Tag Archives: desperate

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 5, 2017

Psa 119-5 steadfast ways, bible

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s devotional writing is often heartfelt, sometimes earnest. As I make my way through this anthology of briefer devotional writings, I am struck again and again by phrases used in a particularly apt way. Or, some word or phrase Bonhoeffer might mention convicts me—sneaking up on me in an unexpected manner.

It was that way with Bonhoeffer’s commentary on verse 5 of Psalm 119:

Oh, that my ways were made so direct

That I might keep Your statutes!

The first point he addressed was the difference between wishes and prayers. “One proceeds from our need as we ourselves understand it, the other proceeds from our need as God has taught us to see it. The one is desperate and demanding, the other is humble and confident.” [1] Ah, such a difference. Some might imagine it to be subtle. However, the more I think about it, the more I tend to think that needy people who wish for things might just be anxious and fearful, possibly oblivious of others, or angry with life—perhaps even secretly disappointed or angry with themselves.

Ah, but prayer? People who pray? Bonhoeffer contrasts these needy, desperate ones with humble people who request from God in confidence, with (some) patience, and above all, knowing that God’s ways are sure, direct and straight. What a contrast. What conviction sneaks up on my heart, knowing that I am—occasionally—a whiny brat, throwing a tantrum before my Heavenly Father. (Dear Lord, I am sorry. I really, really am. I will try my best to do better. Truly.)

But, wait! Bonhoeffer has more for us in this commentary! “Out of the crooked and twisted a straight way shall emerge, which is not ‘blocked and made crooked by human doctrine’ (Luther). God’s statutes alone remain firm, drawn up by Him for all times.” [2] Here he quotes from Martin Luther. Yes, faulty people can botch things up. Even well-meaning pastors and theologians can goof and get things wrong. If people keep their eyes on God’s Word, and search out God’s ways, then a straight path can emerge. It is not always easy, but it is almost always clearly marked.

Dear God, You so clearly mark the way I am to travel with You. Thank You for Your Word, Your statutes, and Your confidence that You offer so freely. Help me—help us all to receive Your Word with gratitude. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

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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, 107.

[2] Ibid, 108.

Pray for a Future and a Hope

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jer 29-11 I know the plans I have for you

Pray for a Future and a Hope

With the end of January, I come to the end of prayer for relationships. I look forward with confidence, praying that God will give me a future and a hope. Praying that God blesses my loved ones with a bright future and a shining hope.

But—what about the dark times? What about the disheartening feelings and the desperate incidents? I know they do happen from time to time. (With some people, more often than not.) What then? How do I cope?

I know, I know. (Intellectually, that is.) God is my hope. God is my sure, steadfast anchor. Except—when I’m not feeling it. At times like these, I long for Your encouragement and comfort and care. Lord, please give me an awareness of Your presence with me.

Keep me from losing my sight of You, dear Lord. Help me to continue following You. I know You have plans for me and for my loved ones—plans that are good, and not evil. Help me and help my loved ones to be of service to others and of service to You, dear God.

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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Prayer, Relationships, and Finances

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jer 29-11 I know the plans I have for you

Prayer, Relationships, and Finances

Finances are the very devil, sometimes.

Between worry about where finances are coming from, complaints or disagreements about where the money is going, and awkwardness concerning spending, saving, and general consumption of available finances? Yes, I would say money can be the very devil. Sometimes.

That’s why I want to pray for relationships and finances.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for helping us to be good stewards of all You have given to us. Encourage each of us to be honest, open and willing with all that we have and are—in terms of time, talents, and especially treasure. All we have and are comes from You. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.

Lord, I ask that You provide for all of our needs. You know how desperate some of them are. Especially in times of such uncertainty of many different kinds, give us wisdom and understanding with finances. I praise You for Your loving-kindness, mercy and grace extended towards each of us, especially for those who are crushed with uncertainty, anxiety, debt, illness and unemployment. Dear Lord, give comfort where it is needed, and help to those who are hopeless and sinking. Gracious, loving God, in Your mercy, we earnestly pray. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

For All the Saints (A Bit Early)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, October 30, 2015

people diverse fellowship in the church

For All the Saints (A Bit Early)

As I come to the end of the Lord’s Prayer, I’m also approaching the end of October. All Saints’ Day is celebrated in two days’ time.

The prayer for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “For Ever and Ever” (Prayer 558, page 168) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled The Virgin, Martyrs and Saints. The editor marks this selection as penned by “Anonymous.” I thought this prayer both elegant in tone, and comprehensive, for its brevity.

