Tag Archives: communication

Prayer Means Togetherness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 15, 2018

pray, church pews

Prayer Means Togetherness

Father Nouwen so often hits the nail on the head. So true today: “Often it is said that prayer is simply an expression of helplessness. It is asking from another what we cannot do ourselves.” [1] He goes on to say that if we stop there, confusion and despair become the natural next steps.

Is this why so many today are leery of prayer? (Except in hospitals. I was a hospital chaplain at a busy urban hospital. I well understand that in dire or traumatic situations, prayer was a ready comfort or recourse for many. And, I would so often be asked to pray for and with patients and their loved ones.) But, more to the point of Fr. Nouwen’s statement, the person who is lost in confusion and despair can also be lost in a wilderness of misunderstanding and pain.

Fr. Nouwen does not leave our wanderer in a confusing and despairing wilderness, however. “The praying person not only says, ‘I can’t do it and I don’t understand it.” … when you can also add the second, you feel your dependence no longer as helplessness but as a happy openness to others.” [2] And, again. Fr. Nouwen is exactly correct. There is nothing demeaning, disgraceful or debilitating about acknowledging openness, even dependence upon others.

Is this mistaken attitude a fault of the gradual breakdown in communication across generations here in the United States? I suspect not totally, although that must have some bearing. Although, Fr. Nouwen wrote this little book some decades ago. This prescient understanding of an almost universal desire and longing for communication with the Holy, with that which is beyond humanity, and which some call “God” is what this book With Open Hands is all about.

I feel sorrow in my heart for those who cannot give themselves permission to feel a dependence upon others. Even upon one or two others. I realize there are those who have been shockingly damaged by truly evil treatment, and I deeply mourn with them for their losses. However, as Fr. Nouwen would surely say, God is there. Even though some are fearful at reaching out, that makes no difference. Even though some may be so pain-filled and snarl at people who reach out to them, God is still there. God will always be there.

As our mentor and pathfinder Fr. Nouwen tells us, “if you see your weakness as that which makes you worth loving and if you are always prepared to be surprised at the power the other gives you, you will discover through praying that living means living together.” [3] (italics mine)



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, 2005), 86.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Praying, Centering with Holy Spirit

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 15, 2015

HOLY SPIRIT I will ask the Father John 14

Praying, Centering with Holy Spirit

Today’s Name of God is similar to yesterday’s Name of God. Except—different. Different because this is one Person of the Trinity. One Name, one Part of the Trinity. (I want to speak properly about the Trinity! (Yes, Steve, I’m thinking of you and our Systematic Theology class in seminary. You drummed that into all of our heads, and for that I am grateful.)

My word of the day for Centering Prayer? My word—Name of God for today is Holy Spirit. This Name of God comes from John 14. Jesus is talking to His disciples in the Upper Room and tells them the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.

I’ve already centered and reflected on “Advocate,” earlier this month. But, “Holy Spirit?” Because of the Name’s common usage, I tend to think that this Name of God is either well-worn, and therefore not considered to be an elevated or exalted Name; or, this Name of God is highlighted. It stands out, in some ways, and is especially noted as a Holy, set apart Name.

In Hebrew, “Holy Spirit” is ruach ha kodesh. This is one of my absolute favorite Hebrew phrases (or, Names). Yes, the primary meaning of ruach is “spirit,” or, Spirit, depending on the usage. (It is a feminine noun. How about that?) Plus, in some instances, ruach means “wind.” And, kodesh means “holy.”

I loved studying Hebrew. It was one of the most difficult classes I ever took, but I loved it. This added understanding gave me a whole different appreciation for the term or Name “Holy Spirit.”

Although I did not receive any earthshaking communication from God when I centered today, I was able to revisit the concept of Holy Spirit/ruach ha kodesh. I am grateful. And, it’s good to remember.

Dear Holy Spirit, help me to think about You as my Comforter and Advocate. But more than that, help me to think of You as the warm, loving Breeze wafting through my heart. Help me welcome You as the bracing Wind shaking me out of my complacency. Thank You for teaching me all about God, as I understand God. Thank You!


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 #14 – Mind the Gap? The Generation Gap—with Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 5, 2015

family reunion drawing

Day #14 – Mind the Gap? The Generation Gap—with Prayer!

In case you don’t know and have just started reading this blog, I am a friendly person. My natural smile kind-of, sort-of just happens. And, I often strike up conversations with complete strangers. (To the bemusement and occasionally unbelief of my husband and children.)

That being said, when I read today’s suggestion from #40acts, I immediately connected to the call for intergenerational communication. I do this on a regular basis. Perhaps not every single day, but as a regular occurrence at least several times every week. One on one, or in small groups. And, in large groups, on occasion.

But, then, I am a pastor. It is part and parcel of my job, my position. My business, so to speak. I am a communicator. In addition, I have special training in pastoral care, I am a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and I’ve done several extended internships (one paid) as a hospital chaplain. So, yes, I am familiar with talking to people. And I pray with people. As I sometimes say when asked, in part, I am a professional listener.

