Tag Archives: God

Prayer, Acceptance, Openness.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 7, 2018

 

acceptance word cloud

Prayer, Acceptance, Openness.

What profound insights Father Nouwen has. Seriously, at times his words penetrate deep inside me. Like, tonight.

He speaks of prayer being acceptance, if one is experiencing deep silence. This is rare for me, since I am so wordy. Lectio divina is one of my favorite prayer methods, as is Ignatian prayer. Both depend strongly on the use of words, Bible reading and sometimes written responses. However—I have experienced deep, silent prayer. Meditation is a challenge for me, but I have done it. It’s like writing with my left hand. (Yes, I am right handed.) I can do it, but writing with my non-dominant hand is a challenge, even difficult at times.

Yet, I immediately understood what Father Nouwen was talking about. If one experiences deep silence, prayer can very well mean acceptance. But, that is not all. “Prayer creates that openness where God can give himself to us. Indeed, God wants to give himself;” [1] Now, this is more difficult for me to believe. God wants to give Himself to us? To me?

But, wait. Father Nouwen clarifies, and explains further. “This openness, however, does not simply come of itself. It requires our confession that we are limited, dependent, weak, and even sinful.” [2]

Oh, yes, I am more than ready to admit that I am not God. (I am very familiar with the Recovery Program, which talks about that very thing. I am—one is—most certainly not God, no matter how much one might want to think that is the case. Or, feel rather omnipotent.) Yes, this does make one feel vulnerable. However, if God is right by my side, I will not feel as lost and alone. Or as vulnerable and small.

Thank You for Father Nouwen’s wonderful words, dear God. Just what I needed tonight.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 25.

[2] Ibid, 26.

@chaplaineliza

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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

Prayer—No Easy Matter

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 20, 2018

honest definition

Prayer—No Easy Matter

When I read this first reflection on prayer by Henri Nouwen, his words penetrated me deeply. (Again, I might add. I have a feeling this will happen to me again and again as I read through this short book.) I am unashamedly a fangirl of Fr. Nouwen. His profound writing and superb choice of words consistently hits home. Now, if I could just get his words to remain in my brain and imprinted on my heart…

He speaks of a deep relationship, a no-holds-barred relationship between me and the other. (Or, should I say the Other? I have always honored God with capitalization, as much as possible.) In any case, Fr. Nouwen talks of a deep resistance, as well. Giving the illustration of a woman admitted to a psychiatric center [1] who absolutely refuses to open her fist until it is pried open to reveal a coin…makes me think hard. How much am I trying to hide from God?

As Fr. Nouwen says, “When we are invited to pray we are asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin. But who wants to do that?” [2] This can be such a painful process. Even though some may cry out of that deep place of pain and anguish, the whole process can be painful. Just deciding to begin to pray can be filled with anguish. “You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with small clammy coins which you don’t want to surrender.” [3]

Dear Lord, how difficult it is to be totally honest. Even though You know everything already, just like a wise, benevolent earthly parent, I feel awkward, and shy, and ashamed, and resentful. Disappointed, jealous, sad, and angry, too. Why is it that deep emotions get in the way of my relationship with You so readily? Clutching these yucky emotions to my chest as if they were treasures is not in my best interests. Lead me to understand this deep truth that Fr. Nouwen brings to my attention.

Let us pray. Gracious God, loving Heavenly Parent, You are patient and merciful. You are also all-knowing, so I cannot hide from You—as much as I want to. As the psalmist reminds me, even if I flee to the depths of the sea or the highest mountain, You are still there. You are still with me, no matter what happens. Help me to be honest with You. You love me. Help me emblazon those words on my heart. In Jesus’s precious name we pray, amen.

@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

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 3.

[2] Ibid, 4.

[3] Ibid.

God is Judge, in Psalm 50

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 4, 2017

JUDGE as God, Jesus

God as Judge, in Psalm 50

Have any of my readers been in a courtroom lately? I mean, close enough to watch the judge deliberate and make rulings?

Such a vivid example of tonight’s reading, from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s compilation of short writings and letters called Meditating on the Word. God has a whole lot of names, and serves as a whole lot of awesome majesty and power.

I must admit, seeing God act as stern Judge certainly would give me pause. I do not think in those terms, usually. I know I usually see God Almighty as Shepherd or Lamb, as Teacher, or as Sower of God’s seed. I realize those images are meant to be honest and serious.

However, as I have been following these particular words written in Psalm 50, I am struck by these verses. Pierced to the heart is more like it.

Bonhoeffer had several comments on God’s behalf, in reflection on Psalm 50: “The loyal followers have been sanctified through the sacrifice of the cross. Against the background of Advent, the cross comes into view. Here, in this sacrifice of God’s judgment and His loving kindness are one.” [1]

Yes, some of the Names of God are quite serious, and their description contains parts of God’s character.

Dear God, mighty Judge of humanity (and all the rest of the universe), have mercy on us. Thank You for the cross, as it stands on that hill outside Jerusalem so long ago—and still stands in the heart of God. Thank You for Jesus, the Lamb of God. And, thank You for Your gracious and merciful loving-kindness.

Dear 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 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), 65.

Pouring Out My Soul to God, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 23, 2017

Psa 42-3 tears, my food

Pouring Out My Soul to God, and Psalm 42

What do you do when you are all alone? Alone, and heartsick, lonely and soulsick. As Bonhoeffer said when thinking about this psalm, he was all alone. Feeling alone can turn a person inside out with sadness. So, Bonhoeffer poured out his soul to the Lord. And, the Lord came to his aid.

