Tag Archives: difficult

God’s Commands and Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Psalm 119 word cloud

God’s Commands and Psalm 119

It amazed me, some years ago, that Psalm 119 could have so many things to say about God’s Word, the Bible. It still amazes me. When I think that—at this time in the continuing writing of the Bible—there wasn’t all that much written at this particular stage or date, it amazes me still more. No New Testament at all (obviously). And, whole books in the Hebrew Scriptures that still weren’t composed, either.

Our author talks about being put to shame, in verse 6. (Rather, not being put to shame.) Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s take on that? “To be put to shame is the opposite of happiness. My life is ruined if that on which I relied collapses;” [1] Bonhoeffer mentions several sentences later that the world has absolutely no compunction at mocking one of its own. I know how difficult it can be to be laughed at and mocked today. I suspect it was just as painful and hurtful at the time of the writing of this Psalm, too.

Bonhoeffer’s understanding at how he is able to succeed? He mentions that he no longer regards “other human beings, honor, or possessions, but God’s commandments alone, then I will not be put to shame, because God’s commandments cannot fail.” [2]

Wow. Wow, again.

As you and I are putting our total faith and trust in God, Bonhoeffer reminds us that God’s power holds those commands fast. The God who made heaven and earth is the guarantor of the Word of God. The faithful, merciful God is the God who regards you and me as beloved children, too.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for Your marvelous words. Thank You for causing Psalm 119 to be written down, and transmitted. Even for me and others across the world, who receive comfort and encouragement from this psalm’s straightforward words and actions.

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 109.

[2] Ibid.

@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

Sweet Simplicity of Clare of Assisi

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 22, 2017

simplicity, flowers

Sweet Simplicity of Clare of Assisi

When I read about saints of the Church, I often feel so inadequate. Clare of Assisi, for example. She took a vow of poverty, and lived a life of simplicity. The others in her community followed her into the privilege of poverty, too.

As I read about Clare, I wonder, why is it so very difficult for me to part with my stuff? I know my husband and I live in a small apartment. Sure, it’s crowded here, but we don’t have a huge house, with lots of furniture, electronic toys and an extra vacation cottage, boat, or snowmobile…

I ask again: WHY is it so SO very difficult for me to give up some of my stuff?

As Clare wrote to the Blessed Agnes:

“O God-centered poverty,/whom the Lord Jesus Christ

Who ruled and now rules heaven and earth,

Who spoke and things were made,/condescended to embrace before all else!” [1]

 

Clare considered it a privilege to live the simple life, and strove to be poor. She considered that way of life “to be strengthened in His holy service, and to progress from good to better, from virtue to virtue.” [2] Good grief, such sentiments seem to be far beyond anyone’s reach. (I guess that might be why she was considered a saint…)

From virtue to virtue. Dear Lord, what a thing to strive for. Help me—help all of us—to simplify our lives and to lighten our loads that we carry through this life. Thank You for Clare of Assisi’s example in dealing with these great issues of life. In Your Son’s 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.

 

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 135.

[2] Ibid, 136.

Phoebe Palmer and Her Study

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 17, 2017

bible studies

Phoebe Palmer and Her Study

I don’t know quite how to say this, but I couldn’t get into Phoebe Palmer. I sort of understand that she is a big deal, and considered an awesome spiritual and religious writer. Except, her writing and I just did not connect in a meaningful way.

Hypothetical question: what happens if you have no idea of what is going on in the short reading you have for homework? That is, other than following the very bare bones outline—sort of. What then? What if you need to write a one-page response about that reading?

Well, one way to handle it is to do kinda what I’m doing: talk about how it’s difficult to talk about an article you did not quite understand.

I agree with Richard Foster. “To us today Phoebe Palmer’s ‘shorter way’ seems terribly convoluted and torturous. We simply do not have the history of searching and struggling to enter ‘the way of holiness’ that characterized the ‘saints’ of Palmer’s day.” [1] Now, I have read some rather obscure Christian writings, and enjoyed them. (Some people wouldn’t read those various types of writing. I was glad to!) I tend to be accepting, even of alternative topics. Not, I suspect, like Ms. Palmer. She seems a bit esoteric and distant to me. (Sorry, Ms. Palmer.)

Gee, out of sixteen writers, only one did not connect with me. I consider that pretty great! Perhaps tomorrow will bring a different kind of writer. Lord willing!

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 105.

Praying Like Father Louf

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 5, 2017

la-musique-lute

Praying Like Father Louf

Amazing man of prayer, Father Louf. Comes from the Catholic faith stream, Belgian by birth, from a Cistercian community. He wrote a short book, Teach Us to Pray: Learning a Little about God. In this compilation, Richard Foster makes a judicious selection from Fr. Loef’s writing.

