Tag Archives: forgive me

Day #13 – I Missed the Nudge. Forgive Me, God.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 4, 2015

winter blizzard

Day #13 – I Missed the Nudge. Forgive Me, God.

When I read today’s suggestion for a generous act, I could relate. Boy, could I relate! The Nudge. I hadn’t given it such a charming name, but I knew what the author of today’s post was talking about.

Let’s step back. What on earth is the Nudge? According to today’s article from #40acts, “The Nudge is that inner impression you get . . . a sense that says, I need to move from awareness to action. I need to engage. . . . The Nudge is when you see a need and you make something happen. “

“If you follow it, The Nudge will take you places you never thought you’d go.”

 Yes, I have followed that Nudge, periodically. I have had people come up to me out of the blue and I have provided something for them. Or they have given me something I badly needed, or made a comment that I gratefully received. But in this case, I did not follow that Nudge.

It was about three weeks ago, when the whole upper Midwest area was in the middle of a deep freeze. I had stopped at the cut-rate grocery store, and was returning home. Not the best neighborhood to be driving in, either. The temperature was hovering right around 0 degrees F, with the wind chill gusting from -15 to -20 degrees. Wickedly cold! Fine, hard snow pellets blew sideways through the dark night, and I remember thinking—briefly—that I was heartily glad I had a warm car.

Several blocks later, I was arrested by the sight of a shorter man, all bundled up with a parka and layers of scarves, waiting in a bus enclosure. The enclosure at least kept him dry from the snow above, but not out of the wind whipping sideways, and back and forth. Plus, the driving snow, penetrated into the shelter of the enclosure like constant icy pins.

He carried a plastic foam-filled lunch bag. He looked forlorn, almost doggedly resigned to waiting for the bus. Which was not coming for at least ten minutes, more likely fifteen. (I knew, since I had just come down the street on which he was waiting.)

As I drove past the man, I had a very strong urge to give him a ride. It was so strong, almost as if I had been physically directed and bodily turned to pick him up. But—I did not.

Sure, I had some valid excuses. Primarily, I was a woman, he was a man. I realize I have done such things in the past, but . . . some niggling fear hid inside me, not far under the surface. Second, I was exhausted. The time was almost eleven o’clock at night, and all I wanted was my bed. Badly. Third, when I saw the man, I was already driving through the green light. Leaving him behind me.

I had an internal tussle. Sure, I could have circled right and gone back. But, even as I fought with myself internally, I continued to drive. And got further and further away. And besides, I was exhausted. (I think I mentioned that already.)

So, I did not obey the Nudge. God, please forgive me!

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Forgive Others? Why Should I Pray about That?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 22, 2015

FORGIVE as quickly as you want God to forgive

Forgive Others? Why Should I Pray about That?

I usually have no (or, very little) problem asking God to forgive me. That’s the easy part. I do that on a fairly regular basis.

Sure, I can readily admit falling short of the mark, saying nasty things to others, cutting off people in traffic on occasion, and especially thinking thoughts that are not pleasing to God. Yes. I sin in thought, word and deed, and I need to ask God to forgive me. And, I do this in prayer.

I can even ask other people to forgive me. Usually, that is. That is relatively straight-forward. However . . . the challenging part, the downright difficult part is where I say to other people, “I forgive you.” And, I need to do this on a regular basis, too. God says so.

Our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, shares his insight into forgiveness. “When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He grabbed hold of vertical forgiveness, ‘O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned,’ and nailed it to horizontal forgiveness, ‘… as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Two interrelated acts of forgiveness, forming a cross.” [1] As Howell tells us, Jesus demonstrated forgiveness. He became forgiveness.

Part of the Assurance of Pardon in the liturgy of the Presbyterian Church (USA) reads, “In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.” It is in this God-given forgiveness that you and I find life and relationship, not only with God (vertically), but with other human beings, too (horizontally).

And to do this? I need to pray. God, give me the faith to come to You, the grace to rest in You, the assurance that I am loved by You, and the strength to go to others and say I forgive them, as I am forgiven by You. Amen.

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), 73.

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, October 9, 2014

FORGIVE forgiveness stone

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

Have you ever had one of those days—no, one of those weeks when you were so terribly busy that you didn’t even have time to turn around? That’s what my week looks like, this week.

