Tag Archives: dear Lord

Prayer and Frustration…

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 12, 2018

hugs, hearts

Prayer and Frustration…

If I truly believe in prayer, and in a God who answers prayer, that whole premise can be frustrating. I realize that many people have a “vending-machine” idea of a God who grants wishes. For some, like a huge cosmic Genie, except we are not limited to one three wishes.

Why do I believe in prayer, anyway? It doesn’t work. People still get sick, and have horrible diseases, and devastating accidents. Just look at a pediatric ICU ward. (Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for those suffering, in and out of hospitals and care centers.) Or, stroke unit, or burn unit, or homeless shelter. Or an inner-city police station. Or refugee camp. Or disaster relief center. The list goes on and on.

As Father Nouwen says, “We realize that our world need to change and that no change will ever happen without action, but we often feel lost when it comes to the question of ‘how?’” [1] Actually, two pertinent questions come to mind: “How?” and “How long, O Lord?”

Such desperate frustration does get people up in arms, or confuses them, or causes them to protest, or—in defiance or a wish for oblivion—do nothing, or flee to the bottle or to drugs. Yes, so many are forced to live out their lives in poverty, or pain, or homelessness, or in some other deeply hurting place of body, mind and spirit.

Dear Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. In frustration and agony and surrender, these words come to mind. These words let God know that I realize my dependence on God’s love and mercy and forgiveness. Yes, life is often frustrating! And, yes! God has promised to be with me, every step of the way.

Sure, as Nouwen said, there are ideals of freedom and justice, yet they “are trampled underfoot in everyday practice.” [2] Gracious God, I seek peace, calm, and Your presence. Show me Your love, mercy and forgiveness. Help me to have renewed faith in You, who wants a relationship with me above all else. Even above giving me a soft, easy life, even above any personal frustration I feel on a regular basis. Lord, Your highest goal is to have a relationship with me That’s it. Help me—help us to focus on that aspiration, on that goal. To be loved and known by You, not to get stuff, or money, or power, or prestige. Help me to focus on the things that You want me to. So help me, God.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 100.

[2] Ibid, 101.

More on Compassion and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 28, 2018

compassion - in His steps

More on Compassion and Prayer

Father Nouwen had such insights. I’ve read a number of his book, and I am amazed at each one. Such simplicity, and such clarity of expression. The words with which he discusses the close relationship of compassion and prayer—so straight-forward. Even simple. (But NOT easy to do. Very rarely that.)

“Risks are involved. For compassion means to build a bridge to others without know whether they want to be reached.” [1] Bridge-building is definitely a trusting exercise of good faith. However, without the building of bridges, individuals would still be separated by walls and moats of their own making.

I fear that bitter feelings are often the dividers between individuals and groups. “Your brother or sister might be so embittered that he or she doesn’t expect anything from you. Then your compassion stirs up enmity, and it is difficult not to become sour yourself and say, “You see what I told you, it doesn’t work anyhow.” [2]

As I consider Father Nouwen, I cannot help but see him as someone with clarity of speech and insight. Someone who wrote many books, and touched many lives. How can someone like that not be a builder of bridges?

When we pray, we can try to build bridges. Each of us can strive to show compassion, to trust in God and in God’s love and caring. Is this easy? No, so in the least. Is this necessary? Only if we would like to be caring, compassionate individuals.

Dear Lord, help me show Your caring and love, in compassion and by building bridges. God, it doesn’t matter whether I build verbal bridges, bridges of relationship, or actual, concrete bridges to cross from one side to the other. Gracious God, bless each of us today, and encourage us to reach out in compassion. 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 96.

[2] Ibid.

Compassion, Born of Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 21, 2018

compassion, cursive

Compassion, Born of Prayer

“If your compassion is born of prayer, it is born of your meeting with God who is also the God of all people.” [1] Wow. Father Nouwen certainly has a way of hitting his points home. And I mean, hitting me right between the eyes.

As the election and campaign rhetoric here in the United States heats up more and more, I notice the opposing parties becoming more and more nasty. I have even seen some candidates use inflammatory language toward others who have different skin color, or countries of origin, or the opposite side of the train tracks. Would Fr. Nouwen’s definitive statement (quoted above) inflame matters even further?

As I read this page, Henri Nouwen clearly states that when his readers “fully realize that the God who loves you unconditionally loves all your fellow human beings with the same love,” [2] then and only then does a new way of living open to any of us who have this realization.

Alas, as sinful, fallen humans, we can be terribly nasty to one another, and even get violent. The precise reasons why do not matter. It is the inner garden of love—that of intimate prayer—that Fr. Nouwen talks about. Hiding and skulking does not do any good. Unless you and I take the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with meeting God intimately in prayer, we could quite possibly miss this marvelous chance. We could completely miss this intimate relationship that God offers freely, to anyone who opens themselves to God.