Is Praying Difficult? Ah. If you ask ten different people that question, you will probably receive ten different answers to that exact same question. Let’s allow Fr. Loef to give an illustration: “The lute-player bends over his instrument …. The lute has turned into music; and the man who strums upon it is taken out of himself, for the music is soft and entrancing…. The lute is his heart, the strings of which are the inward senses. To get the strings vibrating and the lute playing he needs a plectrum, in this case: the recollection of God, the Name of Jesus, the Word.” [1]

If I tried to explain exactly why prayer can be difficult, I would probably get my tongue all tied up in knots. But, Fr. Louf was able to describe this illustration in a vivid word picture. The strings of the heart are strummed in prayer. And, this illustration works on many levels. “You need only … persevere in the Word and in your heart, watching and praying. There is no other way of learning how to pray.” [2]

This coming alongside of each other is truly a remarkable way to get our hearts to be awakened. “That Word has been turned over and over in our heart. It has purified us, cleansed us, and we have grown familiar with it.” [3]

Just so. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, continue to show us how to pray and meditate in Your word.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 31-32.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 8, 2017

pray-blocks

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

When I slow down and get ready for prayer and meditation, I sometimes find myself automatically loosening up my shoulders, taking slow and even deep breaths, settling myself comfortably, or turning my head gradually from side to side. All this is my way of getting ready.

Thich Nhat Hanh has similar advice for his readers: “Set aside a room or a corner or a cushion that you use just for sitting. When you arrive there, you will immediately begin to feel some of the joy and relaxation that comes from sitting.” [1]

Relaxation and calmness are with me, and a part of me, most of the time now when I pray. However, I sometimes still find it difficult to generate the joy that the monk talks about here in this section from the book How to Sit. This is one of my current challenges, I know. (I am working on it.)

Gracious God, this quote reminds me of what joy and happiness can be found in prayer and meditation…Thich Nhat Hanh shows it so clearly. I know I ought to strive for that same joy. But—I feel the challenge. I realize this is difficult for me. Heck, I really am excited about feeling relaxed and calm most times, when I pray! (Much less feeling joy. One step at a time. That is what I keep telling myself.) Dear God, help me to persevere. And, thanks for the wonderful, unexplored world of prayer. I know I’ve just gotten started, in prayer. 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), 53.

In Which We Have an Election (Prayer)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 8, 2016

prayer-candles-on-blue-cloth

In Which We Have an Election (Prayer)

It is seldom I have difficulty formulating a thought. This evening, however, I am having that kind of difficulty.

The last few months have been challenging, divisive, and…difficult. To say the least.

I am so grateful to my good friend Episcopal Vicar Josh Thomas, and the website he maintains, www.dailyoffice.org. I humbly offer this Election Day prayer which he wrote, in hopes that it will begin to patch up the icy rifts and hurtful holes and jagged gashes in our American society, and between individuals, friends (sometimes former-friends), and even within families.

This has been quite an election season. Please God, may we roll up our sleeves and get to the business of forgiving, healing, working, and loving.

Here is Josh’s prayer:

For U.S. Election Day 2016
By Josh Thomas

Holy God, we ask your blessing on the election of a new President and Congress of the United States. This is such a divisive year, with very different visions offered by the candidates, with a background of war in many nations and the reality of violence at home. The results of our choices will resound throughout the world. Bless the candidates and voters; make all of us responsible for our actions; give us a clear result and a humble acceptance of the outcome, that peace and justice may prevail in this and every nation; through Jesus Christ, who came to save us from discord and violence and lead us to your heavenly home. Amen.

(Dear God, 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

In Which I Attend Worship on Thursday

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 21, 2016

worship, light

In Which I Attend Worship on Thursday

Thursday is a different kind of evening to have a worship service. An occasional service, at a Protestant church. I am not thinking of a regularly scheduled morning Mass, or a noonday service on a weekday. (For example, at a large church in a busy downtown area.)

However, this particular event was a different sort of service. Outside worship experience, too.

A service that highlighted the middle of things. The middle of summer, the middle of life, other types of midpoints. As Dante might say, midway through this journey of life.

There are good midpoints, not-so-good middles, bittersweet stopping points that are nearer to the end than what is first thought.

What do you think of middles? What kind of midpoints am I experiencing? Are things nearer now to the beginning, or the ending, or do we just not know?

All good questions. Valid, and thoughtful.

I appreciated the prayers, the hymns, the worship. The pastor—a new friend. The others who led the worship. All in all, a meaningful opportunity to gather in fellowship and in worship.

We are all in the middle of things. In medias res.

Gracious God, thank You for being right there, in the middle of things, right by our sides.  Thank You.

@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