Tag Archives: forgive

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 26, 2017

Psa 58-10 vengeance

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

More evil. And, even more evil. That’s how much vengeance-praying King David is doing in this psalm. I know it is an “imprecatory psalm.” [1] But, I did not realize how many horrible things David was praying in this psalm.

Yes, I know King David faced some awful situations in his life. However, I also thought the Lord told God’s people to forgive, and to pardon, and to confess their sins. And, especially “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

“The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Seriously? Lord, are You serious? I need to look closely at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s explanation of this. He says, “Once more we shudder as we read this psalm….My dear congregation, if we avoid this we have understood nothing. This concerns God and His righteousness only….Whoever shrinks from this joy in the vengeance of God and in the blood of the wicked does not yet know what took place on the cross of Christ.” [2]

I need to sit back and take a long breath. God, I am reminded again that Your righteousness has been fulfilled by the cross of Christ. And, it is only through His death on the cross that I can even lift my head above the ground in anything less that abject guilt and shame.

Yes, I am still horrified by such bloodthirsty talk on David’s part. However, I also need to consider those last words of our Lord Jesus on the cross. He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And then, truly, I can say with Bonhoeffer, “When we behold Him, the crucified one, we realize God’s wrath against us wicked ones. And in the same moment we experience His deliverance from this wrath.” [3]

It is then I experience what Isaiah experienced in the temple, in the sixth chapter of his book. The angel flies to me with the coal of holy fire and burns my sin away, too. Lord, here am I.

Yes, there is judgment at the cross of Christ. Yet, there is pardon, too. “There, my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary!”



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] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Imprecatory-Psalms

[2] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 82.

[3] Ibid, 83.

In Which We Have an Election (Prayer)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 8, 2016


In Which We Have an Election (Prayer)

It is seldom I have difficulty formulating a thought. This evening, however, I am having that kind of difficulty.

The last few months have been challenging, divisive, and…difficult. To say the least.

I am so grateful to my good friend Episcopal Vicar Josh Thomas, and the website he maintains, www.dailyoffice.org. I humbly offer this Election Day prayer which he wrote, in hopes that it will begin to patch up the icy rifts and hurtful holes and jagged gashes in our American society, and between individuals, friends (sometimes former-friends), and even within families.

This has been quite an election season. Please God, may we roll up our sleeves and get to the business of forgiving, healing, working, and loving.

Here is Josh’s prayer:

For U.S. Election Day 2016
By Josh Thomas

Holy God, we ask your blessing on the election of a new President and Congress of the United States. This is such a divisive year, with very different visions offered by the candidates, with a background of war in many nations and the reality of violence at home. The results of our choices will resound throughout the world. Bless the candidates and voters; make all of us responsible for our actions; give us a clear result and a humble acceptance of the outcome, that peace and justice may prevail in this and every nation; through Jesus Christ, who came to save us from discord and violence and lead us to your heavenly home. Amen.

(Dear God, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.)


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

How to Nourish My Soul? With Love.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 6, 2015

SOUL my soul finds rest in God alone Psalm 62

How to Nourish My Soul? With Love.

Growing, nourishing, stretching my soul. All good things to do.

I remember digging in my mother’s garden. Fork up the dirt, turn over the soil, rake until the rich black dirt is prepared for planting. Either plant seeds or replant the vegetable plants. So pretty! So satisfying. Such a memorable feeling.

Just like growing, stretching plants in a garden, so also with my nourished soul. Joan Borysenko mentioned that another way the soul is nourished is when giving and receiving love. Yet a third way is to pull together, in community; what a way to nourish our souls, jointly!

Growth lets me know not only that I am alive, but grief and pain help me understand myself better—or is it more fully?

As Borysenko tells me, in this chapter from Handbook for the Soul, “we can either waste away from our wounds or use them to grow our souls. . . . I have always said that no one heals alone—we heal through and for one another. In Judaism this is referred to as Tikkun Olan, the healing or restoration of the world, a kind of collective soul work.” [1]

Whether separately or together, each of us can care for our souls. I think this is an important aspect to be learned from this chapter. Especially one final way to nourish the soul: self-care, with loving kindness. Taking time, taking care of myself is so important. If I nourish my own internal being, my own soul, I will certainly become a better giver to others.

This self-care, soul-care helps me give more easily, forgive more readily, and love more genuinely. All good things. So, help me, 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 .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 46.