An acquaintance of mine is in the hospital right now. So, I have visited regularly, talked with the patient and loved ones, prayed, and sent cards. This person is in a different generation. I also call several people from the church on a regular basis. I try to keep tabs on them, pray, and give encouragement and support as I can, over the phone. And in person, when I am able.

Finally, and quite meaningful to me as well, I read each Tuesday morning. I read to two classrooms of preschoolers at my church. I love reading to these little ones. I try to choose books that have interesting stories, lovely illustrations, and not too many words on each page. Most weeks, I have the opportunity to interact with the children, ask questions, and sometimes talk about the illustrations or about the points in the story. Since my youngest child is now a senior in high school, I so much appreciate this precious time with young children.

I try to be friendly to people when I talk with them, too. (Since I am an encouraging person, that’s kind-of natural, too!) It is as easy as smiling at people waiting for the elevator, or standing in line at the grocery store or post office. And if the person is in a different generation from yours? So much the better!

So many people are isolated and separated today. I think a bit more togetherness is a wonderful thing. And—that is exactly what this post from #40acts called for today. Friendliness. Openness. Kindness. Togetherness. In an intergenerational way. Why don’t you try it, too?

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Heal, O Lord! We Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 28, 2015

prayer candles on blue cloth

Heal, O Lord! We Pray.

O, to be healed!

I was a chaplain for most of the past ten years. Regularly, I saw patients and their loved ones in serious, traumatic, even end of life situations. People asked, no, begged me to intercede on their behalf. Or, on their loved one’s behalf. And, I would.

I know the extreme sadness and grief of a patient and family as life ebbs away. I recognize the agony and despair over a difficult diagnosis of a serious illness. Yet, I would pray when asked. Even, when patients and loved ones had no words and I left them, exited the room in respectful silence. I prayed then, too.

Right now, I have a good friend whose dear loved one is in hospice. It’s been a several-year fight, a serious series of pitched battles. The dear loved one is sinking, slipping gently and gradually away. And I pray.

“Why?” “Why me?” “Why my loved one?” When asked this, I often must say, “I am sorry. I don’t know.” Truly, I don’t know why this person, and not that one.

I know some things about prayer, though. I know prayer is communication with God. I know God wants us to be in relationship—with God, as well as with one another. I know prayer is love. I know prayer shows my concern for others as well as a request for encouragement and support from God. I know God will encourage and support me, too, if I ask.

So, these are things I know. Rather, I strive to remind myself of them sometimes, at those times when I have doubts, or fears, or am angry with God.

This thing I also know: as soon as each person is born into the world, we all know how they are going to get out of it. Each one is going to die. (I am sure of this. If you think hard about it, you are, too.) We don’t know when, we aren’t sure how long each one has. Just—each of us has an allotted span of days. As Psalm 90 tells us, “teach us to number our days.” Count each day as precious. Live one day at a time.

And I 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.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Ways to Pray—the Individual Way (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 8, 2015

there's only one you Psa 139

Ways to Pray—the Individual Way

Prayer. Communication. Talking. Praise. Conversation. Contemplation. Confession. Being with. Walking alongside. Adoration. Petition. Silence. Ecstatic utterance. Practicing the presence.

All these ways are ways of prayer, of coming before God. But—which way is the best way? The preferred way? The sure and true way to come into God’s presence?

Prayer can be as natural and effortless as a child nestling in her Heavenly Parent’s lap. Certainly! And, God wants to be accessible at all times. But what about those who are puzzled, who don’t know where to start with this thing called prayer?

Each one of us is unique, and God communicates with each of us in an equally unique way. According to a book called Prayer and Temperament, which uses the personality preferences of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, if individuals deal with the outside world and their inner selves in a certain, specific way, different types of prayer might appeal to them.

This all came from something that Rev. Howell suggested in his trusty prayer guide, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, chapter 9. After some people get into the swing of prayer, we need to strive for more. Strive for maturity. I suggest going with what is challenging, even difficult. Not just with what is easy. Not just with what comes naturally. Even though that is great, too! But stretching, going into what is less familiar, more strange and different. In prayer.

I will use my own experience as an example. Some years ago, I was very hesitant to practice contemplative, or wordless, prayer. I am very word-centered. (I love words, and language, and the spoken word! I relish all sorts of prayer where I make use of the Bible and the written word.) However, I shy away from wordless prayer. Contemplation. Even when I can use one, single word, it is still a challenge for me. However—I realize that God may wish to stretch me, to cause me to grow beyond my comfort zone.

So, from time to time, I do practice contemplative prayer. And—I promise I will use this means of prayer for one month in 2015. But—later. Not yet.

Getting back to differing ways of praying, there are as many ways of praying as there are different types of people. As the authors of Prayer and Temperament say in their Introduction, “if [these suggestions] work for you and help deepen your prayer life and your relationship with God, then make use of them. . . . Think of them as ‘tools’ that are meant to assist your efforts to make contact with God, to maintain this relationship, and to deepen it through your prayer.”[1]

God willing, help us as we 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.

[1] Chester P. Michael, Marie C. Norrisey, Prayer and Temperament; The Open Door (Charlottesville VA), 1991.