Tag Archives: experience

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Mark 4 Hitda-Codex-Christ-and-Apostles-on-the-Sea-of-Galilee-c.-1025-50-CE

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Another person recounted his experience with prayer. Father Gallagher mentions how M. had begun his journey with Christianity eight years before the writing of this book. Except—M. very much wanted to experience God. His prayers were unsatisfying, as was his reading of Scripture. Then, he was invited into a prayer group, where they read the account of Jesus and His disciples in the boat during a storm on the sea of Galilee.

By his own account, M. had an experience that turned his relationship with Scripture, prayer, and with Jesus Himself upside down.

“It opened a new world for me…That evening, the Scripture came alive. I’d been passive, outside of it. It had just been a story. When I prayed in this way, I no longer felt like I was outside the story; I was in the story….but not so bound by it that I couldn’t ask something of Jesus or of Peter. And I realized that Jesus was not as far away as I thought. I found myself marveling at how near he was to me.” [1]

What a drastic change for M.’s Scripture reading and prayer life! How vital and vibrant his relationship with Jesus became.

I go through cycles with God. At times, I feel this deep, intense relationship with God—but not often. It is almost as if I am chasing this kind of experience, sometimes. I know I ought to be faithful, and continue to pray. And, I do. But, sometimes….

Yes, I have stories similar to M.’s account. I could tell of wonderful times of prayer. Mountain top prayers, I guess they are called. But, they are far and few between. I need to remind myself that I need to be faithful. That is what God wants from me—from us. Our faithfulness.

Dear God, forgive me for my lack of faith, and my hesitancy at consistent prayer. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Lead me to Yourself. In Jesus’s name I ask, 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 23.

Healed of Our Sufferings?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 22, 2015

suffering word cloud

Healed of Our Sufferings?

“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in full.” – Marcel Proust

When I look for healing and restoration of my sufferings, of my challenges, one of the last places I tend to look for others who will understand. Others who are acquainted with, and know my sufferings and challenges, first hand.

Sometimes, people are healed of the terrible experiences they have had by telling their stories. Oftentimes, people need the nurture and assistance of others who have had similar experiences.

Instead of internalizing my sufferings and challenges—in a negative manner—I can share them in a safe place. And, I can offer to listen to others sharing, in a similar safe place.

This is what telling my story is all about. This is me, remembering. This is me, being supportive, kind, and compassionate.

You or I may have had terrible relationships with other people, in the past. We may be trying to rebuild our relationship skills, even though we may still be thinking of loneliness and fearfulness. It is a fearful thing to be stuck in the past or in the future, stuck anywhere except the here and now.

I am encouraged by my friends and fellows to listen. Be supportive. Nurture, in safe places. I am encouraged by my Higher Power to concentrate on One Day at a Time. Today. Now.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest 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

God-Moments with the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 5, 2015

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

God-Moments with the Soul

The writer of today’s chapter, Marion Woodman, is an analyst. Her focus is on the individual moments that go into a soul-filled day. God-moments.

Actually, “God-moments” is a word I’ve just coined. That is, unless someone else thought of it first. I am only five chapters into this book, Handbook for the Soul.

Woodman speaks for herself. “We all experience ‘soul moments” in life. . . . During those moments, our body, as well as our brain, resonates as we experience the glory of being a human being.” [1] The word picture she paints of the glory and wonder of it? As the young people today might say, awesome.

Soul is important to Woodman, for without soul there cannot be a bridge between “spirit” and “body.” That is her way of arranging it. God (or Higher Power, or Eternal Source) remains intimately involved in her life.

A great big “Yes” to the fact that God is intimately involved in my life! I, on the other hand, still have mixed thoughts about the unseen. Some would say that I have some open-mindedness concerning my soul and its exact purpose. In short, I am not sure exactly what the soul’s purpose is. However, I think both Woodman and I agree that our souls need nourishment. Beneficial treatment.

“If we fail to nourish our souls, they wither, and without soul, life ceases to have meaning. Life becomes boring; it has no dimension.” [2] Yes! Souls need nutrients, nourishment. A great starting point on which to agree.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 33.

[2] Ibid, 34.


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

Windows into the Soul—and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 1, 2015

french window in Taylor House  (Some Old Dorchester Houses)

french window in Taylor House
(Some Old Dorchester Houses)

Windows into the Soul—and Prayer

It’s a new month, and I have a new book to help me in my prayer and meditation practice.

Handbook for the Soul is a compilation, a change of pace from my concentration on Ignatian spirituality in the month of May. This new book traces different ways of relating to our souls. This, the very first chapter, talks about transcendent experiences.

Each person’s individual experience of transcendence is different. It depends on what kind of impression each person brings to the situation. Or, spiritual presence, as described by the person themselves. It holds countless experiences of deep feelings or stirrings within the soul, itself.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of today’s reflection on soul, tells the reader that she has fairly regular experiences to reach up—or down—or deep into on the person. You and I, we stand at the presence, the soul, deep down.

