Tag Archives: God’s gifts

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 15, 2017

Psa 119-1 those who are blameless, road

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is a psalm that talks about the Word of God. Scripture, the Law, God’s decrees, His way, commandments, statutes, promises, and more. Each verse of this acrostic psalm mentions God’s Word in some way. What a natural passage for Bonhoeffer to write about and concentrate on, since he was so devoted to praying and meditating on the Scripture.

How sad it is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer only finished commenting on 21 verses of this lengthy psalm. Yet, these beginning verses (of 176 verses, divided between the 21 Hebrew letters, 8 verses in each section) give us so much of Bonhoeffer’s feeling and heart for this wonderful psalm. Such an expression of the unknown psalmist’s love and devotion to the existing Scripture of that time.

He wrote this meditation in 1939 and 1940, when he was a teacher of seminary students once more at an out-of-the-way vicarage and again in Pomerania.

Speaking of verse 1, Bonhoeffer concentrates on beginning the life with God. “God has once and for all converted me to himself; it is not that I have once for all converted myself to God. God has made the beginning; that is the happy certainty of faith.” [1] Yes, indeed, all of us are addressed as those who are walking on the way with God. We are all on the journey.

Happy are they—these words speak of the happiness and blessedness of life in the law of the Lord. It is God’s will that it should go well for those who walk in his commandments.” [2] Ah, Bonhoeffer admits there are certain Christians who wish to show that they are more spiritual than God…that they are super-spiritual and holier-than-Thou. Renunciation, suffering, the Cross, all of these are part and parcel of their lives. And, it is true that some people’s lives in this world are not all that easy. Yet, these super-spiritual Christians “lose the full joy of their Christian calling and deny God the thanks they should give for his great friendliness toward us.” [3]

Yes, God’s rich gifts to each of us encompass so much more than anyone can ask or imagine. Thanks be to God, who gives to all abundantly.



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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, 95.

[2] Ibid, 100.

[3] Ibid.

Contemplation and Thomas Merton

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 2, 2017


Contemplation and Thomas Merton

This book Spiritual Classics has a sampling of many different types of Christians, and is all about a number of spiritual disciplines. Already, in the first section about meditation, I see how fascinating it is to look at each of these persons, so passionate about prayer.

As Thomas Merton talks of contemplation, I pondered what he said about God’s gifts. He did not think that people who were not particularly willing to immerse themselves in God’s grace and sanctity would receive a large amount of God’s gifts. Interesting concept. Merton posited that “a deep and intimate knowledge of God by a union of love [is] a union in which we learn things about Him that those who have not received such a gift will never discover until they enter heaven.” [1]

I suspect Merton has something there. I do not believe that all people in church on a Sunday morning will be able to become involved in contemplation. Sadly, some “willfully remain at a distance from God, who confine their interior life to a few routine exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty.” [2]

Wow. Double wow. Merton has hit the nail on the head, as far as certain pew dwellers are concerned.

Dear Lord, I hope that he was not describing me. Sure, I pray, and meditate, and contemplate—on occasion. I fall short. God, forgive me, I do fall short. I don’t regularly pray with the fervor and earnestness of some. Lord, I am sorry.

But, at least I try. Lord knows, I try. Contemplation is truly a gift from God. According to Merton, those with a similar gift (prayer, meditation, and contemplation) find communication with their heavenly Parent easier than others.

Dear Lord, thank You for listening to Fr. Merton. Gracious 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.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 18.

[2] Ibid, 19.

Day #30 – Be First—to Pray! To Communicate!

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

SERVE find yourself in service to others

Day #30 – Be First—to Pray! To Communicate!

Daunting? Scary? As I read today’s suggestion, I did feel those things. I also felt wistful and a bit envious. I have never done anything like Scott, the writer of our post today. (Going to Africa as a volunteer photo journalist? Wow!)

I’ve done other things. I’ve raised four children, served as a lay leader in several churches in a variety of capacities, gone to seminary at forty years old, and switched careers from a housewife to a chaplain, and now local church pastor.

