Tag Archives: freedom

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 27, 2018

prayer candles

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Father Nouwen makes it sound easy. Well, if not easy, then straight-forward.

I know very well that I sometimes am all of these unpleasant things he talks about. I hate, I don’t forgive, I clutch worldly things or attitudes to my chest and turn away from the obvious invitations and overtures God in making to me. Yes, God. Guilty as charged. Yet, Henri Nouwen does make the process of prayer sound easy. (Or, straight-forward, whichever is more applicable to me at the time.)

Yet—before I get down to the serious business of praying, Nouwen tells me there is a caveat. “You must have patience, of course, before your hands are completely open and their muscles relaxed.” [1]

Patience? Seriously? Is this trait an absolute necessity? Because if it is, I do not think I will get very far in my walk with God. Or, my continuing conversation with God, either.

In the very next paragraph, however, Fr. Nouwen rephrases that absolute, and turns it into a conditional suggestion. He even acknowledges our human frailty. He says, “You can never fully achieve such an attitude, for behind each fist another one is hiding, and sometimes the process seems endless. Much has happened in your life to make all these fists….At any hour of the day or night you might clench again for fear.” [2]

Ah. Now you have it. Fr. Nouwen lays out the clear dilemma of prayer and the human experience. I have such fear and trepidation in my heart. I am filled with such anger, or shame, or even revulsion. Or, God forbid, I find myself chock-full of self-righteous judgement. Any or all of these can hinder or even totally stop my conversation with God.

What do I do about all of these horrible emotions and character traits that are so deeply rooted inside of me? Nouwen says, “What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so the other can blow your sins away…Then you feel a bit of new freedom, and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you.” [3]

Dear Lord, is it possible? Can I actually be welcomed into Your presence even though I am chock-full of all of these yucky emotions and character traits? Thank God, indeed.

 

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

[3] Ibid, 10.

@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

PEACE: Justice, Freedom, and Getting Along

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 28, 2016

peace-no-war-info-text-graphics

PEACE: Justice, Freedom, and Getting Along

I continue a series of posts from Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. (Again, a big thank you to Mr. Rich Groeling, Gemini’s principal!)

I feature two personal definitions of PEACE per day. This was a wonderful chance to talk with young people and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Gianni’s definition: “Peace is justice and freedom between everyone. No matter what color or race we are, we still have equality.”

Next, Franklin’s definition: “Peace is having no war, and people getting along.”

I was impressed by both definitions. Excellent. Young people have such innovative ideas.

Gianni highlighted equality, no matter what color or race anyone is. Gianni, you are mirroring what you see each and every day in your classes, walking the halls at Gemini School. This school has such rich diversity! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Chicago suburb of Niles is the most diverse—culturally, ethnically, and in every other way—of any suburb in the state of Illinois. What a wonderful viewpoint to have. What an open and welcoming lens through which to view the world, too!

Franklin gave a two-part definition: no war, and getting along. If I consider the first part, “having no war,” that only means no active fighting (or killing). Yes, that is so important! If only that was a more widespread sentiment, Franklin …

However, this young man went one step further with his personal definition: “people getting along.” This part of Franklin’s definition goes hand in hand with Gianni’s view. No matter what the differences are between individuals (or between groups of people), Franklin wants to promote peace.

Now, we need to think of some simple yet creative ways to accomplish these things! God willing, perhaps one of these young people will lead us all towards peace. Cessation of hostilities. Justice, and freedom. What a way to #PursuePEACE.

@chaplaineliza

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

Pray for Freedom from Anxiety

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 8, 2016

worry do not be anxious - Jesus

Pray for Freedom from Anxiety

Freedom from restlessness and anxiety? Oh, yes! That sounds absolutely marvelous. Even though I know—intellectually—that worry, restlessness and anxiety are not positive or beneficial for me, still…

This prayer (233) from The Oxford Book of Prayer is unattributed. (I might assume that it could be written by the same author as the next prayer, but I am not certain. And, the book does not say.) Regardless, this touching prayer asks for “that peace and power which flow from Thee.” [1] I get the impression of a strong, flowing river. Not wild, not rushing out of control, but more than a trickle! And, faster than a meandering backwater, too.

Imagine, God’s peace and power. Not just puny little human attempts at peace. And not just flawed, human weakling efforts at power. God is helping now. God will take care of it. And me. And, you, too.

If I am upheld by God’s strength and secure in the Rock of my salvation (also known as the Rock of God’s faithfulness), is there any way I can be lost? Or, unhappy? Or, anxious? At least, the God I know would not have been distant or oblivious to God’s children who needed help.

Dear Lord, gracious God. Thank You for being there, and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 for showing grace and mercy to me—to all of us. God, I long for Your strength and power to make themselves evident in my life. Thank You for Your upholding here in this world, and even more so for Your freedom in the world to come. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

P.S. Watch this space for Pursuing PEACE. A Project that is also a listening tour. Listen. Share. Pursue PEACE. Coming for Lent!

@chaplaineliza

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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 80.

Thank God for Freedom

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 24, 2015

gift - greatest gift is recovery

Thank God for Freedom

I thank God for freedom. Freedom from unmanageability. Freedom from negativity. Freedom from stress, drama and trauma.ne

I thank God for the freedom to be truly me. Freedom to experience hope, healing and gratitude.

Many addicts and alcoholics in recovery have been given a new life. A new chance, a new opportunity to live life to the full. The Higher Power helps those in recovery gain a spiritual perspective on living. God as I understand God helps me realize that each new day is a gift from that same God.

