Tag Archives: conversation

Can I Pray This Way?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 23, 2019

do not be afraid, print

Can I Pray This Way?

What a question! As I consider praying in the Ignatian way, I remember the times I vividly experienced this way of prayer. Contemplative, imaginative, experiential prayer. But—will it work for me, this time?

I must admit up front: I am afraid. I am afraid that nothing will happen, this time. I am afraid of not paying sufficient attention to this type of prayer. I am afraid of being far from God. I am afraid my mind is so cluttered and full of chatter that I will not be able to focus. And, I am afraid that my heart is not right with God. This time.

Father Timothy mentions a woman who has similar fears and anxieties over praying in the Ignatian way, too. She follows those fears with: “When I reflect on the meaning of the Scripture, I have the sense that something will surface….there will be some little hold that allows me to enter the surface of the text and go in.” [1] I appreciate this woman’s witness to her experience.

Yes, I can pray. I do pray, in a conversational manner. I honestly enjoy talking with God! Except—it goes in cycles. I need to take this woman’s advice. She recommends patience and trust. I need to patiently try, try, and try again to work on Ignatian prayer.

Perhaps I ought to take the suggestions right here. One woman mentions a simple thing for her to imagine is the weather. [2] I realize the Bible does not go into depth, in terms of description. However, using Godly imagination with what I know of the weather in the area of Palestine is definitely a place to start.

Also, using as many senses as I can is a good suggestion. What can I hear from this passage? What do I see? Are there any smells? Can I taste anything? These are all places for me to start to begin Ignatian contemplation. Even if I am afraid of having my prayer stall out.

Dear Lord, thank You for providing different ways to approach You. You want above all to be in communication with Your children. It doesn’t matter how we do it, just that we do it regularly. Help me to come to You with Ignatian prayer and contemplation, even though I am afraid. 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 41.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer, Critically Speaking

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 3, 2018

candle, prayer, hands

Prayer, Critically Speaking

I realize I have been praying—on and off, and it seems more off than on—for a number of years. A long time. I have been engaged in a continuing conversation with God since my teens. But when Father Nouwen made one particular statement in his slim little book on prayer, I felt as if I could not measure up. No way, no how. He said, “As your life becomes more and more a prayer, you not only come to a deeper insight into yourself and your neighbor, but you also develop a better feeling for the pulse of the world you live in.” [1]

I am sorry. I cannot see any way I can measure up to such a person of prayer as Father Nouwen describes. What can I possibly do to atone for my shortcomings in prayer? I keep telling God I will spend time in God’s presence, but I just don’t get there. It doesn’t happen. I keep missing my appointment times.

Yes, this is a continuing conversation I’ve had with God for decades. I keep apologizing, and then apologizing for the apologies. The Lord must be so sick and tired of my foolish speech and thoughts. (Even now, I feel so apologetic, and I am really sincere about it.)

At least God knows I feel the need for communication, and I also feel the lack of it. I badly feel the absence of God at my side, the desire to know the closeness and intimacy of God’s presence. Yet, I keep forgetting to pray. (But, then, I’ve been forgetting to call my doctor all week to get the results from a routine test. I know those results will be there, but I keep on forgetting…)

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for Your forgiveness and grace. I throw myself—again—on Your abundant mercy. I know You must be getting sick and tired of me and my excuses, my forgetfulness. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You for Your love. 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), 99.

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016


In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.


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


No Time for Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 25, 2016



No Time for Prayer

Shh. I have a confession to make.

I am not consistent with spiritual disciplines.

Yes, I know I am writing this blog about prayer. And, I love prayer. I receive such comfort through praying, and delight in the sometime-closeness to the Holy I feel. That is, sometimes. And, then, sometimes there is nothing. A dryness, or drought. I feel dull, or perhaps dim.

I am afraid to say that I often go in cycles. Cycling in and out of intimacy with God. (God, You know I do. You and I have had this continuing conversation for years. For decades.)

