Tag Archives: fellowship

How to Heal. In Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 29, 2015

healing prayers

How to Heal. In Prayer.

More about healing? God wants to heal broken relationships, bruised feelings, imperfect people. And, God can heal actual, physical illness and disease, too.

Sometimes, as C.S. Lewis notes in his book A Grief Observed, a person deals with much more than physical illness. It is somehow magnified by feelings of desperate loneliness, or quiet despair, or sharp pangs of regret. And what about resentment, screwed up so tight, or anger, simmering like a kettle over a high flame on the stovetop.

Yes, God is intimately familiar with all of these afflictions, too.

I was especially intrigued by something Cardinal Joseph Bernardin wrote, shortly before he died. Cardinal Bernardin was the head of all Catholics in the Chicago area for some years. He said, especially in respect to his ministry to cancer sufferers, “the worst suffering is isolation, feeling cut off.” [1] The most profound thing we can do, oftentimes, is just show up.

Rev. Howell gives another example, too. He states, “a friend of mine spent a week in Lourdes, the shrine in France where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. . . . When my friend returned, I asked her, ‘Did you see any miracles?’ She said, ‘Oh yes, every day.’ … ‘Every day at Lourdes, no matter who you are, or where you are from, or what’s wrong with you, you are welcomed, and loved.’” [2]

Yes, God can be seen, healing from something physical. True. And yes, it can be in some quiet way where the chaplain comes alongside without words—with the ministry of presence, or sitting beside a family in fresh grief and anguish and praying. Or, speaking softly with a senior, encouraging their heart at the sad prospect of a life with limited mobility. I repeat what Rev. Howell said through his friend, “No matter who you are, or where you are from, or what’s wrong with you, you are welcomed, and loved.”

Isn’t that what all this is about? Yes, it would be so nice if the crowds were suddenly healed from all physical infirmity, or healings continued in some stadium-sized venue. But that must not be what God wants. God’s priorities are not the same as our priorities. Not always, anyway.

Yes, Jesus healed, physically. Sometimes in a big way, usually in a public way, occasionally in a quiet way. Not only physical healing, but emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing. Jesus cured relationships, and restored individuals to fellowship with God and with each other. Do you want that for yourself today? Jesus will heal you in the most intimate way possible, so you can enjoy being forever-friends with Him.

And, how awesome is that?

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.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 89.

[2] Ibid, 90.

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 16, 2015

PRAY teach us to pray

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

“Teach us to pray.” That’s what the disciples wanted their Rabbi Jesus to do in Luke 11, wasn’t it?

The prayer guide we are considering this month has this request of God as its centerpiece, or foundation. Rev. Howell has based each basic or foundational “lesson” on some general aspect of prayer. He sets up each chapter as a brief lesson or tutorial on prayer. Howell mentions Richard Foster in today’s chapter, and I wanted to find out more about Foster’s viewpoints on prayer.

Accordingly, I checked out his book Celebration of Discipline, in the chapter dealing with prayer. Sure enough, Foster mentions Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. “They had prayed all of their lives, and yet something about the quality and quantity of Jesus’ praying caused them to see how little they knew about prayer. . . . It was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process. I was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for I knew I was learning.” [1]

Yes—the ultimate point, the shining beacon ahead of us is God. Drawing us forward and upward. Yet, I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to be a perfect practitioner of prayer. As time passes, each of us has the opportunity to grow closer to God in prayer. As Foster explains it, prayer can be understood not only as communication, but as a process.

“In the beginning we are indeed the subject and the center of our prayers. But in God’s time and in God’s way a Copernican revolution takes place in our heart. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, there is a shift in our center of gravity. We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realization that we are part of his life.” [2]

This revolution—sometimes almost imperceptible—occurs over time. The starting point is all about me, but change does happen.

As several of my friends and I were considering recently, our self-absorption and self-centered orientation gradually changes. It morphs into something oriented towards God, and towards others. Prayer becomes more and more communication and fellowship with this Higher Power, and less and less asking for favors, requests, and wanting for my desires to be filled, my menu items taken care of.

What do I think is the most important part of this? The point that I cannot achieve communion in prayer alone. God is always there, to help and to guide. To pick me up when I fall down or trip up. (And believe me, I do trip up.)

Thanks, God. I couldn’t do it without You.

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.

[1] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998). 36.

[2] Richard Foster, Prayer (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992). 15.

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.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Praying When Scared Silly

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, July 10, 2014

don't worry about tomorrow--trust

Praying When Scared Silly

I had an oral surgery procedure earlier this week. Yes, most of my friends and even my husband let me know that this extraction was nothing to worry about. Piece of cake! Even though there was some infection around the base of the tooth, it wasn’t complicated. Gee, when I went to see my oral surgeon last week, even he told me it was basic and routine.

So, why was I scared to death?

I know, I know. My husband tried to allay my fears. (He is fearful of dental procedures, himself.) He told me how far advanced dentistry has come, since he and I were small. He told me about the great staff in the oral surgeon’s office, and how our surgeon was a master at his craft.

But I was still shaking. Frightened, on a deep, fundamental level.

As I said in my other blog (A Year of Being Kind), I did not take care of my teeth when I was small. I also ate a lot of sweets. So, by the time I hit kindergarten, I had a number of small cavities in my teeth. I would not sit still for the dentist my parents used. So, my parents sent me to a special dentist. He was special, all right! He was downright cruel. He held my jaw in a deathgrip, and had the most piercing eyes of anyone I had ever seen in real life. Through the sheer force of his will, plus a healthy dose of sadism, he was able to fill the cavities.

He also scarred me for life. However, for that reason, I understood where I could go for help. I fled to the fellowship of other believers in prayer. I spoke up about my dental anxiety, and asked for prayer. Nay, even begged for prayer.

Yes, my prayers for my anxiety and fear did have more than a touch of the foxhole prayer in them. True enough. And I think God was right there with me. Helping me. Allaying my fears, all the time I was in the dentist’s chair for that procedure. Yes, I used breathing. Mindfulness practices. Relaxation techniques. And, I was surprised. They did indeed work.

Now that I’m on the other side of that procedure, I feel much better about things. I would even have significantly less fear, if I needed to have more oral surgery. (But that is not an invitation. Please, God, NO more. At least, not for a long time!)

And, I would like to send out sincere thanks and praise for everyone who prayed for me. Let’s pray right now. Dear Lord, Gracious God, You are always with me. Even through the dark valley, You stay right by my side. Even under the bright lights of a surgical procedure, You allay my fears. Thank You for your constant presence. Thank You for being right next to me, even when it seems like You are so far away. In gratitude and praise, amen!

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net