Practice Makes Perfect? Following Lenten Practices

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lenten word cloud

Practice Makes Perfect? Doing Lenten Practices

Lenten disciplines can be a blessing! But I find Lenten disciplines also take time and effort. And sometimes, diligence. I’m pretty good at the time-part. Yes, I’ll willingly spend time doing a set spiritual practice. I’m also fairly good at the effort-part. God knows I am willing to serve, to lend a hand, to lift someone or something up in prayer. And, I certainly pitch in to write a bible study or sermon if needed.

However—it’s that diligence-part that frightens me. Well, not exactly frighten, but diligence makes me hesitate. Take a deep breath, and consider. The thought of diligence causes me to take a step backwards. Maybe two steps. As two of my children used to say when they were toddlers and preschoolers, I’m shy of diligence. I could say that I’m a chicken, at heart. (Chicken-hearted, perhaps? No, that doesn’t sound good, either.)

It’s a good thing that there are so many helps today. Bible studies, Scripture verses-of-the-day, prayers that come straight to a smart phone or as tweets on Twitter. These helpful tools make things a good deal easier than they were even as few as twenty or thirty years ago. Even then (when I first made my baby-steps toward spiritual disciplines and practices), there were booklets or even books of Lenten devotions. Also Lenten prayer calendars, similar to my 40 Days & Ways to Serve.

(Shameless plug: if you haven’t signed up for the calendar of service, it’s not too late! You can sign up now at the right of this very blog post, and I’ll rush it straight to your email box!)

As a part of my Lenten practice, I am using one of these devotional booklets, a selection of snippets from the collected writings of Fr. Henri Nouwen. I find it helpful. Inspiring. But then, Nouwen’s books have been amongst my absolute favorites for many years.

But let’s turn back to diligence—even though I wish we wouldn’t. I get uneasy when I consider diligence too long. I went to Webster’s Dictionary to find out exactly why, and I turned to a related word: “diligent.” Not surprisingly, the meaning makes me duck down in my seat. “Perseveringly attentive. Industrious.” God, the definition of this word makes me shrink. And perhaps, even want to hide myself under the blankets. True, not all the time. But enough to make me wonder. (Light bulb moment: maybe this is something to bring up with my spiritual director next time we meet! Food for thought.) My Lenten practices are going pretty well, considering. I hope and pray yours are, as well.

Speaking of prayer, let’s pray! Dear God, thank You for practices to help each of us get closer to You. Thank You for this time of preparation before Easter. Forgive us when we fall short, or fall asleep, or fall away from You—and bring us back. Hold us close, and help each one know how special each of us is to You. In Your mercy and by Your grace, Amen.


Remember, Ashes to Ashes

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Penitence - Larry Poncho Brown

Penitence – Larry Poncho Brown

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. I’ve been doing so much already, it seems like a day-and-a-half has been packed into just a few short hours. Yes, most of what I’ve been doing today is quite necessary. But what does God want from me today? I really ought to slow down and check in with God. See what I need to do to help my spiritual self stay right with my Higher Power.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of preparation before Easter. Today is also Ash Wednesday, a day of holy penitence, confession and absolution. I take the Lenten observance of the cross of ashes on the forehead as a serious, penitential act. But I find I’m not acting like it today. Sure, I’m doing necessary stuff, busy stuff. But I need to slow down. Do some inward reflection on my habitual thoughts, words and deeds. And most importantly, I am advised to do some inward reflection on the state of my soul.

First, before I can even confess my sins of thought, word and deed, and then even ask for God’s forgiveness (much less accept it into my heart and mind), I need to slow down enough to focus on spiritual things. I need to attend to things of God, and not to be distracted by the world. Or even by needful, necessary things that take my eyes off where they need to be. God, help me focus on You, on your forgiveness, grace and mercy.

As I turn to inward reflection, meditation and prayer, I also reflect upon Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. After all, He is the reason that I am here, in prayer. His words to us—to me—to come to Him with our—my heavy burdens. It is Jesus who gives rest to the weary, the sinful, the world-worn. To those burdened with care, with worry, with anger, with unforgiveness, with resentment. God invites me to release all those negative, worrisome mental states and attitudes. God blesses me with the forgiveness of those sinful thoughts, words and deeds of commission (what I’ve done) as well as omission (those I have neglected to do).

Instead of merely writing about confession, forgiveness and pardon, all intellectual-like, let’s actually do it. Let’s pray.

Dear God, We confess to You that we have sinned. Each of us has stubbornly turned to our own way, like those sheep Isaiah talks about. Forgive me, God. Wash me clean, make me white as snow, dear God. Have mercy on me—on us, in Your loving-kindness. Thank You for the Good News of the Gospel, and for the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayers.


