Tag Archives: devotional

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

 

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, 107.

[2] Ibid, 108.

Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

A special #BestOf #matterofprayer for February 28, 2016.

I am reposting this blog post from the third Sunday in Lent, last year. It touched a chord as I read it. I hope it touches hearts, now.

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 8, 2015

pray pray pray

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

I love Fr. Nouwen’s writings. Really, I do. I read something from Fr. Nouwen’s book A Cry of the Heart in the devotional book I have. Yet, my thoughts kept going back to one of the scripture readings for today.

Yes, Fr. Nouwen wanted to alert his readers to prayer. Being led to pray to God, and even taught to pray by God. Yes, dear God. Teach me to pray.

A very good brief reading, but my mind kept wandering away. Wandering toward Psalm 42.

I connected with verses 3 and 4a. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  These things I remember as I pour out my soul.”

Suddenly, vividly, as I read these verses I remembered several times in my life when I was so very sad. So disappointed. Submerged in anguish. Including, one fairly recent time when I was in the ocean depths of despair. Lord, where were You? It’s so dark. I felt all alone. Almost . . . worse than all alone. Such despair and hopelessness.

I knew, intellectually, that You were with me. True, I could not feel it. Not for some time. I still am not sure quite how, but I got through that horrid time of depression and dire despair.

A key feature to continuing through the Slough of Despond? One day at a time. One hour at a time. Even, ten minutes at a time. If I can just make it through the next little while, then I’ll be okay. I hope I can. I think I can. I pray I can.

I guess Fr. Nouwen was right after all. Teach me to pray, dear Lord. Reach out to me. Teach me to pray.

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 .

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 8, 2015

pray pray pray

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

I love Fr. Nouwen’s writings. Really, I do. I read something from Fr. Nouwen’s book A Cry of the Heart in the devotional book I have. Yet, my thoughts kept going back to one of the scripture readings for today.

Yes, Fr. Nouwen wanted to alert his readers to prayer. Being led to pray to God, and even taught to pray by God. Yes, dear God. Teach me to pray.

A very good brief reading, but my mind kept wandering away. Wandering toward Psalm 42.

I connected with verses 3 and 4a. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  These things I remember as I pour out my soul.”

Suddenly, vividly, as I read these verses I remembered several times in my life when I was so very sad. So disappointed. Submerged in anguish. Including, one fairly recent time when I was in the ocean depths of despair. Lord, where were You? It’s so dark. I felt all alone. Almost . . . worse than all alone. Such despair and hopelessness.

I knew, intellectually, that You were with me. True, I could not feel it. Not for some time. I still am not sure quite how, but I got through that horrid time of depression and dire despair.

A key feature to continuing through the Slough of Despond? One day at a time. One hour at a time. Even, ten minutes at a time. If I can just make it through the next little while, then I’ll be okay. I hope I can. I think I can. I pray I can.

I guess Fr. Nouwen was right after all. Teach me to pray, dear Lord. Reach out to me. Teach me to pray.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Regarding De-cluttering

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

thank You Lord

Regarding De-cluttering

In my prayer time for the past number of weeks, I’ve been occasionally praying through an excellent little book. (with a time-out for Advent, when I used an Advent devotional.) It’s what a book on prayer ought to be: helpful, thought-provoking, insightful. And the author even has a gentle sense of humor. As I read through chapter 25 yesterday morning, I came to a full stop. Not even a yield sign, but a full-fledged red octagonal sign with the word “STOP” emblazoned on it.

The chapter was called “Renunciation.” The author suggested his readers subtract certain things from their lives. This was it. Stop. This statement touched me deeply. I had to think about it for several long minutes. When I finally began reading again, he gave several examples of possible things or practices or habits that readers could renounce. Good suggestions.

My life is somewhat cluttered. This has never particularly bothered me, as it would certain of my extended relatives. (Three of my aunts, now deceased, kept immaculate homes. But not my mother. And not I.) But as I age, I am becoming more inclined to streamline my life. De-clutter.

I have a number of the classic fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 5. Except for self-control. I keep falling down, tripping up on self-control. I’ve been going to my spiritual director for almost ten years now. She and I have had discussions about this area of my spiritual (and physical) life. Over this time period, I have attempted to exercise self-control in one, two, or more areas for some months at a time. I do well for a short while, maybe even a month or two longer. Eventually, I can’t do it any more. I can’t continue juggling. (Although, I am succeeding in several areas right now. May I be able to continue, God! Please! Please??)

One of my daughters and I cleaned our apartment over the holidays. And for the most part, it has stayed clean. Hasn’t gotten re-cluttered. It’s much the same with my spiritual life. Over the fall, I have been more intentional about regular prayer and meditation. I also started an intercessory prayer ministry at my church, where I’m coordinator and facilitator. I have consistently prayed six days out of seven, most weeks in the past months, and a few weeks I prayed every day. Yay, me! This track record is fabulous!

It isn’t that I shy away from prayer, or fear getting close to God. No. That isn’t it. My life is just too cluttered. Full of stuff. Some of it is needful. Work is necessary, for example. Very true! But other than that, my life could lighten up. (So could I, physically. Lose at least fifteen or twenty pounds.) I was convicted, big time. I need to de-clutter.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the kind, admonishing words of Rev. Howell. I need to subtract things from my life. I need to find room—make room for You. Forgive me for having such a full life that sometimes it seems as if there is no place for You. Dear God, thanks for giving me the impetus to de-clutter. I pray You can help us choose those things that aren’t necessary, or need to go. Thanks for the help! In Your name we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza