Tag Archives: God understands

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.



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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.

In the Beginning? Center on The Word.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WORD John 1-1

In the Beginning? Center on The Word.

The last day of September. My last day of Centering Prayer. My word of the day, my Name of God for today is Word. (As in, “The Word,” from the Gospel of John, chapter 1.)

I have always been strongly, deeply moved by this Name of God. (Or, preincarnate Name of the Son.) As I focused on The Word, John 1:1 kept running through my head.” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself focusing on the Logos, on the Greek word for The Word. Instead, I found myself centering on “the beginning” and then on before the beginning. What came before the beginning? What was here? (Or, there? Or, anywhere?)

I know, God was present before anything was created. And, I tend to gravitate towards images and imagery as well as sound. I thought of The Word being a spoken Word. And then, since I was contemplating “the beginning,” lo and behold! C.S. Lewis’s book The Magician’s Nephew popped into my head again, and the spoken Word morphed into Aslan singing the world containing Narnia into being!

How marvelous, actually seeing (in my mind’s eye, that is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth at work, creating the wonders and the glory of the worlds, and the solar systems, and the galaxies. Awe-inspiring does not even touch this.

And, that was what I centered on, today.

However, I am torn about finishing my month of Centering Prayer. Yes, relieved, since praying in this meditative way every day for a month was a huge stretch for me! (I am afraid I am not very good at this meditative style of prayer.) But, also partly unfulfilled. Or something. I am afraid I did not center or focus very well this month, at all. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being awful and 10 being stellar, I have the definite sense that I didn’t get much above a 3 on most days in September.

God, I’m sorry. I know You understand, but I’m still sorry. At least I was faithful, and I earnestly tried. I really did. And, thank You, Lord, for loving me anyhow, and listening to me as I pray. No matter what method I use or how I come before You.


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