I Want What I Want When I Want It

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, February 15, 2014

knows you and loves you

I Want What I Want When I Want It

I sometimes have difficulty settling down to prayer. I mean, real, earnest prayer, as uninterrupted as I can make it. Sometimes my mind flits about, from one topic to another to yet another. And that’s all in about three seconds. This has been happening more lately, and I suspect it’s due to having so many things on my mind. However, I have been consistently coming to God. Pretty consistently, anyhow.

Recently, when I was praying in the morning as I customarily do, my mind and my attention began doing the same thing, flitting around. Hop, skip and jumping all over the place. But then, I started thinking about what I wanted. What I needed. I continued in this vein for some seconds, and then I drew myself up short.

Wait a moment! I drew back, mentally, and reconsidered how I was expressing myself in prayer. “I want! I want! I want!” It seemed like that was most of what was coming out of my mouth that morning. Isn’t that the request that most people have in hand, when they come to you? Goodness, I should think that might get pretty whiny, even unpleasant. And then, I turn right around and ask—no, beg is the appropriate word. I am afraid I am also guilty of praying like this, from time to time.

What about when people want things they shouldn’t have? Or, in a related way, what if people ask for things that are wildly inappropriate?

Take my daughter, for example. (It’s been several years since she graduated from college, just to let people know how long ago this was.) Years ago when she was a preschooler, she very much wanted a pony for Christmas. Her father and I lived in an apartment in Chicago at the time, finances were very tight, and a pony was absolutely, positively out of the question. But, how could I tell my young daughter that? How could I give her the very adult, reasonable, matter-of-fact reasons why she wouldn’t be receiving a pony for Christmas?

She was so earnest, so sincere in her child’s-desire for a pony! I knew I had to do something, since her strong desire was lasting for days and days. Eventually, I got up the courage to tell her that there was no way she could receive that pony. I had to be the loving but firm parent, telling her that she would not get her heart’s desire.

God, how often do You have to be the loving but firm Parent, letting me down easy? Telling me in loving but firm manner that I am not receiving a “pony” for Christmas, either. (Whatever the “pony” in my life happens to be.) Thanks for loving me, no matter what.

Let’s pray. God, Your ears are always open, Your arms always widespread. Help me align my will with Yours. Thank You for helping me find innovative ways to approach You in prayer. Thanks for being my loving, heavenly Parent. I appreciate and love You, too! Amen.


The business—or busy-ness—of life?

Business stuff. My work life has been chock full of stuff lately. As a result, that means my husband, children and apartment all get less time allotted to them. Oh, yeah. And my prayer life usually gets short shrift, too.

I miss praying. I really do. When I feel myself losing my temper, or becoming anxious, or feeling the stress of many pressures weighing me down, I sometimes wish I had taken more time to pray.

I am not particularly a morning person. (The clock on my computer says the time is 11:50 pm right now. Case in point.) However, I now am finding some benefit to getting up early in the morning—earlier than I would prefer, most times—to pray.

From time to time, I remember Martin Luther put a high priority on prayer. So high, in fact, that I cannot ever measure up. Take a look at one of his quotes: “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Luther’s kind of example makes me feel pretty insignificant, for sure. But I need to persevere. Continue to pray. And I can remember that people today are quite similar to the people of the 1500’s.

Luther had many faults, but he also had a great amount of courage. It takes a sizable amount of courage to stand up to a large religious institution and point out some glaring flaws. I can relate to Luther, as far as both of us having a great many flaws. Please, God, help me to have just a little of his tremendous courage and persistence in the face of opposition and animosity. (Except I don’t particularly want to face the tremendous kind of enemies and resistance that he did.)

Thank God that I don’t need to deal with problems the size of Martin Luther’s problems. My problems are sizable enough! When work (and all its attendant necessary stuff) gets to be cumbersome, or frantic, or even deathly dull, what choice do I have? I can pray. And God has promised to be right by my side. Thanks for God’s promise from the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 41:10. It’s stated in a verse of one of my all-time favorite hymns. “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed/For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.”

What else can I say, except—thanks, God.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thanks for the example shown to us by those who have gone before—like Martin Luther. I remember his faults, and I see mine as well. Forgive me, God. I praise You for Your forgiveness of his faults, and mine, too. Help me to follow his good example of prayer. Thanks for the intimacy You offer us, any time. Amen.