Tag Archives: dear Lord

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

Contemplate, Imagine and Pray

When I think about Ignatian prayer, the first thing that comes to mind is using my imagination. My “imagining cap” is never very far away, and I find imagining is often a fairly easy thing for me to do—to think and to pray in a way that invites imagination.

As Father Gallagher describes Ignatian contemplation, he says it is very much tied to the spiritual imagination. However, he also stresses personal reflection.

Is it that I am becoming more reflective as I find myself in my middle years, or is it my middle years that make me more reflective? I can sit and contemplate and pray at the drop of a hat, it seems. I mean, contemplate and pray for a half hour at a time now. In my thirties, that used to be much more of a challenge. Has my life and activities slowed down? I tend not to think so. Have I slowed down more, internally? Spiritually? Slowed myself down to the speed of contemplative prayer and meditation? Or, is it that I am finding more ease in the act of contemplation and prayer? Perhaps so. I am not sure which, but—perhaps.

Father Timothy describes the three steps of Ignatian contemplation in bullet points:

  • I see the persons
  • I hear the words
  • I observe the actions

“The process by which I imaginatively see the person, hear he words, and observe the actions of a Gospel [or, to speak more broadly, of a Biblical] scene, participating personally in the event, is Ignatian contemplation.” [1] He then addresses the questions that may come up as a matter of course: “Can I be personally active in the scene? Can I trust that God’s grace will operate in this imaginative approach? How can I know it is not ‘just my imagination?’” [2]

I can still vividly remember instances when I did use my imagination, and Ignatian prayer and contemplation. It was some years ago when the most vivid time happened. Yes, it is real. Yes, I can remember it with crystal clarity—and that does not happen very often at all.

Dear Lord, help me to practice Ignatian prayer and contemplation more often. I want to encounter You in a more intimate way, a way I have not been experiencing lately in my prayer times. Thank You for those times of prayer in the past. May I—may we experience more of You, Your heart, Your love for us and for others. In Your Son’s precious name we pray, 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), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

Truths in Scripture

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 18, 2019

Bible with flowers, drawing

Truths in Scripture

I want to be more faithful to prayer and meditation. That’s why I have chosen this book for my Lenten prayer meditation, Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture. Father Gallagher lays things out in a clear, matter-of-fact manner, even though this kind of prayer can be quiet, internal, even ethereal at times.

I have prayed in the way St. Ignatius directed, but not consistently. (I am afraid I do not do any type of prayer in a consistent manner. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, forgive me.) Even this prayer blog does not help me to pray every day. Lord, this lack does bother me. However, I will not allow it to paralyze me, or to shrug my shoulders in defeat and give up. No, I will try to keep to the path and pray when I can.

Father Gallagher explains Ignatian meditation in this section. He says, “When I turn to the Scripture I have chosen, I find there a number of revealed truths….As my heart is drawn to one of these truths,

  • I call to mind this truth, with love
  • I ponder it, with love
  • I embrace it, with love and desire” [1]

What a marvelous way to think deeply about Scripture! And, this is such a simple, straight-forward way, too. I would like to think about the Scripture passage I am going to be preaching on  this upcoming Sunday. I have never particularly wanted to consider it before. However, with this being the Scripture section I chose for this week’s sermon text, I know this would be a tremendous opportunity to consider this passage of Luke 13 in depth.

This sermon will be coming at the end of a busy, stress-filled week for me.  (Thank God I am backed up by some excellent people at church.) I hope I have the opportunity to hear some excellent stories.

Trying to pray myself; God will deliver me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear our 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

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 28.

Love Prayer with Scripture

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 24, 2019

bible still life, van gogh

Love Prayer with Scripture

I love praying in the Ignatian way. Some of the most meaningful and memorable times of prayer I have had in recent years have been while praying using St. Ignatius’ suggestions of imagery and guidance with Scripture.

However—I do not pray in this way often enough. Why is it that I do not? (This is not a rhetorical question. I really, honestly wonder.) Why don’t I pray regularly in a manner that has proven itself meaningful to my heart and spirit, again and again?

My regular prayer life has shifted, though. When I was a chaplain, for almost ten years, I found it easier to keep the rhythms of prayer—and more innovative prayer styles—in my life. Not that I have ever found it easy to pray, but as I reflect, I find it was easier. Or, more straightforward. Somehow, less complicated.

I am also reflecting on my calling as a local church pastor. In March, in less than two months, I will celebrate my fifth anniversary at that UCC church in the Chicago suburbs. I love what I am doing now! Yes, I loved my position as a hospital and care center chaplain, and I love being a small church pastor, too. Except—now that my responsibilities have shifted, I seem to not have as much of the focus on my personal times of prayer.

