Tag Archives: congregation

Professing in Prayer, Together

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 8, 2018


Professing in Prayer, Together

Yesterday was World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October. I love World Communion Sunday. I love bringing elements from all over the world into our Sunday service, and reminding our congregation that people in different places do things in different ways.

Whenever a congregation joins together n worship and prayer, they are a bunch of separate individuals coming together. Even if they have worshiped together for a good amount of time, sometimes certain members of that congregation do not worship well or pray well with others. This reminds me of what Father Nouwen said in today’s short reading. “For in prayer, you profess not only that people are people and God is God, but also that your neighbor is your sister or brother living alongside you.” [1]

How difficult it is to overcome the separation and loneliness of being separate individuals! Of course, idiosyncrasies and differences between people challenge many of us in the neighborly art of getting along. Except, Fr. Nouwen suggests that prayer is the common ground, the place where all can meet.

We all can acknowledge that people are people, and God is God. Then, the following statement that our neighbor—we all know our neighbors, right?—I’ll say it again, our neighbor does live alongside of each of us. Our neighbor is, indeed, our sister and our brother; regardless of what kind of food they eat, where they go to worship, who comes over to their house or apartment, or how old/young/tall/short they are.

What a marvelous example for anyone who reads this short little book. It is filled to the brim with gems like this. We are, indeed, brought to the “painful acknowledgement that [we] are not alone, but that being human means being together.” [2]

Dear Lord, help me realize that I am brothers and sisters with everyone. Help us not only pray like we are one big family, but worship like it, and especially live like it. Help us to live in one big neighborhood (just like Mister Rogers would dream of). This is my earnest prayer. 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 91.

[2] Ibid.

In Which We Pray for School Children

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, August 22, 2016

schoolgirl drawing

In Which We Pray for School Children

Labor Day is almost here. Autumn quickly approaches. Children and young people are returning to school, including my child. (Returning to college, that is. Tomorrow.)

The return to school can have great emotional impact on parents or children. (Although sometimes, not so much.)

At my church last week, we prayed for the children and grandchildren of the congregation as they started school. So much preparation goes into that process. The purchase of school supplies, school clothes and shoes, calculators, sports equipment, books. All kinds of preparation.

Parents, grandparents, congregation members, other caring and concerned adults—all of us can help children and young people as they return to school, too. We can pray for them.

Pray for these students to have excitement and encouragement. Pray for focus and discipline. Pray for learning and fun, for yearning and discovery. Pray that all students may continue to strive, to play, to enjoy, and to learn.

Pray for the families the students come from. (Both for the wonderful families as well as the difficult places and hurtful experiences the students may deal with.) Pray for teachers, coaches, tutors, aides, and all those who nurture and care for the students each and every day. Pray for them to have patience and persistence, caring and compassion. Pray for all who work with these children and young people, so that all may be safe and secure.

Dear God, 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 sister 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 is Believing, Not Doubting

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 15, 2016


PEACE is Believing, Not Doubting

Today is a special day. I am featuring a special family: Joe and Gladys Limmo, and their son Levi.

Members at St. Luke’s Christian Community Church in Morton Grove, Joe and Gladys are an integral part in the life of the church. Not to mention their son Levi! He is precious to the whole congregation, and daily evidence of God’s love, grace and goodness.

I wanted to highlight this wonderful family! And, Joe and Gladys gave their personal definitions of PEACE for this #PursuePEACE project.

Joe’s definition had two parts: first, PEACE is “no doubt.” Second, “but believe.” Joe said, “What is peace? Peace is ‘no doubt, but believe.’ I have a scripture reference, John 20:24-29. Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you.’ So, peace comes from God.”

Wow! Such a profound truth. Yes, in one of the first post-Resurrection appearances of the risen Jesus, that was exactly what He said. “Peace be with you.” I am sure Jesus’s appearance must have been shocking. I would imagine some of the disciples being scared to death. Jesus must have known He needed to reassure them.

Jerusalem was in a tumultuous time, right after the death of Jesus. No wonder the risen Jesus brought words of PEACE! And belief? Believing is the response to the words of Jesus.

Now, Gladys. Gladys was shy of having her photo taken, although she set right to, writing a definition of PEACE. She was shy to show her definition, too since she says she wasn’t very articulate in her writing. Gladys wrote “PEACE is obtain through God that you can keep within your self and your soul.” Both definitions are strikingly similar. God is operative in both!

