Tag Archives: difficulty

Problems of Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017


Problems of Meditation?

Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.

His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” [1]

Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.

I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)



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), 26.

Prayer Can Be an Encouragement

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 12, 2016

PRAY God's help a prayer away

Prayer Can Be an Encouragement

A friend of mine asked me for prayer for an ongoing issue. A serious issue. Of course, I said.

What about when things are serious for you? Difficult? Complex? Intellectually, I know God ought to protect and support. Encourage. However, sometimes things are continuing. Ongoing.

What then? Is God still our refuge and strength? Our present help in times of trouble? Will God watch over our goings and comings?

I feel for people who are in continuing difficulties, or griefs. Anxiety and fear are so prevalent in so many situations. .

Our help does indeed come from the Lord. But, why is the situation (or, situations) still ongoing? I cannot tell for sure. I don’t know. I need to trust God, and trust that my friend will be protected, supported, encouraged, and loved.

God willing. 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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 26, 2015

JOY today I choose joy

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

I have difficulty with contemplative kinds of things. My mind is just too active. Last month, when I actually tried to pray using contemplative Centering Prayer, I did pray in that way each day in September. However, I did not have as fruitful a month as I have when I used some other prayer styles.

I chose a smaller portion: a piece of a prayer by E.B. Pusey (1800-1882). It concerns “For Thine Is the Kingdom” (Prayer 499, page 147) [1] The prayer is about Contemplation.

“Thou who hast loved us, make us to love Thee./Thou who hast sought us, make us to seek Thee,/Thou who, when lost, didst find us,/ Be Thou Thyself the way,/That we may find Thee/And be found in Thee,/Our only hope, and our everlasting joy.”

I get the feeling that God is the Lover, the Seeker, the Finder. God initiates. That goes along with my experience, as well as my beliefs.

I freely acknowledge that God is named as my Heavenly Parent several times in both the Old and New Testaments. As such, I (or, in several cases, the nation of Israel) happen to be referred to as a child. Hosea 11 even calls the Lord’s child (Israel) a toddler. And, I understand why. I am okay with that.

Dear Lord, I am so sorry I have such difficulty in contemplation. I can’t do it for very long. I know You have made different people for different things. I just know I have very little skill in contemplating and Centering Prayer.

I know some have found what they are good at! That is great. Bless them. I know I can’t center very easily … but thank You some people can. And, I especially thank You that some of these people find great joy and contentment in their centering and contemplation. Bless them.

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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 147.

Walk through Soul’s Gateway

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gothic arched gate - credit Bell of Contentment

Walk through Soul’s Gateway

Some people consider difficulty we might have with life a problem, a “hole” in our souls. However, I particularly enjoy the expression that Angelos Arrien used: “gateway to the soul.” Moreover, “the need to be who we are always brings us back to soul.” [1]

If I look at the calendar, we are approaching the end of June. This chapter of Handbook for the Soul is near the end of the book. (Yes, we are coming close to the End.).

It seems as if Arrien was correct in relating the short story about the person knocking on the heavenly door. The person was admonished that he (or she) had not been as much themselves during their life and they could have been. Not as much “Elizabeth” or “Kevin” or “Dolores” or “Jack” as each person had the potential for being. (Appropriate for the home stretch, as well.)

More about a “hole” in our souls: not real. (At least according to Arrient.) Instead, our orientation ought to be that of a gateway. Each of us has the potential to go through the soul gate . . . instead of looking “for something to plug the hole, rather than going through the gate to reconnect with their souls,” [2]

Oh, and personality is important for finding a way to open up. I mean, finding like-minded people of the offense. God willing, we each can find God. No matter what kind of personality, or activity type, God continues to draw us into the place where “we” are. Today.


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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 175.

[2] Ibid, 176.

Distracted in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 24, 2015

praise the Lord Psa 148

Distracted in Prayer?

