Tag Archives: Dear God

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.

Pray. Meditate. Nourish Yourself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 29, 2017

sitting-sunrise-mindful

Pray. Meditate. Nourish Yourself.

I have had a stressful several days. I am sick. I have a garden-variety cold, but it is particularly awful. (I feel particularly awful, too.)

I needed to take my daughter for an interview several hours away. We left on Friday morning, and came back yesterday evening. I felt like death warmed over yesterday morning, truly. However, I managed to get my daughter there and back again, and to all of the activities she needed to attend.

I really needed this reading from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book How to Sit tonight. He described practicing mindful sitting anywhere, even on a place like a train or a bus traveling to work in the morning. “You can create a meditation hall of your bus or your train. Use your time, wherever you are, to nourish and heal yourself.” [1]

What a concept! Nourishing and healing myself certainly sounds appealing, especially right now. (Especially with an awful cold.) When I slow down and concentrate on my breathing, and on allowing my muscles to relax, it is so beneficial to me and lowering my stress levels. When I am able to coax my tight shoulders and neck to relax and unwind, I feel so much better, in all kinds of ways.

Dear God, thanks for this excellent advice. Help me to not only read it, but to follow these excellent suggestions. It will be so good for me to practice these simple things. Thank You for such amazing suggestions that allow us to nourish and heal ourselves, from the inside out.

@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), 41.

Pray Like a Show-off.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 24, 2017

luke-18-pharisee-and-tax-collector

Pray Like a Show-off.

There are many, many books on prayer and meditation, from any number of faith traditions and religious orientations, both modern and ancient. I very much appreciate this little volume by the teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. I have read a fair amount of books by Christian writers on prayer and meditation, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Thus, the little book by the Buddhist teacher, featuring prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and how to sit (in meditation and prayer).

As I read the short portion for today, I was vividly reminded of a section from one of the Gospels. First, from How to Sit: “There are some people who sit in a very funny way; they try to show that they are practicing sitting meditation.” [1] This reminded me so strongly of Matthew 6, verse 5, where Jesus tells those listening, “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

What a show-offy thing to do! Whether it is sitting meditation, out in the open where everyone could see, or praying loudly on the street corners, where everyone could (likewise) see, this person’s inside attitude of the heart is not quite on target.

What could I do, to avoid such a predicament? The first thing I can do is to get my inside attitude oriented toward God (or, Ha Shem, or the Higher Power). If my inside orientation is straight, my outward expression and practice has a much better chance to be oriented in a God-ward manner.

The second thing I need to focus on is my relationship toward God. I suspect this (imaginary) person’s eyes were on other people, in both the case of Thich Nhat Hahn’s example as well as that in the Gospel of Matthew. That person’s number one priority was the horizontal relationship, with other people. I think Jesus would say—every time—that our number one relationship needs to be with God. The vertical relationship is primary. God comes first. Then, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for the excellent lesson, dear God. Now, comes the hard part: putting it into practice. Help me, Lord. Help me both practice prayer and meditation more regularly, as well as keep my relationship with You number one in my life. 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), 37.

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 16, 2017

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Breathe. That’s right, feel your breath flowing in and out of your lungs. Intentional, mindful. Now, breathe more deeply. Slowly. In and out. Be exquisitely aware of each breath in, and each breath out.

You got all that? You—I—we all are celebrating being alive as we become mindful and aware of each breath we take. What a marvelous gift from God.

As I read another short section in the slim book How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across a significant insight. (Or, if you choose, it’s the most obvious statement.) He says: “If you are breathing mindfully in and out, you already have insight.” [1]

When I sit and meditate, take my time and pray, I have the opportunity to deepen and slow my breathing. I can take the time to relax my muscles, loosen the tension in my neck, shoulders and spine, and become quiet. Restful. Mindful.

Dear God, is this what You want me to do, right now? Rest in You, I mean. Rest, and praise, and be thankful. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 29.

Meditate, in Mindful Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 8, 2017

bench-sun-mindfulness

Meditate, in Mindful Prayer

It’s cold outside. Boy, the wind is wicked! Plus, there’s the difference I feel after sitting in prayer, quietly. All kinds of wintry weather. Just perfect to continue my prayer blog.

But, I have a few questions, first. How should I start to meditate? I’ve been practicing the prayer part, for years. (With varying degrees of success.) But, how to meditate? Is it three easy steps? Or, five definitions for silent meditation? Is that how to figure it out? How should I start? Walking? Sitting? Eyes shut, or open?

As I read the book “How to Sit,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, he gives some great advice. Wonderful, and open-ended. As I understand, however I am most comfortable, that’s what he suggests. Walking? Yes. Sitting? That, too. Inside? Yes. Outside? Yes, again.

It’s more of an inside job. Meditation, that is.

Paying quiet attention to whatever crosses my path is a good start. Looking deeply from a point of quietness, I “can begin to see the true nature of what is in front of [me].” [1]

What a generous, enlarging attitude of meditation. Simple and straightforward, really.

Dear God, thanks for such a teacher. And, thanks for such good advice. Help me to follow it regularly. In earnest prayer, I appreciate You so much. God, thanks!

@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), 19.

Week-After-Christmas Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 28, 2016

christmas-holly

Week-After-Christmas Prayers

The week after Christmas does tend to be a bit of a downer. Anti-climactic, as it were.

This year? Especially so, with an elderly loved one dying two weeks ago, then going to the funeral in another state, last week. And, on top of that, all of the December and Advent and Christmas activities and festivities going on.

Apparently, it wasn’t only my extended family that had it rough. A lot of people had it rough. Some are even calling 2016 another annus horribilis.

Just this evening, I came to the realization that I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. I know I try to be strong, and caring, and honest, and willing to serve—all the time. However, sometimes things pile up so high, and get so heavy. I need to say “Enough is enough.”

I need some rest and relaxation time. Just what I had planned for tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. (Sunday, I need to be back in the pulpit.) My dear husband and I will travel to see my sister for the next few days, and I will even leave my laptop at home. (Gasp!)

If anyone would like to pray for me, I will gratefully accept prayers! Believe me, I have a full slate of things on my To-Do List waiting for me, when I come back.

However, I am still going to pray while traveling. I will take my prayer book with me while I am gone. Perhaps, I will have a fresh perspective on both prayer and life-in-general when I get back. Perhaps, in 2017, we can all make a fresh start.

Dear God, thank You for Your many blessings. Thank You for the opportunity and possibility to get away, to see family, and to rest and relax. And, thank You for dear friends, who uphold me in prayer. Help me to remember my friends and loved ones, too. Amen, and 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