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for Your expression of peace. Thank You that You are the way to peace. The Prince of Peace. We also thank God for Joe, Gladys and Levi, and pray that You will draw them closer together as a family. Thank You for your love for the Limmo family, and thank You for your gift of peace that is available to us all. 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

Prayer of the Heart

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, August 7, 2014

PRAY when you can't put your prayer into words

Prayer of the Heart

I have been visiting, thinking about, and praying for several members of my congregation. I can just hear some say “Good, good. Wonderful thing for a pastor to be doing.” I’ve also been preparing for another Sunday sermon. I am in the midst of preaching a sermon series on prayer. (Wow, just say that five times fast: “Summer sermon series.” Ready, go!)

As a reference for the next few weeks, I’m going to be using an excellent book called “A Praying Congregation” by Jane Vennard, UCC minister, spiritual director and adjunct professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. Superb stuff on prayer and on relationship, in her book! This information will help prepare everyone for the kickoff for our intercessory prayer ministry in September, the Prayer Project.

Funny thing, I happened to be doing some study for this sermon on Matthew 6:5-6—where Jesus is teaching on prayer. I found a longer article of Vennard’s on one of my favorite sermon study websites, The Text this Week (www.textweek.com). Very similar material (and some overlap). But I was especially intrigued by what she said about the Prayer of the Heart in the article.

I connected this Prayer of the Heart with several members of my congregation. Even more so, as I continued to reflect, I felt this Prayer of the Heart being particularly meaningful for me.

Some call these prayers “Breath Prayers,” as well. Short, meaningful prayers said in one breath. One phrase breathing in, the other breathing out. “In You, Lord” (inhale) “I put my trust.” (exhale) Or, “Dear God, hold me close.” The most famous prayer of this sort is called the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ,” (inhale) “have mercy on me, a sinner.” (exhale) This method of prayer is centuries old, and can be practiced several times, for several minutes, or even repetitively over time until it becomes a part of your being.

This Prayer of the Heart is a wonderful idea, one that I do not ordinarily think of! (Especially for those who are going through brief or continuing difficulty, pain, or distress.) Thank God that there are a myriad of ways to pray, to come before God.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, thank You for prayer. Thank You that we can pray anywhere, any time. No matter what is happening in our lives, You always hear and come alongside of each one of us. Thank You for your loving, caring presence, now and always.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Think About—Talk About—Preach About Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

PRAY hug friends with prayers

Think About—Talk About—Preach About Prayer

If you’ve been following this occasional blog during the past few months, I may have mentioned my change in job circumstances a time or two. About how my good friend and co-pastor Pastor Gordon and I were working together at the small congregation in the Chicago suburbs. And how Gordon has since left for another call and responsibility with his denomination, the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ. So, I won’t go into that again.

However, before Gordon left the church, he and I met during the last week of May to recap our ministry over the past three months. In other words, look at all that we had done, and done right!

My good friend affirmed the fact that we had been a real encouragement to this congregation. That was a real affirmation for me, personally! During the next few weeks, as I was thinking about and praying about possible summer preaching series-es, the idea of prayer kept coming to me again and again. So, the week after Pentecost, I rolled it out. I began the series, and I want to concentrate especially on intercessory prayer, in the weeks ahead.

I know, from both my work and my personal experience, how much people often appreciate intercessory prayer! When I worked as a chaplain, I would usually ask the patients and/or their loved ones, “Is there anything you would like for me to do?” Very often, the answer would be, “Yes, please! Could you pray for us?” or, “Pray for good test results!” or perhaps, “Could you pray for this other situation, too?” And, people of all different denominations and faith traditions, too. Even those from outside of Christianity would occasionally ask me for prayer.

Time and again, I was so awestruck and honored to be entrusted with this precious opportunity—the opportunity to come into God’s presence with these friends. And, to journey with them, for a little way, down this road of challenge, difficulty, grief and pain.

That was such a vivid, sometimes rewarding, sometimes heart-rending experience. I really feel called to present this opportunity to this congregation. We can offer to pray for others. God willing, we can be loving, caring friends to people in need. I plan on starting this prayer ministry the first week in August.

I know there are some praying friends who are reading this blog. If you feel so led, could you pray for us and this congregation, as we prepare to minister to others? And, show others the love and care of Christ, as we pray for them and their needs? Thanks so much. I don’t know what I would do without sisters and brothers in God to walk with me. Together, we can do so much more than me, all by myself. Praise God!

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, thank You for Your comfort and care. Thank You for the invitation to come before You in prayer. Gracious God, help us to lift up our friends and acquaintances to You, in both praises and requests. We are so glad You are always ready to hear us, and respond. Thank You! Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net