How to be distracted in prayer. That’s easy. That is frequently my state of mind when praying. How not to be distracted? Ah. That’s much more to the point. And, much more what I need, most times when I pray.

It doesn’t matter what sort of prayer I am praying. I almost always have some kind of distraction going on. I’ll admit it. Doesn’t matter whether I am using Ignatian prayer, lectio divina, centering prayer, or saying the Lord’s Prayer. I still have difficulty focusing my whole heart and mind on God.

That’s what I’m supposed to be doing. Isn’t it?

Yes. And, no. Yes—because communication with God/Higher Power/Source is what I am striving for, hoping for, longing for. And, no—because sometimes God is trying to get my attention, and by having persistent thoughts come into my mind, God can certainly get me thinking about a specific thing, or person, or situation. I’ll usually pray about it then, too.

I know this month we are examining Ignatian prayer practice. However, I wanted to stress the part about distraction in prayer. I ought to be as persistent as the widow before the dishonest judge, and how she continued to pray, persisted in prayer.

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to focus on You when I pray, and not get distracted. (I know very well this is a tall order!) Except—when You are trying to communicate with me. Thank You for the intimate means of communication with You through the means of prayer. You’re the best. Truly.


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 .

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Act of Charity—Carried Out

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 12, 2015

encouraging word cloud

Act of Charity—Carried Out

I was a little surprised by the prayer suggestion for today. It’s an action, not necessarily a prayer. Well, sort of both. I’ve been told I have some of the gift of encouragement. I sure used it today.

I was supposed to plan an act of charity for someone in need. And, endeavor to carry it out. I think I did that. Not quite as actively helpful in the way of doing something—like I posted on my other blog, where I helped out a senior citizen by vacuuming her apartment. But all the same, I think it counts.

Here’s the basis for the act today. I have a friend, some distance from here. She has had continuing difficulty with an acquaintance for a number of months, on and off. I have been praying for her and the situation. Today, I wrote her an encouraging email. I let her know I think her handling of this continuing situation is (and has been) just superb. I really mean that.

I think encouragement helps! Truly.

In the book of Acts, Barnabas was one of the early followers of the risen Christ. He was also a great one for encouragement. That’s what his name means. Imagine, being so encouraging to his fellow believers that they chose a new name for him? Specifically, “Son of Encouragement.” What’s more, Barnabas was living through some very uncertain times. I suspect it was not easy for him to act as a positive, encouraging voice, as one who assists others and is a fine example of how to act, even though times are difficult.

So, how did I realize God was there, through this act of charity? My friend thanked me for my continued prayers, and appreciated my reassurance. Plus—those things I wrote? They just seemed like the right things to say. True, and honest. Genuine. I hope and pray that my words were a comfort and support to my friend, reaching out through her computer and giving her a big hug.

Charity = love = encouraging email. Works for me; I hope it worked for my friend. I pray so!

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.

Showing Up—Faithful in Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FAITH bridge between me and where God takes me

Showing Up—Faithful in Prayer

For years, I have been struggling with being faithful in prayer. It’s not that I find prayer a drudgery. Or, a task I would rather not do, but feel I ought to do. I do enjoy prayer. Really, I do!

However, for years (for decades, even), I have had difficulty with the showing-up-part. God and I have had lots of conversations about this. I have come before the Lord, metaphorical hat in hand, and said “sorry” more times than I can count. Sorry that I was not more regular in prayer. Apologized that I let the whole day (and evening) slip away again, and only came to God really late at night, when I was half asleep on my feet.

Thank goodness something changed. I still don’t know quite what, but it was something I can’t really put my finger on. It was last fall. A really turbulent time in my personal life. Not that I haven’t had other turbulent times in my life before that, because I have. Many. I am no stranger to stuff happening. All manner of trauma, from all kinds of directions.

God has seen me through several decades of this drama. Or, trauma. Or, what have you. However we describe it. Yes, I have been an intermittent pray-er. I love prayer! I have felt so close to God—in such a warm, intimate relationship that I could hardly wait to get back to prayer! But . . . I could never be anything near consistent.

