Tag Archives: faithful

Hope, Turn Toward God in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 24, 2018

hope - cursive

Hope, Turn Toward God in Prayer

I had the unusual experience of questioning what Father Nouwen said in his book just now. “Only if you pray with hope can you break through the barriers of death.” [1] I did not quite understand what he was saying here. I know I might be believing pie-in-the-sky sort of theology, but I suspect that what Father Nouwen seems to say here goes against what I have always believed. In other words, that if I do NOT have hope, then I am out of luck, in terms of prayer.

That statement, on the surface, goes against everything I have learned of God and of prayer. However, that is only one sentence in this small section on hope and prayer.

Several sentences further down, Nouwen said “When you pray with hope, you turn yourself toward God, trusting fully that God is faithful and makes all promises real.” [2]

Now, THAT I can understand. Praying with hope. Turning toward God. Trusting in God.

When you or I take what we know of God and pray with what hope we have in our hearts (even if it is only a mustard-seed’s-worth of hope), then you—I—we turn towards God. Isn’t that enough? Or, do I need to quantify my hope and my prayers to God?

“As long as there is still hope/There will also be prayer…

And you will be held/in God’s hands.” [3]

This is what I understand. This is what I relate to, and what my heart opens toward. When I open my heart in prayer, when I have even a tiny scrap of hope inside of me, that is enough. God will still hold me in God’s hands of love and caring. For that, I truly thank the Lord.

@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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 75.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 76.

Bring Prayer into My Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 14, 2018

hands folded in prayer

Bring Prayer into My Life

Going back to the original reason for this blog, I want to pray on a more regular basis. Yes, I realize this is a never-ending odyssey for me, in my spiritual life. Yes, God and I have had many conversations about this lack or deficit, for decades. And, I am going to try again. (Somehow, that quote from Yoda in the original Star Wars movie, “A New Hope,” comes to mind. “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” )

Dear Lord, taking a snippet from popular culture—and from Yoda (whom I love), I want to do. Not try, but do.

Over the next little while, I am going to read one of Henri Nouwen’s marvelous books called With Open Hands. In this slim volume, he examines his own personal experience with prayer. And as he says, “…could it be that what is most personal for me, what rings true to the depths of my being, also has meaning for others?” [1]

This book is distilled down from a number of conversations with twenty-five theology students. Father Nouwen and the students variously prayed, conversed, and contributed. As Fr. Nouwen says, this book “took form during many hours of intimate conversation, which could possibly be called hours of praying.” [2]

I already know Nouwen’s work. I have read (at various times) five other books he wrote. I am very much looking forward to this one. I know how faithful Nouwen was to his spiritual disciplines, and I pray I can be half as faithful.

Dear Lord, as I embark with Father Nouwen on this journey of prayer, I want to pray regularly. I want to get closer to You. Help me remain consistent. Knowing that Jesus is right by my side every day, I pray all of these things. 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), vii.

[2] Ibid, viii.

Straying from God’s Commands

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Psa 119-21 scroll

Straying from God’s Commands

We come to the abbreviated end of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s meditations on Psalm 119. Verse 21 was the last of these short comments into Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the Bible. I wish Bonhoeffer had been able to write more, because I get such insight from him. (both into his heart as well as into the psalm) Bonhoeffer truly loved the Word of God. With this acrostic psalm praising and lifting up God’s Word in every verse, it is little wonder that Bonhoeffer should have been drawn to it.

This verse 21 is a bit of a downer—more than a bit, actually. Let’s take a look at it:

You have rebuked the insolent;

Cursed are they who stray from Your commandments!

God hates the insolent, Bonhoeffer says. The self-satisfied, puffed-up ones. Even more, those “who care nothing for justice and mercy, who despise the Word of God and the faithful.” [1]

I get the feeling that Pastor Bonhoeffer really has distaste for these people. People who despise the God he loves and follows with all his heart, and who despise the Word of God and those who are faithful to that God, too. Bonhoeffer pins these self-satisfied people to the wall with a direct blow: “The cross of Jesus Christ, which shows that God is with the weak and the humble, is God’s rebuke to the insolent.” [2]

What a way to deliver an uppercut to the jaw. (Theoretically and metaphorically, of course.) Bonhoeffer truly believes that the cross of Christ is the remedy and the antidote to the insolent of this earth, humanity puffed up with pride and self-importance.

Of course, you and I know that oftentimes the innocent, the weak, the downtrodden are stepped upon by the powerful. These humble ones are wrongfully accused, oppressed, and abused. We see “the visible judgments of God remain hidden and obscure even for the faithful.” [3]

Yet…and yet…are these words only for others? Or, are the words of this verse for ourselves, too? Are you and I insolent, at times? Do you or I feel self-satisfied or proud? Do we stray from God’s commands—sometimes? I see myself in this mirror. Sometimes. Ah, Pastor Bonhoeffer, you have hit home. I bow my head, humbly asking God for forgiveness.

