Tag Archives: child of God

Prayer, Life-Breath of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 20, 2018

breath of God, mountains

Prayer, Life-Breath of God

Father Nouwen calls the Gospel—the Good News—the life breath of God. Isn’t that it, exactly? If we name the Good News as indispensable for life, how then shall we orient our selves? Our lives? Indeed, our souls?

“The person who prayerfully goes about his life is constantly ready to receive the breath of God, and to let his life be renewed and expanded.” [1] (Fr. Nouwen wrote this several decades ago, when “he/him” was commonly seen to be representative of all humanity.)

If I am receptive and ready to receive God’s life-giving breath, God’s Ruach ha Kodesh, into my life and self and soul, isn’t that the essence of being? Isn’t that what it means to be a child of God? (These are rhetorical questions.) I agree with Henri Nouwen. Then, I can stand upright, stretch out my hands and come out of the corner where I have been hiding and cowering in fear. Then, I am free to boldly stride through the world, because then I can move without fear. [2]

Fear is just what I am preaching on, in my summer sermon series. I am looking at just a few of the hundreds of “Be Not Afraid!” passages in the Bible, and highlighting these each Sunday. But, to return to Nouwen’s idea of God’s breath, it is truly life-giving.

Nouwen describes someone who never prays as someone who has asthma. (Or, from my direct experience as a hospital chaplain, someone with COPD.) So difficult to breathe! As I have had it described to me, life becomes as small as the distance an affected person is from his or her oxygen source, as far as their oxygen tube can take them. What a sad commentary on living and existence.

It is prayer that opens up the world for anyone, even if some do have mobility difficulties and challenges. Prayer becomes that gift from God for which we need not give anything in return. Thank You, dear God, for the remarkable, immeasurable gift of prayer.


(Here is last week’s “Be Not Afraid” sermon: June 17 Sunday Sermon: “Joshua Called Courageous!“ Joshua 1:8-9 @StLukesChurch2 #pastorpreacherprayer )

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), 31.

[2] Ibid.

Earnest Prayer of a Soldier

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A relief showing Confederate soldiers heading off to war, part of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

A relief showing Confederate soldiers heading off to war, part of the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Earnest Prayer of a Soldier

The October days roll by, and the sections of the Lord’s Prayer pass me by, as well. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Lead Us Not into Temptation.” (Prayer 395, page 119) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Right Living.

O, Lord, I need all the help I can get.

The subtitle on this specific prayer is “Prayer of an unknown Confederate soldier.” I quote it in its entirety.

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for – but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoiled prayers were answered.
I am among all men, most richly blessed.

Poignant. Moving. Heart-breaking. All of these descriptive words, and so many more. Strength, contrasted with weakness. Health and infirmity, riches and poverty. Weakness as opposed to power? Life, and that abundantly. Truly, this earnest and worthy man was indeed richly blessed. May I be one quarter as blessed as this man.

A brief postscript: the Book of Prayer describes the author of this prayer as a Confederate soldier. Yes, that is a descriptor. However, it does not tell me what I really want to know. Was the man young? Old? Did he smile often, or was he serious? Was he married? Did he have children? What did he do before the war? Did he have a sense of humor? Was he scared at the thought of going into battle? Did he miss his hometown? What about brothers and sisters, other family members, friends, comrades?

In other words, who was this man? I know he was someone’s son. I suspect he was a faithful believer in God, since these words were probably not penned by a skeptic.

Like all others in this Book of Prayer, the author of this prayer was a child of God. Dear Lord, just as You heard this dear one’s prayer, written one hundred fifty years ago, hear mine. Hear me—hear others as we repeat his words. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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), 119.

Worthy are You, O God!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 1, 2015

From dailyoffice.org - photo from Compline

From dailyoffice.org – photo from Compline

Worthy are You, O God!

A new month, a new book for prayer. As July came to a close, I wondered which book I ought to choose for my August meditation and prayers. For those who are new to this blog, during each month of 2015 I have been using different, helpful books and different kinds of prayer for each month. However, as I contemplated August, I felt more and more strongly about using a website. True, it incorporates a prayer book for the twice-daily readings, but it is a website.