Today, I did pray a bit. In between running around. Oh, I went to a breakfast and lecture, ran to the gym, prepared some paperwork, worked on the computer (a lot), and got ready to take a trip. But, why is it that I feel as if I ought to be a person like Martin Luther, who was so busy he had to take an extra hour to pray?

However, I try to pray when I can. I have asked God to nudge me and remind me when I am to pray. Usually, it works out fairly well. But, still. Not consistently.

God, I am sorry. I feel my lack of prayerfulness. Forgive my hesitation, my forgetfulness, my busy-ness. Help me to attend to Your will and Your ways more diligently. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my hesitant, bashful 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

PEACE: Medicine of Mercy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 24, 2016

PEACE: Medicine of Mercy

I was struck by a phrase: “treats [people] with the medicine of mercy.”

Perhaps I ought to back up. I bought a book by Pope Francis called The Name of God is Mercy. I have just started to dip into it, and I was intrigued to no end by something I happened to see there.

This book is a series of conversations between Pope Francis and a journalist, Andrea Tornielli. In the forward to this book Tornielli writes about the centrality of the Pope’s message. So often his Holiness has referred to simple and profound words to promote mercy. “This is the face of a Church that doesn’t reproach men for their fragility and their wounds but that treats them with the medicine of mercy.” [1]

I was suddenly struck with the idea that PEACE and mercy run in similar veins. I do think that if people are considering mercy, why not consider peace, too?

Gracious God, help me to consider PEACE. Help me to be on the lookout for grace, too, which is the other side of mercy. All good things. No, make that all great things. God is gracious towards all of us, which is part and parcel of PEACE. Thanks, 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

[1] Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy (United States of America: Random House, 2016), xi.

First Try at Ignatian Prayer (Using Inner Compass)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Virgin Mary praying mosaic

First Try at Ignatian Prayer (Using Inner Compass)

I’ve been hesitant to dip my toe into the imaginative style of prayer that St. Ignatius recommends in the Spiritual Exercises. This time, that is. Ordinarily, I find Ignatian prayer and meditation exciting, exhilarating, even intriguing. I appreciate using the abilities of my senses to assist in my prayer times.

But—there was something about the passage Margaret Silf chose for the first passage. The Annunciation, from the first chapter of Luke. That made me hesitate, for several days.

I finally pulled up my figurative-bootstraps and waded into the passage. That’s what it felt like, truly. At first.

I read it through, relatively slowly, three times. The first time, just to get a handle on what I was reading. The second time, to particularly notice things. Trying to imaging the setting, the house, the dusty road outside the door. Mary, a teenage girl, and her being frightened, startled. And the third time—the angel. I was arrested by the angel. The special effects in my mind must have been great, because I saw the angel as vaguely masculine but with a body of light. Corporeal, but filled with light. Or generating light from within. So awe-inspiring, and frightening.

I realized I was peeking into the main room from the adjacent room (a kitchen?). I saw the conversation between Mary and the angel, and I could sense Mary’s anxiety and fear. Yet, as the angel spoke of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth (which is my name, I think in retrospect), I feel a sudden kinship with Mary’s cousin. I don’t believe I ever have, before.

That’s all I got for today. That’s what the passage held for me. That’s a lot, too.

Let’s pray. Dear Mighty One, overshadowing all of Your children, You are loving and You see everything. You want each of us to say “I am the servant of the Lord,” don’t You? Help me to be willing to say that, on a regular basis. Thank You for the assistance Your Spirit gives to me, each day. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of 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 blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 20, 2015

floating lantern festival

Day #27 – Widen Your Circle? Mine, Too.

I have been widening my circle this past week. I attended a yearly conference for substance abuse counseling. (I have a state certificate, a CADC.) So, I need continuing education hours. Lo and behold, I really enjoyed myself at the conference. Plus—I made some new friends.

So, yes. I did, indeed, widen my circle in the past few days.