These words are so appropriate for this Shrove Tuesday, with Ash Wednesday tomorrow. God’s blessings to all as we start our Lenten journey to the cross, alongside of our Savior and Friend the Lord Jesus.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 133.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 19, 2017

Matt 6-31 worry word cloud

Simplicity, According to Martin Luther

I just love Martin Luther. Perhaps it is because I was baptized, confirmed, and brought up in the Lutheran Church. Perhaps it was because I read some of Martin Luther’s writings in high school, as well as a biography and several church history books about him. (So, yes. I do know a few things about Martin.)

It was with great joy that I read this selection from Martin’s writings on the Sermon on the Mount, specifically 6:25-34.

I considered Martin’s heartfelt, plain-spoken words to hit the nail on the head: “Now, since the birds have learned so well the art of trusting [God] and of casting their cares from themselves upon God, we who are His children should do so even more….When we listen to the little birds singing every day, we are listening to our own embarrassment before God and the people….Here you have another example and analogy; according to it, the little flowers in the field, which cattle trample and eat, are to become our theologians and masters and to embarrass us still further.” [1]

Yes, I felt the sting of Martin Luther’s words. (I think his words were supposed to sting!) Yes, sting, and convict our hearts. When Martin finally comes around to verses 31 and 32 (“Now let these illustrations persuade you to lay aside your anxiety and your unbelief and to remember that you are Christians and not heathen.”), suddenly it is as if the sun has come out, flowers bloom and birds sing gaily. “[God] will not forsake you. He is faithful and willing to take special care of you Christians, because as has been said, He cares for the birds of the air as well.” [2]

Talk about having faith and trust in simplicity! Martin Luther had it in abundance. When I feel as if the anxiety or stress is growing by leaps and bounds, I can halt, quiet myself internally, take stock, and try to calm myself. Center myself. Breathe, slow down, and loosen up the tight muscles, shoulders and back. It really does help to make things more manageable. (Can I get an “amen” to that?)

Dear Lord, thank You for this wonderful example. Thank You for reminding me about Martin Luther, and about his view of scripture and of faith and trust. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 122.

[2] Ibid, 124.

Pray on a Gray Day

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 28, 2016

rainy-day-branches

Pray on a Gray Day

Today was a wet, dreary, gray day. Chilly and cold. Damp, too. Altogether unpleasant.

I know it is not a huge thing, but I have a confession to make: I did not pray, much. In retrospect, the day probably would have been a bit more positive if I had. However, I did not pray. Much.

I did do a whole lot of computer work today, though. I suppose I could say that the computer work was urgent. Wasn’t prayer urgent, too?

God, You must be really tired of me by this time. The way I cycle through faithful and faithless, I mean. Yes, I stick to my plans for a good, steady prayer time, for a while. (It depends, on the whether. Whether I can or not.) But sooner or later, I fall off. Fall back into my old, prayer-less ways.

For the past few years at Advent, I try my darnedest to be faithful to my devotional readings. Each year, I do follow them to a fair extent. So, yay! At least I’ve had a fair track record, for several years running.

Speaking of prayer, let’s pray.

Dear God, thank You for this period of waiting and preparation. Help me to be more faithful to You, even though times in my life are not as rosy as they could be. Gracious God, thank You for loving me with Your everlasting love. Lord, help me to be an example of watchful, hopeful waiting these next few weeks.

@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 the Middle of Things—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 22, 2016

autumn-harvest-bounty

In the Middle of Things—in Prayer

Ever had what seems to be a hundred things going on at once? Yeah—me, too.

Don’t come to me for advice. (Please.) But, I do listen to some wise people. Sometimes.

Yes, I have work stuff happening, and continuing to happen. Yes, there is quite a bit of family stuff happening, both in my extended family as well as my husband’s family. On top of everything else, a major holiday is coming up, soon. Even more stuff is happening because of that.

All of which is totally overwhelming, if I let myself think about it too much.

This season in my life reminds me of some years ago, when I was in graduate school, full-time. I had a family. I worked two internships, half-time, my second and third years of graduate school. You better believe I was busy!. I could not even think of a full semester of my class work at a time. My brain would short circuit.

I got used to thinking of only a day or two, or at most, three. That was all. Just a couple of days at a time. The only exceptions were when I had a big project or a major paper. Those I would think about a week or two ahead of time. Unwillingly. Believe me, the people who stick to the idea of “One Day at a Time” really have hit on something.

So, that is what I am doing now. Concentrating on just a day, or maybe, two, at a time. I hope and pray I can be faithful and courageous.

Dear God, help me as I try to get things done, just a little at a time. Be attentive to my loved ones, and especially the situation with a dear one in hospice, Lord. Help me to decide and discern what to do first, second and third, each day, and what can be left for another day. Thank You for Your blessings poured out upon us each day and every day. 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