This intimate conversation with a loving God, therefore, “means a simultaneous conversion to the other persons who live with you on this earth.” [3] Fr. Nouwen reels off a varied list, among whom are the worker, the prisoner, the farmer, the sick, the oppressor, the oppressed, the patient and the healer—in short, just about any person you might think of. In other words, ALL people. Every person. God is a God for ALL people.

I pray for all people who are divided, in terms of politics, at this election time of the year. I pray that people may rise above the division and the inflamed rhetoric, and seek the face of God. I pray that we might fully realize that God is, indeed, a God for ALL people. Dear 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 94.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 95.

Professing in Prayer, Together

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

LordHearOurPrayer

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.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 91.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer While Hiding

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, September 30, 2018

storm, waves drawing

Prayer While Hiding

I was struck by Father Nouwen’s descriptive words in this reading tonight. “When God asked Adam, ‘Where are you?’ Adam answered, ‘I was hiding.’ He confessed his true condition.”

Wow. Double wow. That is so true of me, too. I hide so much. I hide from other people, from obligations, from opportunities, from myself. Oh, yeah…I often hide from God, too. Why do I do that? What is my motivation? (Other than the obvious.)

One big motivation happens to anyone who is leading an organization. A large building under construction needs to be using an advance team, according to the daily news blurb. But, what about this particular large building? Are the workers at this particular building staying current with all official procedure?

We could look at Adam in the recently-completed Garden of Eden and compare him to the staff in the building in Evanston. Both had official things they had to do. Both had complaints made against them. What kind of complaints? Complaints of not following through, problems of shirking the assigned tasks.

Did both sets of employees know what they were doing? (Or, NOT doing, in either case.) Yes. Both were aware of NOT doing what they were assigned to do. In Adam’s case, he got all flustered, and afraid. Adam hid himself.

The Lord knows very well what happened. The Lord knows where Adam hid, and goes straight there. The Lord was gracious and merciful to Adam, and will always be gracious and merciful to any of God’s children who struggle with keeping to the straight and narrow.

What does Father Nouwen say? “Certainly praying takes some admissions. It requires the humble recognition of our condition as broken human beings.” [1]  When we realize that God loves us anyway, even though we mess up, even though we are broken and are in need to repair, God loves us anyway.

“If we cling tightly to our own weaknesses, faults, shortcomings, and our twisted past, to all of the events, facts, and situations which we would prefer to cut out of our own history, we are only hiding behind a hedge through which everyone can see.” [2]

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, forgive me. Forgive my sin. Forgive me when I run away and hide, just like Adam. Thank You for loving me anyway. In Your name we pray, 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 88.

[2] Ibid, 89.

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.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 82.

[2] Ibid.

 

Prayer? Of Petition.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 26, 2018

immeasurable prayer power

Prayer? Of Petition.

I often pray prayers of petition. Honestly, I do. I know I “shouldn’t” pray these asking-for-things kinds of prayers, but that’s okay.

(“Shouldn’t,” according to whom? Seriously!)

According to certain people, prayers of petition are not as deserving of the title of “prayer” as prayers of praise. Frankly and personally, I consider this attitude nonsense. So what if I am “trying” to get something for myself? If I make a request of God, I am communicating with God, just as much as if I were making a prayer of praise to God.

Apparently, prayers of thanksgiving are supposed to be more “worthy” of the name of prayer than prayers of petition. And, prayers of praise are totally directed to God, and are therefore the most “worthy” kind of prayer.

All of this sounds awfully legalistic and Pharisaic to me. But, I am just a mere person, not even designated with the title of “theologian” or anything. What does Father Nouwen have to say about this? “The important thing about prayer is not whether it is classified as petition, thanksgiving, or praise, but whether it is a prayer of hope or of little faith.” [1]

Father Nouwen is right when he mentions that the prayer of little faith “is filled with wishes which beg for immediate fulfillment. This kind of prayer has a Santa Claus naivete and wants the direct satisfaction of very specific wishes and desires.” [2]

Yes, I can see why God would not be that wild about such Santa-Claus-prayers. But, when someone is afraid or shy or very young or even filled with naivete, what other kind of prayers are they expected to pray? (Just asking.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, forgive me when I pray those Santa-Claus-prayers. I know I do it, sometimes. When You hear those kinds of prayers, thank You for honoring them—sometimes. Thank You for being a loving Heavenly Parent (which You totally are), telling Your children that You love them, regardless of the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, or petition that they bring to You. Thank You so much, Loving God.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 68.

[2] Ibid.