Since he was feeling to lonely and alone, he said “the greater will be my longing for the fellowship of other Christians, for common worship, common prayer and song, praise, thanksgiving and celebration.” [1]

While I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s next suggestion, I don’t go along with it…totally. He stresses that his readers ought not to allow heaviness and disquiet to overwhelm the soul. But, sometimes depression overwhelms a person. People sometimes juggle things like anxiety, loneliness, worry and concern.

I know Jesus tells us some things about how to deal with many negative emotional feelings and psychological tendencies. However—sometimes, life gets too heavy, too overwhelming. We might need a little help from our community. We can use some common understanding and caring. God, not only from our families, our friends, and our communities of faith, but from You. I know I depend on You, dear Lord.

Still, from time to time, I do feel all alone. God, please ground me on You and Your help, Your word, and Your promises. Thank You for listening, dear God.

@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

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 57.

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 21, 2017

Psa 42 deer, soul

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

I haven’t ever been in a desert. I haven’t ever been really, truly thirsty. However, I know much of the land where the Bible was written is either desert or semi-arid. Lots of people in the Bible were seriously thirsty, some more often than not.

Yet, Psalm 42 talks about thirst on at least two levels. Yes, actual, physical thirst. The kind that is a physical need. However, the psalm also speaks of thirsting after God. “As the deer longs for the water brooks…” The psalmist’s soul is thirsting after God, after some knowledge of the Almighty. Yes, even thirsting after the close relationship with God.

Do I do that? Can I say that I have a close relationship with You, O God?

With Dietrich Bonhoeffer I earnestly pray, “Lord God, awaken in my soul a great longing for You. You know me and I know You. Help me to seek You and to find You. Amen.” [1]

Along with the sons of Korah, I can readily say that my soul is athirst for the Lord. Sometimes.

Lord, why am I so wishy-washy? I only too well know, as Bonhoeffer says, “the thirst of our passion for life and good fortune.” [2] From time to time, I even cringe when I think of how I have left You behind, thoughtlessly tossed You aside to go after my own affairs and interests.

Dear Lord, forgive me. Help me to amend my ways. Help all of us to walk in Your ways. 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 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), 55.

[2] Ibid.

More on the Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 30, 2017

Bible, OT scrolls

More on the Word of God and Meditation

This particular letter was so fascinating, and had so much in it, that I just had to take another day to reflect upon it. I’m referring to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. (The two men had many interests in common, including theology.)

I was struck by what Bonhoeffer said about the Bible. “This is how I read the Bible now. I ask of each passage: What is God saying to us here? And I ask God that he would help us hear what he wants to say.” [1] Bonhoeffer does not read the Bible as someone preparing for a sermon, or doing bible study, with an eye to commentaries and delving deeper behind the words and meanings of the text. No. This is not the point for Bonhoeffer.

Instead, he particularly refers to what he saw as God’s central purpose for the Word: “…God’s Word begins by showing us the cross. And it is to the cross, to death and judgment before God, that our ways and thoughts (even the ‘eternal’ ones) all lead.” [2]

I think Bonhoeffer is saying that the cross is the apex of all things, the crux of God’s purpose and meaning. I almost hesitate to say this, but I understand it to be God’s be-all and end-all. The main point, the one-and-only. (Those phrases sound so trite, compared to God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.)

Sure, there are lots of things that are still hidden from common understanding, or puzzling, or downright confusing. However, Bonhoeffer freely admits that he “does not yet understand this or that passage in Scripture, but is certain that even they will be revealed one day as God’s own Word.” [3]

If someone as spiritually and theologically brilliant as Dietrich Bonhoeffer freely admits that, I suppose I ought to feel no shame and embarrassment at admitting the same thing. Yet, just as Pastor Bonhoeffer did, I need to keep reading, keep meditating, and keep studying. If I do this, God willing, I will add to my knowledge, understanding and wisdom about the Word of God. I hope my readers do, as well. Dear 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 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), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

[3] Ibid.

Frederick Buechner and Celebration

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 14, 2017

laugh more

Frederick Buechner and Celebration

I have heard of Frederick Buechner, but never read anything by him. It was interesting to read the short introduction about him. Presbyterian minister, accomplished writer of both fiction and non-fiction, this particular excerpt features Peculiar Treasures, appreciating the humor of the Bible. This book is a particularly apt way of celebrating with God.

Laughter, outright. Laughter in a sly way, in a shy way. Out and out hoots and hollers of laughter. Ironic laughter, and hesitant laughter instead of tears of sadness and frustration. All of these kinds of laughter are found in the Bible, and Buechner wrote about them.

One example is the laughter of Sarah. (And, Abraham.) Sarah was over 90 years old when the heavenly visitors come to visit their tent as their guests. No one is more surprised than Sarah and Abraham when the guests tell them that the old lady Sarah will have a baby before a year is up.

“Abraham laughed ‘till he fell on his face.’ (Gen 17:17), and Sarah stood cackling behind the tent door so the angel wouldn’t think she was being rude as the tears streamed down her face. When the baby finally came, they even called him Laughter.” [1]

A number of other biblical references are mentioned. Such a gathering of references to laughter, in so many forms, causes me to smile. The Bible is truly a gathering place for a multitude of emotions. This article and excerpt shows us how we ought to enjoy the breadth of these happy times—or, at least, positive situations.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the gift of laughter.

@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

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 315.