Tag Archives: Christ-child

How Should I Then Pray?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 26, 2016


How Should I Then Pray?

A new year. Yes, tomorrow begins the liturgical year again, with the first Sunday in Advent. That season of hope and expectation, where we wait for the birth of the Christ Child with baited breath. Well, not really. That is, not everybody does. Even in the church.

I feel like I am running as fast as I can, and I still haven’t caught up. I don’t have a chance of catching up. (Alice, I fully sympathize with you in your conversation with the Red Queen.) The turning of the seasons is getting faster and faster all the time.

These two seemingly disparate things are connected. So many people are scattered and fragmented—including me. Pulled in many different directions. It is increasingly difficult to focus on one thing (even when it’s so important, as the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ). That is, when there are so very many things calling for my attention.

Dear Lord, help me to slow down. Help me to sift through the urgent and important, and focus on the one thing that I need. The one thing that gives me nurture and strength. My relationship with You, dear Lord. Help me bring my other needs, pains, joys and concerns to You, too, because then I will not be distracted. Gracious God, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.



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Praying for True Peace

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

peace on earth

Praying for True Peace

Peace. Searching for peace. Why is it so fleeting, especially today? The Prince of Peace. I seek His face, the One who brings peace.

Yes, this is Advent, a time of waiting. A time of longing. A time neither here nor there, a time when I acknowledge the First Coming and await the Second Coming. This is most certainly not a time of peace. This crooked, broken world holds wars, rumors of war, fighting, free-floating anxiety, panic, dread.

Yet, I know the Prince of Peace is much more than that. I know the One who brings peace has overcome the world.

Henri Nouwen says, “Keep your eyes on Him who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak. He is the source of all peace.” [1]

In this slim book of Advent readings, there is an Advent Action for each day. The action set for this reading for today is to listen to liturgical music. That particular kind of music “can often help us pray and can even help to overcome the chaos of a tense situation at home or elsewhere.… find and listen to a CD of religious music that expresses the calm serenity of waiting for the Christ child.” [2]

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of peace. Thank You for entering into this sinful world, coming to humanity and offering perfect peace to all who come to You. We praise and honor Your holy name. Amen.


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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

Prayer in the Midst of Darkness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 29, 2015

God brightens my darkness - Psalm

Prayer in the Midst of Darkness

Today is the first Sunday in Advent.

For Advent and Christmas in December, we will be following Fr. Henri Nouwen. I have a book of Advent and Christmas reflections. “Wisdom,” as the slim volume is subtitled.

I would have thought the hustle and bustle of the holidays captured most people’s attention, in November and December. Not prayer. At most, I would consider prayer to be tied for a distant second, as far as importance is concerned. Alas, relationship! Sometimes, it’s as if it’s difficult for people get expectant about the holidays. Expectant about the coming of the Christ Child.

Fr. Nouwen addresses us. That is, most of the parishioners are addressed; those who can pay attention to a message from God. See whether you can pay attention!

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow part of his roots.” – Isaiah 11:1

God, encourage us to seek out the task you give to us, O more Difficult One. The challenging task we have before us is one filled with anger, fear, and dismay. True, only a stump can be seen. What can come from an old, dead stump? Yet, God can bring forth miracles. God can bring forth hope.

Because of biblical hope, thank you. Thank you, dear Lord, gracious God.


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

Continuing To Adore Him

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, January 6, 2014

3 wise-men


Continuing To Adore Him

January 6th. The day after Twelfth Night. Three Kings Day. The Twelfth Day of Christmas. Epiphany. It goes by different names in different parts of the world. This is the day in the ancient Western church tradition that the Magi came to give their gifts to the Christ child. The Baptism of Christ is celebrated in the ancient Eastern church tradition

I know that in my current church tradition, the day of Epiphany is pretty much like any other, unless it happens to fall on a Sunday. That’s too bad, since I was raised in a high liturgical setting. I learned about the liturgical colors, the various vestments and the different holy days. I have always liked Epiphany. For years, I’ve been drawn to the concept of the Kings and their gifts, as well as that of the Eternal Light of the Universe suddenly breaking into our little backwater of a world. Being born as a human in Bethlehem. And in some years, the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated. In both cases, the Light of the World is shining forth, whether as a small child or at the beginning of His public ministry.

In the biblical narratives, we see people coming to Jesus. Whether as a baby or as an adult, they come to Him with an agenda. In the case of the Kings, it was to pay homage to another newborn King. In the case of those at the Jordan River, their agenda was mostly to repent and get baptized by John, and Jesus was not the main event (at first).

What about me? I admit I sometimes come to God with an agenda. Well, all right. I almost always come to God with some sort of checklist. What if I let God set the agenda? What if I had no expectations, no presuppositions? What then? I suspect my encounter with God would be different. Very different.

I need to drop the agenda. The checklist. The false expectations and put-on presuppositions. Help me, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, Holy One born in Bethlehem, I pray that I might be a willing servant of Yours. Light of the World, I pray that I might also be a light on a lampstand, giving light to the whole house. Forgive me for my sins, especially the sin of bringing an agenda to You. Hoping, no, demanding that You solve my problems or forgive my sins—when often I’ve stepped right in the middle of something serious or tragic. Please, forgive me. Thank You for Your loving-kindness and gracious mercy. O, let me come and continue to adore You, Lord. Amen.


We wait.

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, December 1, 2013

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. At my church, that means lighting the Advent wreath in a decorated sanctuary, with everything in the service oriented toward the coming One. We celebrate the four-week period that comes before Christmas. In other words, we wait.

I can relate. In terms of prayer, I wait a lot. I wait for God to answer prayer. I wait for God to reveal things to me. I wait for news, for healing, employment. I wait for people. I wait for a lot of things. I am more patient than I used to be, but I still wish God would hurry up!

God, I know I’m griping. But I wish I knew better what God had for me, in this world. In this life. Sure, I know some good ways to approach God in prayer, in meditation, in service. One great way is one my church just used yesterday. They helped provide and serve sloppy joes at a local food kitchen, one that serves homeless people on Saturday afternoons. What a needed way to be the hands and feet of Christ to others.

But, I am coming back to the concept of waiting. God, I almost don’t want to pray for patience, because I know what that will mean—You’ll make me wait even more. But Advent is not only a time of waiting, it’s a time of preparation, too. At least I can prepare my heart to welcome the Christ-child once again. And, I know I can claim the wonderful promises You made.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for this time of preparation and waiting. Help me to get ready. Not in terms of a material way, but internally. It is an inside job. I know I do not reflect on the Christ-child’s birth enough. Forgive me. Help me do better. Help me prepare for the coming of Christmas in real, tangible ways, like serving the homeless. Most importantly, help me prepare my heart for You. Amen.