What is high on my priority list, you ask? I am preparing for an exciting event! A presentation on the basics of prayer and meditation. During the past twenty years, I’ve led prayer events, transitioned into adult bible studies, and Sunday school classes for some years. I continued with more training, which led to preaching, group facilitation, presentations and lectures, and some articles. Now, I branch out with this particular presentation, integrating prayer and meditation with basic recovery principles. The time is counting down! Zero hour is fast approaching.

I currently serve as a pastor. Well and good. A busy work life there! I am also a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). In this latest presentation, I am striving to integrate what I know and have learned about prayer and meditation over the past decades with the wisdom found in the Twelve Steps of recovery.

All this is wonderful! I am doing innovative, edifying work! Praise the Lord! So . . . where’s the problem?

“Busy—busy—terribly busy!” That line from a Veggie Tales song is stuck in my head. I admit it. I am and I have been too busy to pray. It’s not that I haven’t prayed at all for days and days. No. I did find a half hour yesterday morning. But, that’s it for the week. And last week, too. I have not been faithful to my morning routine of over a year—and a hard-won routine it is, too! Ever since last September until last week, I have been praying at least five days a week. For at least half an hour. This is coming from a person who, for decades, had such difficulty finding regular times not only for prayer, but for spiritual disciplines of any kind! (Don’t just take my word for it. Ask my spiritual director of ten years, and my long-time therapist. They’ll tell you.)

I am fessing up, coming clean about my shortcomings. Forgive me, Lord. I know, You’ve heard me again and again, for years, coming to You repeatedly. Saying “I’m sorry,” with my face to the ground. I really meant it, practically every time. And, I really mean it again.

Let’s pray. Gracious God, dear Lord Jesus, You are lover of my soul. I have no other refuge than to seek Your face. Even when I forget to come to You, or get “too busy” to come to You, I know You are my only refuge, my true hope. Thank You for the plenteous grace that will, indeed, cover all my sin. Thank You, dear Lord, that I am invited to hide in You while the storms of life and the busy-ness of the moment fill my mind and clutch at my heart. Thank You for Your gracious, healing presence, now and always. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, April 28, 2014

Luther plan to pray three hours

Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

I had a good deal to do today. A brief article, finished in less than an hour, I am proud and glad to say. I had several meetings, did some computer work, and then some more research. And finally, yoga! (Boy, did I need my gentle yoga class! The best. Especially my teacher! But I won’t fangirl overmuch now.)

I did not take my usual time in the morning to pray, though. I tossed and turned last night, and so got only about four hours of sleep—all told. With the little naps in between times, and everything. Yup. About four hours. However, I did snatch a few minutes her and a few moments there, in the midst of everything that happened today.

How I missed my time of prayer this morning!

I find myself agreeing with Martin Luther, with the principle about prayer. Such a marvelous quote! Except, I cannot spend three hours in prayer, straight, at one time. Forgive me, Martin! And especially, forgive me, God! Sure, I can do a half hour now, fairly easily. But I’m not in the major leagues yet, nor do I expect to be any time soon. However, I am grateful that I am able to spend a half hour at a time with God now, on a regular basis. And I suspect God is happy, too!

Let’s pray. Dear God, I stand in awe at people like Martin Luther. His capacity for and practice of prayer? Awesome! Dear God, help me to learn to pray more, better, and more faithfully. Encourage our hearts and help us as we are all on this road to a closer walk with You. In the name of Your risen Son, we pray all of these things. Alleluia, amen!

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink:

Praying Through the Negative—Admonition, That Is!

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, March 31, 2014

elephant and dog

Praying Through the Negative—Admonition, That Is!

A good deal has occurred since I last posted on this blog—a mere two weeks ago. But I have a new job now! A job that suddenly popped up, and I took it. For the curious among you readers, a two weeks ago I began serving at a church in the Chicago suburbs. My position is that of interim co-pastor, and the whole set-up was providential, indeed! Amazing how quickly things can happen.

In my position as a spiritually-knowledgeable person, I try to stay informed about biblical things. So, I sometimes read things online.