“We thank Thee, O God, for the saints of all ages; for those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning;” – I think of historical figures from various places who not only were faithful themselves, but were God’s lights in uncertain and dark times. God bless them.

“For the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it;” – I think of those courageous “great souls” who did not shrink from naming truth. I think of desperate situations where noble “great souls” stood up and cried out, like a voice crying in the actual or virtual wilderness. They were God’s lights in treacherous and dangerous times. God bless them.

“For the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world;” – I think of countless Marthas and Stephens worldwide, unassuming, going about their quiet work in a quiet manner. Loving God and loving their neighbor. They were God’s lights in tranquil backwaters and placid times. God bless them.

“For those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with Thee.” – I think of many dear ones I have known my life long, who have passed into God’s glorious presence. Bless each one. Bless their memory.

Gracious God, as we are surrounded by such a vast and varied cloud of witnesses, help us to continue to lift Your name high. As we praise Your name along with the mighty company of saints from all time, we say, Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 168.

Give Back to Us the Light, Lord!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 28, 2015

sunrise over the clouds

Give Back to Us the Light, Lord!

With the end of October drawing near, the darkness approaches, closes in. Not a positive thing, especially for someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder (fittingly shortened to SAD). Darkness is also a big deal for the worship and vigil of Holy Saturday. Today’s prayer comes under the notation “For the Kindling of the Light on Easter Eve.”

This is one of the oldest prayers I have yet seen, by Prudentius (348-410), in the section “Thine Is the Kingdom.” (Prayer 522, page 158) [1] Today’s prayer is about Sacraments.

Light is not a sacrament of the Church. In my Protestant tradition, baptism and communion are the two designated sacraments. However—light is fundamental to Christian belief. I can well understand how someone as significant as Prudentius could pen these distinctive lines.

“Good captain, maker of the light” – referring to Christ, who is acknowledged to be active in creation. And, focusing on the light. (Or, is it perhaps an oblique reference to the Light, Jesus, as mentioned in John 8:12?)

“Who dost divide the day and night” – again, a reference to the Second Person of the Trinity. Genesis 1 vividly speaks of the division in the first Creation narrative.

“The sun is drowned beneath the sea” – I think this is an allusion to the Sun of Righteousness, another name for Jesus from verses such as Malachi 4:2. And drowned? Under the sea? I suspect this is a reference to Holy Saturday. Remembering our Lord when He died. Descended into hell, in the words of the Apostles Creed (one of the oldest existing Creeds).

“Chaos is on us, horribly.” – Ah, the chaos of Holy Saturday. Horrible, desperate loneliness. Chaos of Genesis 1:2, formless, void. Empty. Wasteland. Who can save us from this desperate state?

“O Christ, give back to faithful souls the light!” – Dear Christ, hear our cry. Send us Your light. Lead us forth from the seeming endless void of Holy Saturday into the blazing brightness of Easter morning.

@chaplaineliza

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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 158.

Coming to God with My Wounds—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 24, 2015

stormy ocean

Coming to God with My Wounds—in Prayer

I am faithfully, even obediently reading the next chapter in my trusty prayer guide. I find “Wounds” is the topic of today’s chapter. Yes, I can immediately relate to the expressions I find Rev. Howell uses, the examples he gives from Henri Nouwen and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Sure, I find I can easily identify, and not just compare.

But, Lord Jesus, I find myself skidding to a mental stop when I come across an excerpt from Isaiah 53. These words bring tears to my eyes, yes! But, I cannot relate to them very well at all. Not in the sense that You actually experienced them. Your incredible suffering, pain and anguish during the time of Your passion and death are too distant for me to consider. (Very often, that is.)

But Psalms? Ah, yes. Psalms are much more accessible. More identifiable. I see the raw emotion, desperate grief and longing, and ecstatic praises written in the Psalms. Those difficulties and agonies in my life? As Bonhoeffer mentioned, I can surely cast my cares upon God, because God alone knows how to handle suffering.[1] Praying the Psalms can help me in my effort to try to give God my agony, grief and suffering, as well as my joys, praise and delight.

Dear Lord Jesus, perhaps I can see Your suffering as making You real. Real to me, anyway. You suffered in order to feel with us. Not to remain remote, light years away from us humans. I know, that’s part of the reason for the Incarnation, for You being born and a growing up a child in a human family.

I read in Isaiah that You have borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Please, dear Lord, impress this on my consciousness, especially as we are going to commemorate this once more on Ash Wednesday, in just a few weeks. (Much less the penitential season of Lent, culminating in the Passion Week and Good Friday.)

Please, God, help me come before You faithfully, even though I don’t understand—much. Help all of us. 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 sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1970), 48.