Today, however, was another matter. I read the email from #40acts this morning, before I left the house. As I considered today’s suggestion, I became sad. You see, I had made plans to go see a dear friend, a senior who is seriously ill. This dear one will not be here much longer.

My circle is widening, indeed. To heaven, above.

Yes, I did make a visit. My friend was—to our eyes—unresponsive. But in some deep, profound sense, God knew I was there. And I hope my dear friend—in some way—knew so, too.

Last night, I attended a panel discussion on end-of-life medical issues, and the differences of opinion each of several different religious groups had on suffering, hospice, and end-of-life decisions. I was particularly struck by what my acquaintance Rabbi Joe said. (He got this piece of wisdom from one of his older rabbi mentors.) “Everyone has an expiration date.”

The expiration date is almost here for my dear senior friend. (You’ll be saying hello to God, soon.)

I know many people don’t even consider this aspect of widening the circle. Gee, for some, it’s enough of a challenge to say hello to a stranger on the street, or in a coffee shop! Yet, our circles continue to expand as each of us continues to try to stretch and grow.

Why not smile? Say hello? Go one step further, and strike up a conversation with someone. Anyone. Or, even invite someone new to coffee, or a movie.

I wish God’s blessings to you! Whether my expiration date is near or far, I hope and pray that you rejoice in the days God has given to us. I am trying my very best to rejoice in my days.


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 .

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day #25 – Serve the Server? Pray for Them, Too!

go where you're celebrated

I loved today’s suggestion! Right up my alley, too.

I am naturally friendly. I know I’ve mentioned my smile before. It just sort of happens. So, I share it with lots of people. And, I’ve been told a number of times that my smile brightens people’s days.

As far as engaging in conversation or smiling or being friendly with waiters, baristas, mail carriers, garbage collectors, or people going to a food pantry or clothes closet, I do those things. In fact, my husband and children shake their heads about it. I can fall into conversation with the checker at the grocery store, for example, and she or he can pour out their life story to me in the time that it takes to scan the contents of my cart.

I am serious about that. I struck up a conversation with a checker several years ago. She was about to go on break, and I was the last person she had go through her line. I was friendly, smiled at her, asked an open-ended question, and she began to tell me about a family concern she had. How this family member was making her very anxious, and how the situation was monopolizing her thoughts. I can’t remember quite how I responded, but I could see how much the checker appreciated my attention and my caring attitude.

This is not a rare occurrence for me. Not in the least! Sure, it takes an extra minute or three, but I make a human connection. God made other people just as much as God made me. Then, I am not just waiting idly, bored, impatient to get out of the store, or for the street light to change so I can cross the street. Instead, I usually look for opportunities to engage, to interact with others.

One of the few exceptions for these opportunities comes when I am tired. Especially, when I’m exhausted. If I am not at least sort-of alert and oriented, I find I don’t particularly like to engage with anyone! (I know. God, forgive me.)

I try to follow this suggestion, on a regular basis. Even before I knew anything about the #40acts. Maybe you could try one or two of these suggestions, too. See whether you get any enjoyment, encouragement, or nurture from this engagement.


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 .

Day #20 – Stranger Things Did Happen Today!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 11, 2015

happy jumping dolphins

Day #20 – Stranger Things Did Happen Today!

I have mentioned before how I can fall into conversation at the drop of a hat. My children and husband shake their collective heads in bewilderment, sometimes. It just, sort of, happens. It isn’t like I go out of my way and plan it! Just happens.

As I read today’s suggestion, I couldn’t help but think this morning was a perfect example. I have a state certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. As a result, if I want to remain in good standing as someone with a CADC, I need to take a certain number of continuing education classes during the year. Each year. Actually, the classes are excellent refreshers. I do appreciate them.

