Tag Archives: concern

My Neighbor, in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, September 2, 2018

neighbor - who is

My Neighbor, in Prayer

As I read this small section of Father Nouwen’s book tonight, I was hit right between the eyes with a verse from 1 John 4. Again. The verse? “Anyone who says ‘I love God,’ and hates his [or her] brother or sister is a liar.” (1 John 4:20)

Thanks, Fr. Nouwen. Thanks, John. Right between the eyes. Again.

“Prayer can never be antisocial or asocial. Whenever we pray and leave out our neighbors, our prayer is not real prayer. True prayer by its nature is socially significant.” [1]

Good grief. Now I not only feel constrained by Henri Nouwen, I have the added (yet, gentle) pressure of Fred Rogers, too. Two of the gentle giants of the 20th century, spiritually speaking. Yes, in different ways, with different focuses, but here their constraints and pressure cross paths. Oh, I feel it.

Oh, the words of Father Nouwen bring me up short, indeed: “there is some reason to wonder whether the comment ‘I’ll pray for you’ is a sign of genuine concern.” [2] I believe I have read enough writings and books from both Henri Nouwen and Fred Rogers to understand that each man was indeed concerned for his neighbors—for all of his neighbors. Truthfully, I feel small and insignificant when I compare myself with these two Godly men.

Yet, I must strive to soldier on. I need to continue to care, continue to love, continue to include my neighbors. Yes, in prayer, and yes, in conversation and interaction, too.

Oh, God. How difficult to do, sometimes. But, the apostle John admonishes me with those words that smart from chapter 4:20. Help me to strive to do as You would have me do. Help me to follow the paths of Henri Nouwen and Fred Rogers. Help me—help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


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), 82.

[2] Ibid.


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

Praying for Children

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, January 30, 2014

dog and boy

Praying for Children

I hesitate to put this down on the screen (years before, I would have said “put down on paper”), but I do not pray for my children every day. I know, I know. I am not a stellar example of an intercessor, a person of prayer. I especially do not consider myself a prayer warrior. However, I do have a desire to bring people together in prayer. I facilitate an intercessory prayer chain at my church, and I enjoy doing that! It gives me great satisfaction to keep track of various prayer requests, note the answers to prayer, and see the gratitude that comes from people we are praying for. (or from their family members and friends, too)

However, I was nudged today to pray for my children. My children are getting older. Only one is still in high school—the other three are all in college or beyond. Still, I pray for my children’s well-being, for their personal relationships, for their work, and especially for their spiritual growth and relationships with God. Some days ago, I mentioned a wonderful book by Stormie Omartian called The Power of a Praying Parent. I still use this book, often, when I pray for my children. I did so this morning, in my (fairly regular) prayer time, and the prayer time was okay. Not exceptional, but I did feel a connection with God.

Later this afternoon, I read a blog post about a child in Africa. This child was sponsored by a couple here in the United States. The blog post was well-written, a vivid word-picture of the situation the child and her family lived in. But this blog post brought something else to my mind: something Stormie mentioned in her book.

In the first chapter of Stormie’s book, she says, “We can be a friend, a teacher, a grandparent, an aunt, a cousin, a neighbor, a guardian, or even a stranger with a heart of compassion of concern for a child. . . . If you’re aware of a child who doesn’t have a praying parent, you can step into the gap right now and answer that need.”

I’ve tried to be that answer. I do pray for children and teens. It doesn’t matter whether they are your (or my) children, or not. You might be the only person praying for that child. I’ve tried to school myself in that way. If God brings some child or teen to my mind, I really try to stop and pray for them. It doesn’t matter whether I am related to them, or not. Often, I feel compassion and tenderness in my heart. So, I pray. Sometimes.

Let’s pray. Dear God, I feel compassion and care for children—sometimes. Thank You for this care that You’ve placed in my heart—in all of our hearts. Please, help me—help us to think of a child or teen to pray for, sometimes. It might mean the world for them. Thanks for all of those I don’t even know who prayed for me. You know them, God. May I be there for some other child or teen, when they need prayer. In Your mercy, God, hear our prayer.