I’ve been sort of land-locked, remaining here in Chicago. Not that I’m complaining! Chicago is an exciting, multi-cultural city, to say the least. But I’ve never picked up and gone much of anywhere else, except for a few short family visits. New York City, Seattle, Portland, Nashville, Boston, Washington D.C. That’s about it. (At least my relatives live in interesting places!)

However, I’m thinking of the time I was involved with a mission committee for almost thirteen years at a church I attended, a few years back. The large, mission-oriented First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, with several dozen missionaries and mission agencies.

When my two younger children were very small, I did what I could with the gifts I had. I have some skill at communication and writing, and I enjoy keeping in touch with people. This was towards the beginning of the Internet age. I took on the task of keeping in touch with the many mission agencies and missionaries the church supported. “Volunteer Inreach Communication Coordinator,” my position was called. I was faithful for some years, and tried my best to keep the congregation up to date on the work and activities of the various missions and missionaries.

Now, at the small church where I minister, one of the primary outreaches is the Maine Township Food Pantry. I am a great supporter of this food pantry! I pray for the workers and for a continuing food supply, and I encourage the congregation to pray, too. Plus, we have a collection for the Pantry on the first Sunday of the month (when our church celebrates Communion).

I know what it’s like to have very little money. It’s been a number of years, but when my older two children were very small, that was the situation in my family. So, I am generous! I bring non-perishables to the collection table at church,regularly, and am so grateful and pleased when my congregation is generous, as well.

Consider being generous with your time and talents. Find something you get excited about, and get busy. Please. So many people with be grateful and excited if you do. And don’t forget God! I remember the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, specifically in Matthew 25, for “the least of these.” I take these words quite seriously as my marching orders.

Be generous with your time, talents and treasure. Please. You’ll be grateful, too!


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 .

Pray for the One I Like Least . . .

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 6, 2015

immeasurable prayer power

Pray for the One I Like Least . . .

Today’s prayer suggestion caused some surprise, even anxiety. Just as yesterday, I stared at the open page for some seconds.

And, yes. I immediately thought of one person I don’t like very much. I hesitate to say I like this person least, because I can’t quantify my “liking” so exactly. However—I know that God wants me to write about this person. So, okay, God. I will. I’ll be obedient to Your leading.

The prayer guide suggests that I try to see something of God’s goodness, love, life, truth, and beauty in this person. This person is a child of God. Much beloved of God. God’s everlasting arms are reaching out to hold this one just as much as God’s arms are reaching out to hold the people I pray for each Sunday in the pastoral prayer at my church.

I don’t want to cause any discomfort or commotion, so I will be careful not to identify this one. But I know that God has gifted this person with skills and spiritual charisms, just as God has given them to every believer. God has called to this one and given specific skills and direction.

I do not wish any ill on this child of God. Quite the contrary! However—I still have periodic resentment in my heart toward this person. So, what to do about the resentment?

My go-to book for many of these problems happens to be the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. On page 552, in one of the stories in the second part of the book, there is a pertinent paragraph. The person writing the story is flipping through a magazine and sees the word resentment in an article written by a clergyman. Here is the paragraph:

“He said, in effect: ‘If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them. You will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.’ It worked for me then, and it has worked for me many times since, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work it.”

My gracious. God, really? Is it that simple? Of course, if I don’t really mean the prayer, this remedy through prayer won’t be very effective. I suppose this is what the author meant when writing “it will work for me every time I am willing to work it.”

Dear Lord, help me to ditch the resentment I feel in my heart toward this dear one of Yours. Yes, Lord, help me to pray every day for two weeks for this person. I know what this paragraph from the Big Book says—I’ll eventually feel “compassionate understanding and love.” I’m not even pushing for love! Compassionate understanding would be very helpful. And, a relief. I’ll shoot for that, if You please, God. Thank You for Your leading, Lord. In Jesus’ name we all pray.

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.