Let me give you some experiences searching for the soul. In Jean Shinoda Bolen’s own words: “ . . . you don’t have to wait for disaster. You can open yourself to the possibility of nourishing your soul, and you can make it a priority. Take careful stock of the ways you spend your life energies, doing things that are not so nourishing. . . . When you’re so consumed, you don’t have very many moments in which to experience the soul.” [1]

Shinoda Bolen advises her readers to take stock of how deprived our lives are. Empty of sources of joy, beauty and creativity. Some individuals find nurture in those silent parts of their insides, their souls. Others remember some hidden or forgotten activity or pleasurable source of inner delight. Recognize it. Make room for it. Open yourself up to it. That is the thing—the soul-nourishing moment.

To be aware of the soul—a worthwhile concept. But, to nurture and nourish soul needs and give satisfaction to the soul? Is there anything more profoundly freeing?

Dear God, thank You for this reorientation towards the soul, and soul needs. Nurturing my inner being is a necessary part of life. You call us to care for ourselves as much as we care for others. Gracious God, be with us as we concentrate on this important focus. 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 blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook of the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995) 6.

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 16, 2015

snowy woods with sun

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Ever read the verses of a hymn and find yourself struck by the vivid imagery? Or amazed by the descriptive words used by the lyricist? Today’s prayer suggestion wanted me to read through a hymn composed by Cardinal Newman in the mid 1800’s, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

This is not my first time reading the words to hymns in prayer. A number of times I read the words of lyricist Isaac Watts and his brilliant paraphrases of Scripture, some years ago. I was struck by how, with the smallest turn of phrase, Watts could make the words of the Bible come to life. So many hymns of the 1700’s and 1800’s have words that hit me in the core of my being; make me lift my voice in praise, or cover my face in fear. (Unlike simplistic lyrics of certain praise songs today . . . but I digress.)

“Lead, Kindly Light.” I immediately could relate to the first verse! “The night is dark, and I am far from home.” That brought me into the experience of the lyricist. I knew what it was like to be wandering in the midst of a dark night. I, too, trod on dark paths, a long distance from my safe, warm bed.

The last verse, as is true with so many hymn lyrics, talks about coming home. Yet, this home Newman speaks of is not our earthly home, but home to heaven. And, I can easily think of myself as a child, especially in the arms of my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. Being carried close and led by the hand. I can remember doing the same thing when my children were small, too. Good memories!

Dear Lord, help me see through these worldly or careworn things, as Cardinal Newman could. As I read this hymn, give me fresh understanding. Not only to lift praise to You as I read, but also to be able to feel with others as they go through their places of dark night, far from home. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

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.

Prayer—and Walking the Labyrinth

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, September 28, 2014

labyrinth, St. John's Convent in Toronto

labyrinth, St. John’s Convent in Toronto

Prayer—and Walking the Labyrinth

I want to walk the labyrinth. I am feeling that, inside of me, more and more.

Some readers may know what the labyrinth is. (That’s great! I am so glad you do. I love to walk, from time to time, too!) I know I’ve talked about the labyrinth here before, but not for a number of months. I know many people are acquainted with many different methods of prayer, and approaches to God, and the labyrinth is another one of these. An innovative one, and at the same time, one that does not appeal to exactly everyone in the Christian community. But that’s okay.

The weather has been simply gorgeous here in the Chicago area for the past week. The forecast is for continued beautiful weather for the next number of days. Absolutely glorious for the last few days of September. But—I see gray days ahead as October approaches. With the coming of autumn, and cooler weather, the days will become shorter. Harvest time is now here, and will continue during the next weeks. And the year will continue to wind down to its close.

Reminds me of the labyrinth. The journey through life, through a place of waiting. A place of almost there, and of not quite yet. A journey of change—like the changing seasons. Yet, entering and exiting the labyrinth is like entering and exiting that journey of prayer and meditation, a journey of waxing and waning in life.

Yes, the weather may be absolutely gorgeous right now, in the last days of September. As October passes and November arrives, the weather will become more changeable. More blustery, wet, even unpleasant. Yet, the outdoor labyrinth I walk from time to time remains. It waits, quiet and expectant. Ready for those who wish to enter. Walk. Experience. Pray. Meditate. No matter what the weather is like. No matter what my experience with that time or place of waiting. Journey of change, of waxing and waning. Journey within myself. God willing, I’ll go to walk again, soon.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for giving us the labyrinth to walk. Thank You for the joy of prayer and meditation with You—and if the labyrinth helps me concentrate on You, on occasion, that’s great! I praise You for drawing me—and so many others—close to You. Thank You for this journey I’ve embarked on. Help me, and help so many others, to walk close to You. Lord, in Your mercy and grace, hear our prayers.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

All I Need is—Love?

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LOVE heart candle flower

All I Need is—Love?

As I got ready to settle down for my time of prayer and meditation this morning, I couldn’t find the book on prayer I intended to use for my prayer time. I had a specific person and burden on my mind, and I wanted that particular book! Alas, I could not find it. However, I do have several others. (Ha.) Anyone looking at my bookshelf on prayer and meditation would see at least two dozen books. I nipped over to the bookshelf. Handy, having several bookcases in the bedroom. I perused the shelf on prayer, and I grabbed a book that I had not read thoroughly before.