I attended one this morning. Accordingly, I arrived at the place. (A synagogue in another Chicago suburb.) Round tables were set up all around the large room where the presentation was being given. I sat down a couple dozen feet from the presenter. A woman was already seated at the table I chose, and we immediately began talking. (I could tell she was rather introverted, but she began to talk, readily enough.)

As several minutes went by, three more people came in. Seated themselves at “my table.” It only took a minute or two, but five ladies—who had never met each other before—were involved in fairly deep communication. It helped that we were all there for a common purpose. Plus, all involved in a helping profession. Several clinicians, one administrator, and me.

There were others—dozens of others—in the large room. I am often able to “feel” the “temperature” of a room, in a social sense. This room definitely felt warm and friendly! True, there were some attendees who did know one another. However, some were in the same boat as all the people at my table. We talked to each other. Of course, we were encouraged to, by the presenter. However, quite a lot talking buzzed around the tables even before she told us to talk to one another as an ice breaker!

I went one step further. The presenter had reached the halfway point in her talk. She had a tickle in her throat, and tried to clear it. Meanwhile, she asked someone to read a handout, a meditation that was included in everyone’s folder. Her eyes fell on me, and I spontaneously raised my hand. Rose to my feet. The presenter introduced me, off the cuff.

Thus, I read the meditation. (I do read well, by the way.) I could tell that everyone was surprised. Some were pleased. A few asked me whether I was a “plant” in the audience because I read with such feeling and compassion. (Yes, it was an introspective meditative reading.)

Did I make myself useful today? I think, yes. Did I go out of my way to talk to people? Be friendly? Absolutely. Even after the training, in the hallway? Yes, there, too. Wherever there are people. It’s a human thing. A feeling thing. God willing. God, help each person on their jobs. Help them know their job is a worthwhile job. Help me, too, on a regular basis. Amen!


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 .

Day #2 – In Conversation? In Retrospect—In Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 19, 2015

PRAY praying for you

Day #2 – In Conversation? In Retrospect—In Prayer

The second day of doing Lent generously! Today, the generous suggestion was to get involved in conversation with someone. A neighbor, or even a stranger.

I know I am often preoccupied, so much so that I keep my head down and just plow through life, unseeing and uncaring. At least, it must seem that way to others. So many people are almost wearing blinders! It seems that way, anyhow. Actually, I am interested in other people! Really and truly.

I decided to take my recently-bought used car in to the repair shop today. I felt my steering pulling, so I thought the car needed a wheel alignment. It was a frigid day, with the temperature hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit. (Wind chill fifteen to twenty-five below zero . . . )

After dropping my car off, I went down the block to the Asian restaurant next to the post office. Excellent food, and not expensive, either! So, I had a delicious lunch. The server in the restaurant was a pleasant young Asian woman. As I finished my lunch—after the lunch rush had cleared out—she and I exchanged a few words.

I am a friendly person. I’ve talked here before about my propensity to engage in conversation with most anyone. At the drop of a hat. My family rolls their eyes about it. Well, it happened again, today. Naturally, almost like we were friends already, the conversation blossomed. She seemed to really enjoy it.

After we had talked for some five minutes, she finally asked me what I did for a living. “I’m a pastor.” Because she seemed to have difficulty processing that word, I helpfully supplied another. “A minister, at a church.” Her face brightened with recognition. She nodded. “Ah, yes. My husband and I, we go to a church near our home sometimes.” I told her that was wonderful! I tried to encourage her in attending church on a regular basis. She nodded again and was going to respond—when the telephone rang. Alas, she needed to take care of business, a take-out order.

I left the restaurant not long after that. (Oh, my car? Sadly, it needed tires. Plus the alignment. But I digress from the topic of this post.)

As I look over the generosity assignment for today, it says to engage in conversation, and to try to remember details about the other person. I had the bonus of the person actually asking me about my work. So, I told her! I hope and pray that this lovely young lady has the opportunity to attend that church with her husband, soon. God, grant that they may be welcomed and made to feel the friendly attitude of the people who attend there.

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.