Tag Archives: expressions

Benefits of Prayer Practice

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-ps-46-1Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 19, 2017


Benefits of Prayer Practice

When I practice being aware of my breathing, I automatically begin to relax. I find myself breathing intentionally, and I move more slowly and deeply.

These are all good, beneficial things.

The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh lists several additional, positive things that he sees happen as a result of breathing, meditation and prayer. “Sitting and breathing mindfully brings four important elements into our lives: peace, clarity, compassion, and courage.” [1]

The teacher doesn’t touch too much on either peace or clarity in this reading, but he does mention compassion and courage. I had actually connected compassion with prayer, and loving, outward acts as outgrowths or expressions of concerted meditation and prayer. However, I had not thought about the way courage is also highlighted through prayer and meditation.

Thich Nhat Hanh equates mercy and compassion towards others with a compassion toward myself. He claims (with some validity) that a healthy sense of compassion and care for others translates into the capacity to think, speak and act in a similarly compassionate way toward myself. (And, this capacity does indeed cut through a great deal of red tape.)

The teacher has highlighted a fascinating cause-and-effect relationship. Something for all of us to be concerned about and aware of. Dear God, thank You for helping me to be aware, too.



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), 66.

PEACE: Tranquil State of Mind

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 9, 2016


PEACE: Tranquil State of Mind

Today I will share some special personal definitions of PEACE. I had the opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove last Sunday afternoon.

After the presentation on clear communication, the president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?” The responses I received? Some were quite similar to what I have been gathering for the past two months. And, some were poignant, even heart-wrenching.

Hina’s personal definition: “PEACE is tranquility.”

Short, simple, effective. When I asked her for more information,her description was simple, too: “I want peace everywhere. That’s calm, no disturbance.”

Hina, you are so right. That is my hope and prayer.

Kulsum Tariq is the principal of the Sunday school where their community does continuing education. Tarig’s defintion caused many people to think about various ways PEACE happens.

He was so kind to write down all of these: “Peace is harmony between people or groups; treaty marking the end of a war.”

True words, indeed! Thank you also for your kindness in suggesting these expressions of PEACE, Tariq.

Gracious, merciful God, we give thanks to You for communication. Help us to have open ears to hear diverse voices. Help us bring open hearts to conversations. Thank You, God.



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

Solstice Observation–Midwinter Celebration?

Centuries ago, in the time before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, this time of the waning year was a time of darkness. And a time of light. The darkness comes from the lessening of sunlight each day (here in the Northern hemisphere). The light comes from the varying celebrations that many cultures, tribes and language groups feature, throughout the world. Different religions have different expressions of the death and rebirth of light and life. Different understandings recognize the death of the old year and rebirth of the new.

On this Midwinter day, I know several people here in my town who are observing the Winter Solstice. This weekend is their celebration, instead of Christmas. The origins of the Midwinter festival reach back to pre-Christian times, and are seeing a resurgence in some places today.

God, You’ve implanted this deep desire for Light, for Hope, for blessing and celebration. I think it is counter-intuitive for God to send Light and Hope into the world as a little Baby. (It just doesn’t make sense!) Yet, that is just how God decided to work. The Old Testament book Isaiah also mentioned Light. Isaiah 9:2 reads: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” As Advent draws to a close, the time of celebration of the Light and Hope of the world draws near, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for this deep desire implanted in so many. Not only is there a desire for Light and Hope at this time of darkness and little hope, but You provide an answer for those searching. Not only have You placed a God-shaped void in the human heart (as Augustine said), but You have followed through with the promise of Someone to fill that empty place. Thank You for the coming of the Light of the world, the Hope of all nations. Amen.


(also posted at http://www.matterofprayer.net)

Leaving Advent Calendars Behind

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 16, 2013

Advent calendars are wonderful. Great ways to show small children, visually, how many days have to pass before Christmas comes. I have used Advent calendars in my house for years. They are pretty and useful. In years past, the young people here have really appreciated the yearly calendar. But now, my two younger children are in their late teens. Yes, I got an Advent calendar, but my 19 year old did not want to open any windows (this year, at least). And my 16 year old is opening windows in the calendar, but is not particularly excited about it.

What do I do when some Advent activity or small tradition of Christmas is left behind? How will I feel? Will my unrealistic expectations be dashed? What then?

This is where prayer comes in. Prayer can be calming. Prayer can be life-saving. I can pour out my disappointment to God in prayer, and get some relief. (some release, too!) I know, intellectually, that my children are growing and changing. As each new year passes and each December proceeds toward Christmas, I need to grow and change, too. My prayer life helps me come to terms with that part.

God knows our disappointment and fear, as well as our anxiety, anger and distress. God is familiar with our joy, excitement, and laughter, too. These are God-given expressions, meant to express our feelings, desires and the innermost cries of our hearts. (chuckles, too!) God calls us to pray, to communicate, to curl up alongside and have a heart-to-heart talk. Just what I need, so often.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for such wonderful ideas as Advent calendars! But help me come to terms with facts: my younger children are growing beyond such things. I know You can bring me—You can bring us—to fresh understandings of the Advent season. Thank You for this time of preparation. Prepare our hearts to receive You. Amen!