This book was given to me as a Christmas present from a good friend, several years ago: The World According to Mister Rogers – Important Things to Remember. It’s not a “proper” book, but instead a selection of short readings by Mister Rogers, loosely grouped together in sections. I knew that Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister. He had attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary before he became so well-known and beloved, as he dedicated his life to serving and helping children through public television.

I turned to the section on Understanding Love. Amazing thing: the first page I turned to was a page that happened to hold some meaningful insights into the burden I had in mind. I read the vignette from Fred Rogers’s life. He was visiting a woman in the hospital who had received a terminal diagnosis for recurring cancer. This was not just any woman, but a preeminent teacher of doctors and psychiatrists, and a consultant to professionals world-wide. She had a thorough knowledge of the development of human beings. Fred came to see her in the hospital, where she was quite weak and frail, but still fully awake and aware.

I quote from Fred Rogers: “Some of the time I just held her hand and we said nothing. We didn’t have to. After one of those silences, Helen said to me, “Do you ever pray for people, Fred?” “Of course I do.” So I said, “Dear God, encircle us with Thy love wherever we may be.” And Helen replied, “That’s what it is, isn’t it? —it’s love. That’s what it’s all about.”

At the end of the day, the summation of a brilliant woman who had spent her life studying the intricacies and complexities of human development was love. Love is what it’s all about.

Accordingly, I prayed for God’s love to encircle each of my children. I prayed for them individually, and together. I prayed for God’s love to encircle my husband, and I made special mention of his health (a common, garden-variety cold, but still). And, I prayed for God’s love to encircle me. I could vividly feel God’s arms of care and concern round about me, too. A stunning experience of prayer. And of the love of God.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for turning me towards this book of Mister Rogers. Thank You for this awesome, welcoming experience of prayer. God, I pray for my children and my friends, my family and my acquaintances, that each of them might feel encircled by Your love. Wherever each of us may be on our separate journeys. I pray that especially for each one reading these words—may each one feel encircled by You. God, You know our experiences, our trials, our joys. Thank You for Your everlasting arms of love. In Your grace, mercy, and love, amen.


Carrying Baggage

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 8, 2014

smiley ball

Carrying Baggage

My memories are powerful. When I experience life today, I can’t help but think of today through the lens of my memories.

Emotions get involved, too. For example, I can talk to a family member and at the same time remember past interactions I’ve had with them. Happy, sad, angry, or frightened. These memories might color the present conversation I’m having today.

Sound, sight, hearing, understanding, aspects of my body—all of this affects my memories, too. I was particularly struck by Tilden Edwards’ comments on Re-membering from his book Living in the Presence. Instead of positive memories coloring my understanding of today’s happenings and conversations, our memories can be haunting. Running the old tapes over and over reinforces negative thinking. It might affect my perception of today and cause it to become unhelpful, unfruitful, even painful.

As Edwards suggests, God wants us to come closer. To draw near. To “participate in making all things new (Rev. 21:5).” God offers fresh moments to each of us, each day. I don’t have to carry all kinds of baggage with me—whether physical, spiritual, mental or emotional. I am urged to put down those old bags, those raggedy, tattered bags, those stinky, rancid bags. God can make all things new. God can make me new, each day. Can free me from carrying a heavy pack  on my back. God can make you new and fresh and free, too.

A clean slate, new every morning. Thank You, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for Your promises, new every morning. Thank You for your faithfulness to each one of us, every day. Forgive me for fleeing from You, for staying in my own head, and running those negative tapes over and over. You want to free me from all that! Thank You for urging me to put down all the unnecessary bags I’m carting around. Thank You for making all things new. Including me. Amen.


Comfort and Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 28, 2013

Comfort and Prayer

I went to a funeral today. An elderly person close to me died recently. Today was a celebration of long, fruitful life as well as a grieving for someone who has passed beyond our immediate connection. Into God’s gracious hands.

As a chaplain and caregiver, I frequently am put in the position of communication with elderly individuals. I enjoy coming alongside of them, traveling with them for a little while. My heart goes out to these dear people. Each one has a story. Whether big events or little circumstances, whether traveling to far places for years or staying in one place for an entire lifetime—I always can listen to and learn from their personal stories.

This particular, much-loved senior had a full life. I heard many personal anecdotes today. Many remembrances, and a great deal of love and caring was shared from a long and blessed life.

I realize that some are less blessed in their lives, but each one has a continuing story. As I listen to each story, I can rejoice with the teller, or share their concern or pain. I can offer to pray, and bring their story before God—with or without words. That’s my privilege, to journey with individuals, couples, or families. Whether at a care center, a private home, or on the street, it doesn’t matter. God is still here. And I can come alongside people with the ministry of presence.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the opportunity to come together, in community. Thank You for the blessed, yet difficult, experience of grieving and mourning. I know You are with each of us, every day—whether we realize it or not. Forgive me, God, for forgetting You so often. Lead me—lead us—to a blessed understanding of Your presence by our sides, each day. Thanks for Your care, Your comfort, and Your encouragement. God, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

water and sunset