For instance, I read a helpful post today on a biblical encouragement website. Last week, this website featured posts from Ephesians, where Paul is admonishing his readers to stay away from certain actions. Negative (“do not!”) commands from Paul seldom trigger positive emotions inside me! True, his “do not!” commands may admonish me—and be sure that I need regular admonishment. *grin* Instead, what works well for me is positive reinforcement, especially what this website mentioned in its post today. If I know that what I say or what comes out of my mouth has the possibility of giving God joy? Well then, I am strongly encouraged to keep on saying things like that! It’s the way I am wired. It works for me.

That’s one reason I get along so well with my partner in crime, my co-worker and co-pastor, Gordon. He and I have an excellent partnership being interim co-pastors of a small church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. He is so encouraging and positive to everyone—including me. And I am naturally encouraging and caring back at him (being a chaplain/pastoral care kind of gal). He and I work well, and reflect well off of, each other.

My encouragement to each of my readers is to consider Ephesians 4:29-32. Except in a positive manner. How can each of us do these things, live in this way, pleasing to God? Instead of getting bogged down in where I’ve fallen short, I can look at the positive, and strive to do more! Live better, and be an encouragement to others! Oh, walk more closely with God, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the words of Paul that come to us in the New Testament. Forgive us for where we fall short, because we mess up every day. Thanks for loving us, anyhow. Help us to look on the positive side, give joy to others, and encourage each one we meet today. By Your help and power we pray, Amen.

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus. 

Waiting, Praying and the Labyrinth

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today, I wanted to go to the convent several miles away where they have an outdoor Labyrinth, a replica of the one laid into the floor of the cathedral at Chartres. I wanted to walk the sacred path again.

Today was a temperate day, for December, high 40’s and misty. I never made it, because of work and other urgent matters, but I wanted to.

God, does that count?

I’ve known about this Labyrinth for almost ten years. Now, I walk the Labyrinth several times each year, in different kinds of weather. Sometimes warm, balmy, cool, bracing, or even downright cold. Since it’s out of doors (in the rear, nearby the extensive convent gardens), I can see the changes of the seasons and the beauty of God’s creation. When I walk, I sometimes pray. At times, I halt at each twist and turn of the path. Sometimes I walk steadily. A very few times, I have felt like the walk is plodding—my walk has not been easy. And I pray. Even when my walk is not easy, especially when my heart is troubled.

In this time of Advent, does my want to count? I know I am waiting. I know God is with me, but even still—I am waiting for something just over the horizon. Watching. Wanting. Waiting. I suspect that this is how God desires me to be, the reason God wishes for me to approach. Nearer, deeper. As C.S. Lewis said, “Further up and further in!”

Let’s pray. God, thank You for Your invitation to approach You in prayer. I feel the need to come close to You. Forgive me when I ignore Your repeated promptings to come close. I appreciate the words of Prof. Lewis that urge me to go “further up and further in.” In this Advent time, I watch, I wait. I want more of You. Thank You for Your presence with me, each day. Every day. Amen.

We wait.

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, December 1, 2013

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. At my church, that means lighting the Advent wreath in a decorated sanctuary, with everything in the service oriented toward the coming One. We celebrate the four-week period that comes before Christmas. In other words, we wait.

I can relate. In terms of prayer, I wait a lot. I wait for God to answer prayer. I wait for God to reveal things to me. I wait for news, for healing, employment. I wait for people. I wait for a lot of things. I am more patient than I used to be, but I still wish God would hurry up!

God, I know I’m griping. But I wish I knew better what God had for me, in this world. In this life. Sure, I know some good ways to approach God in prayer, in meditation, in service. One great way is one my church just used yesterday. They helped provide and serve sloppy joes at a local food kitchen, one that serves homeless people on Saturday afternoons. What a needed way to be the hands and feet of Christ to others.

But, I am coming back to the concept of waiting. God, I almost don’t want to pray for patience, because I know what that will mean—You’ll make me wait even more. But Advent is not only a time of waiting, it’s a time of preparation, too. At least I can prepare my heart to welcome the Christ-child once again. And, I know I can claim the wonderful promises You made.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for this time of preparation and waiting. Help me to get ready. Not in terms of a material way, but internally. It is an inside job. I know I do not reflect on the Christ-child’s birth enough. Forgive me. Help me do better. Help me prepare for the coming of Christmas in real, tangible ways, like serving the homeless. Most importantly, help me prepare my heart for You. Amen.