Tag Archives: difficulty focusing

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

Center on the Vine? Abide? Remain?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 29, 2015

VINE Vine stained glass John 15

Center on the Vine? Abide? Remain?

I purposely chose a Name of God that has given me difficulty for years. This particular Name comes from John 15:5. My Name of God for today is Vine.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” This is Jesus talking to the disciples in the Upper Room Discourse. I have had difficulty—for years and years!—with that simple word “abide.” For the life of me, I could not get the concept through my head. I kept going around and around. As far as John 15 was concerned, “abide” meant “remain.” And “remain” meant “reside.” Which also meant “abide.” Argh!!

I finally had a kind of a breakthrough while reading a bible commentary on John about two years ago. I can’t for the life of me remember which commentary this was, but the writer drew a comparison of camping versus building a proper house. When I abide in Christ, I am taking up residence, putting down roots. It is no fly by night kind of thing—unlike temporary camping, where I could set up a tent for a night or two, and be gone the next.

Since I had that breakthrough and now am better able to comprehend what Jesus was saying in John 15, I thought I might choose this particular Name.

One might think that the words Jesus used in this chapter might have helped me, or given me a mental picture. No. No such luck here. I have no idea why, but I have had difficulty with this image and this concept for years and years. (And I am usually a visual person!)

However, I persevere. I tried to center and focus with this Name of God. I even tried some Ignatian-prayer-type focus. Alas, I am not very good with this meditative type of prayer. Centering and focusing? Not right now, apparently. At least not today.

Dear Lord Jesus, I know I did try to center and focus on You today. I wonder what You think of me as I founder and flounder about, in prayer? I did not have the sense that the Holy Spirit was as present as at other times. (I know, I very well could be wrong about that.) But I felt particularly un-focused. Dear Lord, the best I can say is that I tried. And, I hope that my prayers to You rise before You like incense. Thank You for listening.


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

Looking at the Past—Prayerfully

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 9, 2015

plowing - with an Egyptian farmer

plowing – with an Egyptian farmer

Looking at the Past—Prayerfully

I’m taking another chance with this passage from 1 Kings 19: Elisha plowing with oxen, and Elijah telling the younger man that he has a special calling from God.

I am not going to think about this particular passage in a negative light (since I had difficulty focusing on this as a ‘failure.’ Instead, it’s a new night, and a new beginning. And, look at the source material! As I examine what Margaret Silf suggests [1], I can compare myself to someone plowing. In a field, which is the world.

Aren’t we all plowing—doing our own thing in the world? Walking the wide field, the bright blue sky above, rich earth beneath my feet, and the oxen making noises, grunts. That’s where many of us are, I suspect. But as I look around this wide field/world, I can tell I am not alone. Not totally, anyway.

Silf encourages her readers to think of the various people who helped guide them in learning and using their particular plows. I remember several good friends who have stayed by my side over the years. Yes. I remember a therapist, a spiritual director, certain professors in seminary. All helped me to keep my furrow straight.

Has anyone mentioned you and your progress through life? Possibilities are (or, have been) presented that come out of the painful places in the past, as well as those happy, productive times, too? Yeah. Me, too. Thank God that I am in a place where I know I am loved by God, and where I feel loved, encouraged and supported. (By a few people, at least!)

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for bringing special people into each of our lives. Thank You for those things they have taught us. I pray for each dear one. Give each one the support they need, right now. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


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 sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 13.