One thing that does help me in my corporate prayer life is my (semi) regular attendance at Morning Prayer online. I am privileged to meet with an Episcopal website and ministry called www.dailyoffice.org for prayer several mornings a week. (I know I’ve spoken about them before on this blog.) Vicar Josh and the other friends at the Daily Office Network are a wonderful, supportive group of people. God bless them!

But, that still does not explain why I do not pray regularly in the Ignatian way. Perhaps that is why I have picked up this slim volume and am reading and blogging my way through it. Dear Lord, help me to be more regular in my personal prayer times with You. Help me to use this marvelous manner of praying that St. Ignatius advocated—regularly. I know You want me to be in regular contact with You. Help me—help all of us—come before You as trusting children, in prayer. In Jesus’ blessed 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

 

 

World of Imagination in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 17, 2019

ignatian prayer word cloud

World of Imagination in Prayer

I love to imagine things. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had an extremely active imagination. (Some might say an overactive imagination.) Perhaps that is why I love using Ignatian prayer. Using my senses and using my brain together in prayer seem to be a marvelous combination. Maybe not for everyone, but it is so for me.

As I get down to praying (in the Ignatian way), “the clarity that emerges is invaluable. It allows a solidly grounded use of these methods, with flexibility, as the Spirit draws us individually.” [1] Whether I imagine the heat and dust of an outdoor market where Jesus and His disciples are traveling, or whether the crowd presses against me as I wait and watch Jesus passing by, it does not matter. I may read the Psalms and be transported into the sadness and fear of the psalmist, and sometimes not be able to quickly separate myself from that experience.

Yes, I can readily intellectualize my Bible reading, to the point where the Bible becomes sterile and stuffy. However, I am saved from over-intellectualizing. Ignatian prayer saves me from that, and allows me to immerse myself (and my imagination) in the Bible reading of the day.

St. Ignatius loved to make use of the Gospels in Ignatian prayer—active, imaginative participation in these Biblical events. “Direct contact with his words opens for us the full richness and endless freshness of this teaching.” [2]

It has been about ten or eleven years since I made my way through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The richness of that experience only whetted my appetite all the more for Ignatian prayer. I am so looking forward to this how-to book on prayer. I hope and pray I can help a few others, in these brief articles.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 10.

[2] Ibid, 11.

Two Building Blocks of Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 13, 2019

bricks drawing

Two Building Blocks of Prayer

I have found another book on prayer. In keeping with my ecumenical teaching and training, I’ve chosen a book by a Catholic priest, Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV. This book on prayer is subtitled “An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture.”

I love Ignatian prayer. I love reading and pondering over Scripture. I am excited to begin reading this guide to prayer, using two of my familiar and favorite ways.

In the Introduction, Fr. Gallagher relates how he came to learn to pray. His first teacher was St. Francis de Sales. Through reading his Introduction to the Devout Life, and practicing the meditations outlined for beginners, Fr. Gallagher began learning the way of meditative prayer.

Next, Fr. Gallagher experienced the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and delved deeper into St. Ignatius’ counsels on prayer. Fr. Gallagher said, “When the retreat ended, I thought, ‘Someone has finally taught me to pray.’ … Ignatius’s clear and practical counsels opened for me, as for so many before me, a sure path of prayer.” [1]

In this slim guidebook to prayer, “Our focus will be the two basic Ignatian methods for prayer with Scripture: meditation, the reflective approach, and contemplation, the imaginative approach….Through different gateways, both lead to the heart.” [2] This book will assist me in striving to have a regular practice of prayer. Yet again.

I’ve spoken here about my ups and downs with a regular prayer practice, for decades. God and I have had many conversations about how I fail to pray regularly. At least in that I am consistent.

As I begin this new year in prayer, I will not use an unfamiliar way of praying, or a manner of prayer that is more challenging to me. No, I will fall back on two ways of praying that I really enjoy. Dear Lord, help me to be able to be more consistent in prayer to You. Thank You for Your patience and love extended to me, a fallible, imperfect, stumbling and stammering praying novice. For, that is exactly what I feel I am. Even though I have been praying for decades—more than forty years—I still feel woefully inadequate. I come to You with Fr. Gallagher’s book in hand, and allow this book to assist me to come before You in prayer, and in spirit and truth. It’s in Your dear name I 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 10.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer, and the Holy Family

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

Refugees - Jose, Maria y Jesus

Prayer, and the Holy Family

Yesterday, December 29th, was the Feast of the Holy Family—Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. I have become more aware of the feast days in the Church since I have been reading and praying with my Episcopal friends for a number of years, on www.dailyoffice.org. This is an online webpage and prayer site out of the Diocese of Indianapolis. It’s run by my friend and online Vicar Josh Thomas, and I have found my prayer life and liturgical appreciation growing by leaps and bounds. (I am sure that makes my Episcopal friends rejoice.)