Until last fall. I was using a prayer guide, and doing well. Most days in the week. And then, it got to be almost every weekday. November slipped into December, and I continued with another prayer guide—an Advent reading book of devotions.

Then, 2014 started. I felt led to begin my other blog, A Year of Being Kind (365 Days of Service). On those days that I didn’t pray, I began to feel as if something were missing. Seriously. Yeah, this is me saying this, God. Remember our previous conversations, years ago? When I would come before You, asking forgiveness about my sporadic prayer life? (Yeah, I thought You might remember.)

What do I think about my prayer life right now? I need to suit up. Show up. And whenever, wherever I come into the Lord’s presence, God will be there. God is faithful. I am heartily glad that God is not as sporadic as I have been. Or still am.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for being faithful. Your faithfulness is not only to me, but it is to all generations. Thank You for being there for me—for us. Even though I am so often sporadic in attendance, You aren’t. Help me to continue in regular prayer. Regular conversation and communion with You. Thanks for letting us know how important it is to suit up and show up. In Your grace, mercy and love we pray, Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Doubting? Who’s Doubting What? Who? (Me?)

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, May 23, 2014


Doubting? Who’s Doubting What? Who? (Me?)

I preached on John 20 a few weeks ago, where the disciple Thomas couldn’t (wouldn’t?) believe that the risen Jesus had appeared to the other disciples. About that time, I happened to read a blog post of an Internet acquaintance of mine, Barry, featuring Caravaggio’s intense painting “Incredulity of Thomas.” He gave some indepth analysis of the painting, which shows the risen Christ baring His side to Thomas, inviting Thomas to touch and see that it was indeed Him. In the flesh.

My acquaintance used some excellent Ignatian prayer principles, through inviting his readers to look at the expressions on the faces in the picture. Consider the placement, the movement of hands in this poignant scene. And especially—wonder where you—where I—would be in the picture.

I suspect Thomas was one of those sorts of people who needed concrete proof. Who wanted to know why. Who wanted most (if not all) of the answers.

Using Ignatian prayer and these questions, I could meditate on this picture for a good long time! But my acquaintance Barry didn’t stop there. He ended the post with several thought-questions, to consider. Meditate on. Pray over. One significant question was “How do you feel when you don’t have all the answers?”

Regarding this question, I prefer to have all the information I can. However, after several decades of being an adult and living life, I realize I can’t have all the information! Sometimes, not much information at all. And that’s okay to me, now.

One of my usual explanations I’ve used for some years refers to this concept, precisely. In my journey through life, I sometimes find myself walking through a broad, wide-spread expanse. It’s really foggy. I mean, a pea-soup type fog. I’m holding a lantern. Even with the light, I can’t see more than a step, maybe two, in front of me. But as I said, that’s okay. I know God is right next to me. Even when I can’t see God, I know God’s there. So of course I feel okay about things! (some of the time, at least)

But—what about when the lantern goes out? Darkness. Absence. Unknowing. (What then?)

Periodically, I have been through the wringer. However, I have come out the other side. I don’t know whether you are familiar with 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, but those are two verses that have come to mean much to me. The pain, difficulties and challenges I have experienced are/have been transformed as God has quietly been with me, through them. I can therefore journey alongside of others who are currently or have recently been going through challenging, painful experiences of their own.

Is it easy? Simple? Walk in the park? By no means!! But just as God is with me, in quietness, in that still, small voice, or even in the blessed silence, so I can be with others in their pain.

Let’s come to God and pray. Dear God, One who knows each of us intimately, You understand our hearts. You understand our doubts, our fears, just as much as You understood Thomas. Thank You for Your abundant, forgiving love. Help us—help me to come to You with a trusting heart, and put my hand—our hands in Yours. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayer.

– See Barry’s posts at: http://turningthepage.info/who-are-you-jesus/#sthash.bh6fBLND.dpuf


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net