realize this is difficult for me. Heck, I really am excited about feeling relaxed and calm most times, when I pray! (Much less feeling joy. One step at a time. That is what I keep telling myself.) Dear God, help me to persevere. And, thanks for the wonderful, unexplored world of prayer. I know I’ve just gotten started, in prayer. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 53.

Gathering Worship, Community Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 15, 2016

family-of-god

Gathering Worship, Community Prayer

Today was a wonderful gathering. Great time of fellowship, heartfelt time of worship. Inspiring time for community-building.

The friends at the Fall Gathering had the privilege to hear Father Michael Pfleger. The information I received about Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger? “Self-described as ‘pastor, preacher, parent, lecturer, activist,’ Father Pfleger is well-known throughout the country as an outspoken advocate for racial justice and outspoken critic of the systemic violence which plagues Chicago and our nation.”

Was his address a challenge to his listeners? Yes, certainly. A challenge for social justice. Did Father Pfleger’s talk veer into the realm of the sermon from time to time? Of course. The realm of the abundant, overflowing love of God for all. Did we hear a prophetic voice today? Oh, my. Yes, indeed. Talk about a voice crying out in the wilderness. Father Pfleger was all that.

As he spoke, I could feel the power and the urgency in his message, advocating for “the least of these.” Crying out for those who had no voice.

Whether you agree or disagree with Father Pfleger’s political stance, I suspect anyone who heard his words understood his passion, his love and caring for those he spoke for. And yes, I do respect him incredibly for everything he stands for.

God bless Father Pfleger, and bless his parish. Bless the friends he talks with and those he prays with. Bless those he ministers to, and bless his family. And—bless his work in racial justice, and especially his work for the least of these. The children, babies, women, the elderly, the infirm, and those others who have no voice. Dear 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

PEACE – Happiness with Your Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 19, 2016

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PEACE – Happiness with Your Life

Today’s definition comes from a woman I can only describe as bubbly. Effervescent. Excited about life and living. Therefore, I can hardly be surprised by her personal definition of PEACE.

Teri Collins’s definition of PEACE is happiness with your life.

Happiness can be fleeting. Yet, as I think of Teri, I can see how she connects peace and happiness so closely. Yes, life is a challenge sometimes. Yes, life can hand you lemons sometimes. However, if a person has an underlying happiness in their life, the bumps and challenges on the road through life are navigable.

Dr. Teri Collins, Ph.D., works with young people. She is engaging as well as engaged in the lives of the youth she is with. She also seems to have boundless energy. Teri is the Executive Director of the Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation (MYCAF), a nonprofit organization that connects youth with families and the community. She gets involved in young people’s lives in a variety of helping-ways, including mental, emotional and psychological health, and alcohol and drug awareness and prevention.

Today happens to be a bonus. Today is a special display, featuring a second definition. This comes from Hailey Reis, current university student and intern at MYCAF. Hailey’s definition is simple: PEACE is love. Hailey is correct, too! When an individual shows love, often their heart cannot help but slow down. Get peaceful.

Thank God there are a number of different definitions of peace. I appreciate knowing many different viewpoints. I want to encourage other people to continue this conversation! God willing, many people of different ages and from different areas will share their personal definitions of PEACE.

IMG_0137

@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

Prayer and the Discipline of Community

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, December 4, 2015

people diverse fellowship in the church

Prayer and the Discipline of Community

Everyone needs someone. I don’t care who it is, each person needs some other person (or, persons) to relate to. To be with. To give and express love, caring and sharing. Henri Nouwen calls this the Discipline of Community.

I was previously unfamiliar with this particular Discipline. The more familiar, general Spiritual Disciplines I am familiar with, true. (To a greater or lesser extent, depending on the Discipline.) Except, this one was new for me.

The concepts of talking and walking with others, spending time in each other’s company, and especially of physical contact—free hugs, anyone?—all of these have been studied in recent years by research studies on both the social science and public health sides as well as the medical side. Physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically? Even spiritually. In every way, as Fr. Nouwen says, “I need people to love me and care for me.” [1] [emphasis mine]

Yes, while He was here on earth, Jesus gathered a band of people around Him. The named disciples, but more than that. Mary, Martha, their brother Lazarus, Mary Magdalen, the other Mary, Salome. Even some of the healed people, the formerly demonized, those with their sight and hearing and full range of motion restored to them, miraculously—some of these came into Jesus’s circle. All kinds of people, from all different walks of life, gathered around Jesus.

This reading today makes me wonder: are my friends diverse? Or, are they all monochromatic? All white-bread? Do I “reach out and touch” my friends and acquaintances? Am I open to their touch? Do I welcome their smiles, their words? Difficult thoughts, and hard words, indeed.

Dear Lord, thank You for convicting me and bringing this important challenge to my attention. For, it is indeed a challenge. Encourage me to be a good small group member, and good member of my congregation. So, help me, 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

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 12.

God, Stir the Soil in Me

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chicago Botanic Garden - credit Kevin Jones

Chicago Botanic Garden – credit Kevin Jones

God, Stir the Soil in Me

I have long had a heart for God. Long had obedience, trust and love been on my mind. I wanted to run after God in my teenage years, but I didn’t know exactly how. (I did struggle through, but not following as well as I wished I had, in retrospect.)

So, as I read the prayers in this section, some of them reach deep, deep down within me. To a much younger me. I cry out, from a distant, deep-down place. Lord, Lord! Here I am! Choose me! Send me! Help me to serve You through service to others!

Yes, today’s prayer is about Obedience. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Thy Will Be Done” (Prayer 267, pages 88-89) [1] There were so many prayers. So many moving words, so many heartfelt cries to You, God! But, I am going to place the prayer I ultimately chose, here.

“God, stir the soil,/Run the ploughshare deep,/Cut the furrows round and round,/Overturn the hard, dry ground,/Spare no strength nor toil,/Even though I weep.

“In the loose, fresh mangled earth/Sow new seed./Free of withered vine and weed/Bring fair flowers to birth.” (a prayer from Singapore, Church Missionary Society)

Ah, stir the soil within me, God! I know Your plowshare must needs run deep. I know—so well!—the ground within is hard and dry, Lord. Please, Lord, I ask—no, I beg—spare no strength nor toil. I realize You must labor over this fallow earth, gracious God. And, yes. I know I often weep at the pain it takes to transmute the fallow earth of my heart and soul into a bountiful garden.

Dear Lord, as You prepare the soil of my soul, in the loose dirt sow new seed. I know full well how difficult it is to break up the stubborn, clay-ey clods. (I know, full well! What a challenge I must be to You, Lord.) Yet, at the same time, You wish to, need to clear away the withered, dry plantings of the past. The weeds as well as the good plants. Just as the lush gardens I see outside my friends’ home, You wish to make the earth within me just as beautiful and bountiful; into a fair garden within my heart and soul.

Dear Lord Jesus, the words of the Gospel for this Sunday are ringing in my heart: “For the Son of Man Himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life to set many others free.” (Mark 10:45, J.B. Phillips translation)

Gracious God, I hear You call. Here I am, Lord. Send 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

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 88-89.