Not only have I become even more aware of the movement of the liturgical year (which I was aware of before, only now even more so), I also have become familiar with several Catholic friends, through my chaplain connections and online friendships. Although I do not know Fr. James Martin, SJ, I am a devoted follower of his on Twitter. Not a single day goes by that I do not “like” or “retweet” one of his thoughtful, mindful posts; especially two of his posts, one from earlier this week, and the other today for the Feast of the #HolyFamily.

The first post is from December 26th, and runs as follows:

James Martin, SJ‏   @JamesMartinSJ Dec 26  “How sad that so many people are blaming the parents of migrant children for their deaths! Their parents are fleeing to a safer country precisely to protect their children. One might as well blame Mary and Joseph for fleeing to Egypt to protect their son Jesus (Mt 2:13-22).”

The other post ran yesterday, and was retweeted today:

James Martin, SJ‏ @JamesMartinSJ Dec 29  On the Feast of the #HolyFamily, let’s remember all members of the human family: the refugee, the migrant, the internally displaced person, the unborn child, the homeless person, the LGBT person, the incarcerated person, the person at the end of life. All are members of God’s family

Fr. Martin posted a number of other heart-breaking posts in the past few days, mentioning the Feast of the Holy Innocents on Dec. 28th, the death of children at the United States-Mexico border, and other continuing, horrifying injustices occurring here in what is known as a “Christian” country.

While I acknowledge that many hold different political points of view, I am also a mother. I am also a pastor and a former hospital chaplain. I have a heart that breaks regularly, seeing trauma, horror, heartbreak, fear and danger in so many places—including on the U.S.-Mexico border. Including among those incarcerated by agents of the U.S. Federal government for duly presenting themselves at the border as fleeing refugees. I cannot help but think that Jesus’s heart is breaking, too.

Dear Lord, gracious God, forgive us all, including those dear ones who are incarcerated. Help us—all of us, no matter where we were born—to come to You in spirit and in truth. You love everyone, no matter what country we came from, or from which side of the tracks we grew up. This is such a deep divide, and such a heavy burden. Help us come through these fiery trials and ford these rivers of sorrow. Thank You for Your presence, and Your promise that You will never forsake us. In Jesus’ 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

Prayer, In Advent

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 19, 2018

o come Emmanuel

Prayer, In Advent

Advent lasts for quite a while. Almost a whole month. Why does Advent last for such a long time? Why can’t Christmas hurry up and arrive, already?

This waiting-period reminds me of one of the leading cast of characters in Advent preparations, John the Baptist. What does John the Baptist have to do with Christmas, anyhow?

John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, does not fit into your typical Nativity scene. Usually, in most drawings or figures of the Nativity, there are a usual cast of characters. Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, kings, animals, and a manger. John the Baptist just does not fit in here. Where does he fit? With his rough clothing, different kind of diet, and hollering about repentance, he will not easily fit onto a Christmas card, either.

Yet, John the Baptist is featured in the Advent readings, for several weeks. “But the schedule for children’s pageants and choir Sundays often allows us to avoid him, and it is understandable that few of us complain.” [1]  However, John the Baptist is a featured part of the whole reason and purpose behind Advent. Advent is all about repentance. And waiting.

True, the crowded calendar in December often provides little room for repentance and devotion that is strongly suggested for Advent. What gives with this hurry-scurry, rush-rush attitude which now seems to be part and parcel of the holidays? It’s either that, or an extra dose of guilt unloaded on those who are also trying to have Advent devotions on top of following a full calendar of holiday dates.

Dear Lord, help me steer through all of this extraneous stuff and find the expectation and anticipation of Advent. Lead me to discover anew the great worth and value of John the Baptist, and his important message of repentance. Thank You for Your patience and understanding for the many people who are striving to get closer to you—including me. It’s in the name of Jesus, God-with-us, 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] (This devotional by the Rev. John Thomas appeared in the Wednesday, Dec. 19th edition of the online Advent calendar featured by Epiphany UCC Church, Chicago, Illinois. Advent 2018)