Tag Archives: fearful

Trying to Keep God’s Statutes

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 9, 2017

Psa 119-8 keep statutes, bible

Trying to Keep God’s Statutes

As I return to the anthology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s shorter writings, I was drawn up short by his reflections on Psalm 119:8 –

I will keep Your statutes;

do not utterly forsake me.

Bonhoeffer is struck by the words “I will.” He does not want to misinterpret them, or especially to try to take or use those words in a perverse way. As he says, “We must first unlearn the way in which we say ‘I will’ before the Holy Spirit can teach us to say it in a new and right way.” [1]

Oh, you and I can twist and manipulate words and phrases in any number of ways. Especially through justifying our actions (either beforehand or after the fact) and making ourselves to look pure and guiltless. “In matters of piety, the ‘I will’ can cause the greatest harm: ‘I will be devout, I will be holy, I will keep the commandments.’” [2]

I know God understands my motives and (even) needs to justify myself, and cause myself to be viewed as the good guy. However, aren’t you—aren’t I fearful of separation from God, even when God might be angry with us? Isn’t using self-righteousness as a defensive weapon hurtful to our own insides? In particular, our spiritual and relational insides?

Plus, I know I am basically sinful. (Remember Romans 3:23—I just gave a mini-series from Romans for my sermons on the “Solas” of the Reformation for the month of October.) I thank God that I am accepted in His sight, and the Scripture is a great resource to assist me to follow God. So, we “pray for a steadfast heart that keeps itself in God’s commandments, and we know that this can only be achieved by grace.” [3]

Yes, following God’s statutes seems, at first glance, all about Law. Unflinching and rigid, Law comes down on the necks of those who attempt to follow it. However, we follow God’s ways because we want to be delivered from this burden and bankruptcy of the Law. Then, by a marvelous gift of God, everything is grace. God’s grace makes it all possible. It’s grace that frees us from the Law, “grace puts us on the way [of God], and it is grace for which we pray from step to step.” [4] Hallelujah, what a Savior.



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, 112.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 113.

[4] Ibid, 114.

Be Present in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 27, 2017


Be Present in Prayer

As I read the short passage this evening from the book How to Sit, I was struck by how much common sense was to be found in this brief reading. “When we have the capacity to be peaceful and joyful as we sit, we can sit anywhere.” [1] Yes, that is correct. The quote says “we can sit anywhere.” That is anywhere, in peace and joy.

When I am anxious or fearful, this is an option for me. When I am angry or jealous or depressed, again—this is an option for me. Being in the present moment, striving after peace and joy.

From what I understand, peace and joy flow into the sitting, and being present. Prayer and meditation are part and parcel of sitting, and being present. This practice is simple, and straight forward. NOT easy, but it is simple. “We are not pulled away by the past, the future, or by anger or jealousy in the present. When we sit like that, we sit as a free person.” [2]

Then, as I sit in prayer and meditation, I am free. I am not bound by strong, difficult emotions. My insides are not tied up in knots, and I can approach the Holy freely. What a gift.

Gracious God, thank You for showing me this option. Thank You for giving me possibilities in this life. Forgive me for disregarding You and Your kindness to me. Help us walk close by You from this day forward. In Jesus’ precious name we all pray, 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 82.

[2] Ibid.

Listening to My Higher Power

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 23, 2015

prayer to God as I understand God

Listening to My Higher Power

I used to be a people-pleaser. I would do my best to be everything or make myself into whatever people wanted or needed. I would run, do, speak, or not speak. Almost always at half my acquaintances’ beck and call. When I was a teen and in my twenties and thirties, my poor sense of self-esteem kept me going overtime. (And then some.)

I gradually learned how to navigate my way through the awkward conversations, extra-long telephone calls, home visits and play dates. (Fearful of running afoul of the modern-day Pharisees, though.)

As my reading today from Keep It Simple tells me, trying to be a people-pleaser will get me exactly nowhere. Nowhere except hurt or angry, and feeling taken advantage of.

How on earth am I to stay centered and focused? Ah, ha! My reading gives me two good ways: by listening to my internal voice (“To Thine Own Self Be True”), and listening for my Higher Power’s voice. I do have wisdom inside of me. I have dreams and aspirations. I am worthwhile. What’s more, I also have God as I understand God. My Higher Power has my back. My Higher Power will never leave me nor forsake me.

So, I thank God that I no longer am a people-pleaser. (Well, hardly ever, that is.)

Let’s pray, using the prayer for today from the reading. “I pray that I’ll listen to that gentle, loving voice inside me. Higher Power, help me make my ‘conscious contact’ with You better.” [1]


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

[1] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 23 reading.

Prayer for Those Who are Sick

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, July 17, 2014

PRAY more things are wrought by prayer

Prayer for Those Who are Sick

People ask me to pray for them sometimes. Either when they are sick, or when their loved ones are sick. It depends on how sick, and for how long, and what their emotional state is. Sudden onset? Chronic illness? Serious accident? Baby or small child? End of life concern? It depends.

But what does not change is the seriousness of this prayer request.

I am not going to discuss deep theological thoughts in this particular post. But what I am going to do is remark upon—ponder—the large number of people I have heard of with cancer, in the past nine or ten months. Quite a number. I haven’t been asked to pray for all of these, but I have prayed for most of them. And although most were middle-aged or older, a few were young.

I believe in prayer. I really do. I have faith that God does indeed listen to every prayer that is prayed. When patients (or their loved ones) with cancer cry out to God from a deep, dark abyss of fear and unknowing, that is an emotional cry, indeed. I know. My father died of testicular cancer, a number of years ago.

God can and does come alongside of people. Again, I know, experientially.

A number of people I know are sick. I can try to alleviate their loneliness, spend some time with them, and pray with and for them. I can journey with them—and their loved ones—for a little way down this anxious, fearful, even angry or despairing, road. And, it’s a road I’ve traveled myself, with close relatives and other loved ones. I do not know how prayer works. I simply know it does work. I do not know how God heals, but I understand there are many healings available—not only physical, but spiritual, mental, emotional, and psychological. God is in the midst of all. All of these facets of us complex human beings.

Even when I feel downhearted and depressed, or despairing and dreading the next medical communication—I recognize the fellowship of compassionate friends and other loved ones, joining in prayer with me. I hope I can help others to understand this love and concern in prayer. And, it’s also encouragement. Encouragement even amidst tears and sorrow. Grief. Anxiety. Pain. And yet, hope. Faith. Love. God’s presence.

Let’s pray. Dear, loving, gracious God, we come before You. We do not know how to pray as we ought. Help us to come before you in trust and in truth. Touch all of our desires as well as our diseases, both inside and out. Heal each one where You know we need to be healed. Thank You for Your presence. In Your grace and mercy we pray, amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net