How do I know what to do, spiritually speaking as well as in real life? How do I receive these good gifts? I know! I could try one day at a time. That works for good things as well as for those not-so-good things. As the meditation for today from Keep It Simple mentions, “each day we keep learning, we keep growing.” [1]

Here is another quote from the Prayer for the Day: “Higher Power, You set me free. Now teach me to stay free. Guide me, for keeping my freedom is a big task.” [2]

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 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 24 reading.

[2] Ibid.

Day #31 – Be Courageous! In Secret.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 25, 2015

sending love

Day #31 – Be Courageous! In Secret.

Talk about a throwback. A blast from the past.

As I read today’s suggestion, I suddenly felt myself crouching in a crawl space underneath a camp building. I must have been all of twelve years old. A day in late winter, if I remember correctly. Separately, by threes and fours, we all slipped through the heavy metal door. The space was lit by electric lanterns. Not very much light. Or room.

I remember one of the other pastors (not my pastor) giving a brief explanation for why we all were doing this. Then, we had a quiet, intense, emotional worship service, and the highlight was a celebration of communion.

That was the first I had actual knowledge and understanding that there were (and are) Christians around the world who were—and are in dangerous situations.

Now, I know there are many, many millions of our fellow believers, those who call on the name of Christ, who are persecuted, In danger not only for the sake of their freedom, but of their lives.

Please. Get involved. Please. Do something beneficial. Tell others. Or find out more. Or pray. Or give of your time and talents. I pray for those who are—or have been—persecuted or in fear. Thank you.

@chaplaineliza

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 from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #21 – Be Silly? When Smiles Happen, Naturally.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 13, 2015

SMILE reason someone smiles

Day #21 – Be Silly? When Smiles Happen, Naturally.

Silliness can be uproariously funny. Have you ever laughed with a friend? Laughed at a joke, and then, kept on laughing? Or, especially with children. Have you ever made silly faces with children? Your children, or grandchildren, or nieces and nephews? Children have such freedom to be silly. Joyously, happily free to be themselves.

But I thought of silliness in a slightly different context. Silliness helps lighten serious moments. Silliness makes difficult things bearable. A smile can be a precursor to silliness. I still remember dear, retired Pastor Carl (who died aged one hundred years old last summer) telling me about twelve years ago that I have a lovely smile, and I ought to use it often.

I worked as a chaplain in a busy urban hospital for some years. My friendly smile was (and still is) a great opportunity for me to begin conversations. I have had people say that my smile lit up a hospital room, or the hospital hallway.

But—I’m thinking specifically when my smile lightened tense situations. Or, when a humorous comment punctuated with my signature smile helped ease a difficult time. Especially when working with the medical staff in the hospital. It can get pretty hectic in the emergency department. Or, intensive care.

Sometimes, the staff lightened the atmosphere with “black” or “gallows” humor. Absolutely! It served a purpose, and helped people deal with really serious situations or traumatic events. Part of my duties were to reach out, to be there for the medical staff. If I could be a calm, less-anxious presence for the staff as well as for the patients and their loved ones, then I was effectively doing my job. So, did I sometimes smile when I greeted the staff? You bet. When the nurses were kidding around, even a bit silly at the nurses’ station, did I join in from time to time? You bet.

That’s one of the things I miss most of all. Yes, the supportive relationships, yes, the one-on-one interaction. But the smiles, and the silliness. That was so important. And life-giving. And just plain silly. Sometimes, silliness hits the spot.

God, I know You have a sense of humor. And, You have given that same humor—silliness—to people, to use. Even when things are dark and desperate, we can still use our sense of humor to lighten situations and ease difficulties. And, we can laugh. Smile. Just be silly.

@chaplaineliza

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 from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Adventures in Forgiveness

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 25, 2014

norway sunrise

Adventures in Forgiveness

I’ve been reflecting on forgiveness this week. Off and on, I mean. So much so that I prayed and meditated on it. I used a verse that I usually do not use for in-depth meditation, simply because it’s so worn out and well-used (to my mind) that I usually can’t think of anything else to say about it. I’m talking about the verse on forgiveness from the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” However, I did happen to think of a few new things this week.

God, I know that this verse tells me that I really need to forgive others. After all, what I am saying (and hopefully, agreeing with You when I pray) is that I want You, God, to forgive me. This is in the same way/to the same proportion as I forgive other people. Now, if I really think about this proposition in depth, I must admit. It’s quite scary. I am not the most unforgiving person, true. But if I hold on to any unforgiveness in my heart, it would be hypocritical to expect God to continue to forgive me freely. If I really and truly expect the Lord’s Prayer to mean anything at all, that is.

I think most people would agree that this is a very scary proposition. I’ve known several individuals who were particularly unforgiving. From what I knew of them, they considered themselves to be “good Christians.” However, having such a mean, pinched attitude where they would not deign to even consider forgiving certain others? Regardless of what “unforgivable sins” had been committed, whether or not “egregious slights” or sins of omission had been perpetrated, I would be scared to death to consider the consequences.

This is serious stuff, here! I’m not one to make bargains with God, but I consider this forgiving (or NOT forgiving) to be of paramount importance.

Let’s pray. God, I’m getting down on my knees. I pray that I truly forgive those who have sinned against me, in any way. I know that You have forgiven me—and I fall on my face in absolute wonder and amazement at such love, mercy and grace. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our transgressions from us. Thank You! Dear God, remove any hypocritical notion of self-sufficiency from our hearts, and banish any spirit of unforgiveness from us. Thank You for the freedom and the ability to stand before You and honestly, earnestly say, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.

@chaplaineliza