Tag Archives: Dear God

The Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bible, open

The Word of God and Meditation

Next, this anthology moves to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. The two men had many interests in common, including theology. They did not see eye to eye, as far as theology in general (and especially of Christian life and practice) was concerned. Small wonder that they “feuded,” as Bonhoeffer gently kids his brother-in-law.

“First, I want to confess quite simply that I believe the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we only need to ask persistently and with some humility in order to receive the answer from it.” [1]

Bonhoeffer does not think we ought to read the Bible as we read other books. No, some read the Bible in a way that depends strongly on textual criticism. Bonhoeffer suggests that a good way to read the Bible is to concentrate on what is within the book, not just on the surface.

“When a dear friend speaks a word to us, do we subject it to analysis? No, we simply accept it, and then it resonates inside us for days.” [2] He urges his readers to ponder the word—the Bible—in one’s own heart, and ruminate on it.

This is not the first time I have read this anthology. No, while I was in seminary I read this book, and used it for a text for prayer and meditation. Since I feel so strongly about the Bible (both old and new Testaments), this approach to the Word of God comes quite naturally to me. What a wonderful thing, finding someone who feels similarly (and strongly, in the same way) about the Bible!.

Dear God, help me to read the Bible more faithfully Please, help me focus more closely on Your Words, just as I would read a letter from a dear friend. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 35.

[2] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

 

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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

The Psalter and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

The Psalter and Meditation

I am such a fan of Dietrich Bonhöffer and his devotional writing. Sure, many people praise his deep theological works. (I think his theology is profound, too.) However, his attitude toward meditation and prayer reach me in a deep, profound way, internally.

I know how important reading is for those who understand “that special intimate relationship with God’s Word.” [1] In the excerpt, we discovered the repercussions for each one who is actively looking for an effective, emotional interaction.

Bonhöffer considered the Psalms as the way he became closer to God. I know how challenging this is for many, but think of something hopeful and upbeat. If anyone can get their hands on this devotional reading, it would be a worthwhile way of deepening our relationship with God.

Dear God, help me to discover more about You and Your World. Lead me in Your way and direct our path. Hear us, o Lord God where You can remind us of how valuable the meditation can be. Hear us when we pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 10.

 

Benefits of Prayer Practice

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-ps-46-1Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

Benefits of Prayer Practice

When I practice being aware of my breathing, I automatically begin to relax. I find myself breathing intentionally, and I move more slowly and deeply.

These are all good, beneficial things.

The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh lists several additional, positive things that he sees happen as a result of breathing, meditation and prayer. “Sitting and breathing mindfully brings four important elements into our lives: peace, clarity, compassion, and courage.” [1]

The teacher doesn’t touch too much on either peace or clarity in this reading, but he does mention compassion and courage. I had actually connected compassion with prayer, and loving, outward acts as outgrowths or expressions of concerted meditation and prayer. However, I had not thought about the way courage is also highlighted through prayer and meditation.

Thich Nhat Hanh equates mercy and compassion towards others with a compassion toward myself. He claims (with some validity) that a healthy sense of compassion and care for others translates into the capacity to think, speak and act in a similarly compassionate way toward myself. (And, this capacity does indeed cut through a great deal of red tape.)

The teacher has highlighted a fascinating cause-and-effect relationship. Something for all of us to be concerned about and aware of. Dear God, thank You for helping me to be aware, too.

@chaplaineliza

 

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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 66.

See Clearly in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 17, 2017

bench-snow-water

See Clearly in Prayer

What a timely reading tonight. The idea that meditation can be seen as a step-by-step procedure makes a lot of sense.

First, concentrate on the breath. Breathe, in and out, Slow down the breath, and relax. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh assures us if the breath slows and deepens, then we are ready to begin soothing our mind and body.

This does not happen to me all the time, or even most of the time, but I will say that some of the time this calming and soothing happens to me. I do feel more peaceful and relaxed. Then, the idea of seeing clearly is much more possible.

Seeing clearly is so important to dealing fairly with others. (It doesn’t matter “who” the other is.) I want to deal fairly with others. (Most of the time.) Then, as the Buddhist teacher tells his readers, true happiness is within our reach. For certain.

Dear God, thank You for this step-by-step way of breathing, of taking in oxygen in a way that calms my nerves and soothes body and soul. May it continue!

@chaplaineliza

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

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 12, 2017

bells-photo

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

As I read today’s segment from How to Sit, I noticed the elegance Thich Nhat Hanh used to describe the process of following the bell.

No matter what you were doing, the sound of the bell invites you (and me, all of us) to direct our attention to the immediacy of the bell. “Every time you hear the bell, you stop everything you are saying, doing, or thinking…go home to the present moment, to the here and the now.” [1]

Being alive in the here and now contains within itself a happy promise. There are so many wonders in this life, and not just intellectual or physical. Spiritual, too.

This whole lesson demonstrates the summoning of the faithful to worship. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Sikh.

Differentiating such ideas is only to the good. When I follow the sound of the bell, I find myself centering in the promises God gives us in regular attendance at worship services.

Dear God, thank You for such good advice on prayer, meditation, and how to sit still, quiet and expectant. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

 

@chaplaineliza

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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 58.

Sitting Peacefully, Free.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 31, 2017

 

flowers-in-sidewalk-cracks

Sitting Peacefully, Free.

The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh includes several stories in his little book How to Sit. I was so struck by the true story of a Buddhist nun from Vietnam who was arrested and imprisoned for her activity in the country. [1]

Each day, the prison guards and officials would punish the nun, because they wanted to totally control her actions. However, she would sit and meditate each night, to nourish and sustain herself. What is more, she also instructed others in the prison about meditation and prayer. How to sit, and how to pray and meditate, quietly.

What a positive, nurturing, nourishing step for her to take. Not only on her own behalf, but also on behalf of others in the same prison.

“In her outer form, she was caught in prison. Yet she was completely free. If you can sit like that, the walls are not there.” [2] Yes, just the thought of this courageous nun freeing her mind in that way must have rankled inside of them, and goaded the prison guards to no end.

For this nun, and for those she was able to help, if they could sit like that—what a gift. What an opportunity to everyone who has been taught how to pray and meditate, to breathe and make space in their hearts.

Dear God, help me to be joyful in my meditation. Like this courageous nun, lead me in paths of righteousness, for Your name’s sake.

@chaplaineliza

 

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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 44-45.

[2] Ibid.