My friend Josh Thomas is the Vicar at www.dailyoffice.org. He founded that website in 2004, and it has been going (and growing) strong ever since. A lay Commissioned Evangelist with a national preaching license in the Episcopal Church, Josh does a marvelous job at keeping up that website, with all manner of artwork, photos, videos and explanatory notes. Oh, and he includes the Morning and Evening Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, too. Every day.

I found that website around 2009, when I was working overnight shifts as a chaplain here in Chicago. I found I could pray through the evening prayers Josh posted, center myself in just a few minutes, and then be ready to go—for whatever was needed. Could be a patient actively dying in ICU, a page from the Emergency Department, or a critical call from Labor and Delivery. (Those were just about the worst. Never a good emergency page from L & D.)

Josh and I have since become friends. Now, I am a pastor at a small church, and the website dailyoffice.org is continuing to stretch and grow. I found I wanted to revisit Evening Prayer again, in the month of August. I mentioned it to Josh earlier this week, and he was all for it. “Go for it,” or words to that effect, was what he said. So, I will! Gladly, and with excitement.

The words that struck home to me from Saturday’s Evening Prayer were “Lord, hear our prayer; And let our cry come to you.” Yes, I prayed alone. Yes, it was just me and the computer. However—I know a little bit about how many people use the dailyoffice.org website each day, or on a regular basis.

I also know these two short lines from the Prayer, “Lord, hear our prayer; And let our cry come to you” represent the Church. It’s me, in agreement with many, many other people. Throughout the United States, and throughout the English speaking world. I realize that I am praying here in my living room, in the Chicago suburbs. (And yes, it is hot tonight!) Others might be in the rural Dakotas, Kentucky or Texas. Or, internationally, in Lima, or Rio de Janeiro, or Yellowknife.

It ultimately does not matter. Each of us is a child of God. Complexion, national origin, ability or disability. Whether each of us comes to God as a daily habit or not. Dear God, thank You for the website dailyoffice.org. Strengthen and preserve Vicar Josh, and all connected with this site. Thank You for the miracles of the computer and the Internet, and bless us as we gather. Separately, as well as together.



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

Pray for the One I Like Least . . .

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 6, 2015

immeasurable prayer power

Pray for the One I Like Least . . .

Today’s prayer suggestion caused some surprise, even anxiety. Just as yesterday, I stared at the open page for some seconds.

And, yes. I immediately thought of one person I don’t like very much. I hesitate to say I like this person least, because I can’t quantify my “liking” so exactly. However—I know that God wants me to write about this person. So, okay, God. I will. I’ll be obedient to Your leading.

The prayer guide suggests that I try to see something of God’s goodness, love, life, truth, and beauty in this person. This person is a child of God. Much beloved of God. God’s everlasting arms are reaching out to hold this one just as much as God’s arms are reaching out to hold the people I pray for each Sunday in the pastoral prayer at my church.

I don’t want to cause any discomfort or commotion, so I will be careful not to identify this one. But I know that God has gifted this person with skills and spiritual charisms, just as God has given them to every believer. God has called to this one and given specific skills and direction.

I do not wish any ill on this child of God. Quite the contrary! However—I still have periodic resentment in my heart toward this person. So, what to do about the resentment?

My go-to book for many of these problems happens to be the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. On page 552, in one of the stories in the second part of the book, there is a pertinent paragraph. The person writing the story is flipping through a magazine and sees the word resentment in an article written by a clergyman. Here is the paragraph:

“He said, in effect: ‘If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them. You will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.’ It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it.”

My gracious. God, really? Is it that simple? Of course, if I don’t really mean the prayer, this remedy through prayer won’t be very effective. I suppose this is what the author meant when writing “it will work for me every time I am willing to work it.”

Dear Lord, help me to ditch the resentment I feel in my heart toward this dear one of Yours. Yes, Lord, help me to pray every day for two weeks for this person. I know what this paragraph from the Big Book says—I’ll eventually feel “compassionate understanding and love.” I’m not even pushing for love! Compassionate understanding would be very helpful. And, a relief. I’ll shoot for that, if You please, God. Thank You for Your leading, Lord. In Jesus’ name we all pray.

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

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.