Tag Archives: God’s promises

Prayer, with Open Hands

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 1, 2018

my heart saying a prayer

Prayer, with Open Hands

If ever I have wanted to learn to pray, Father Nouwen is an excellent teacher. His insights, his words, his example—all can lead me towards a warm, vibrant prayer life.

Take, for example, his latest definition of prayer. “Above all, prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world.” [1]

This reminds me so much of Fred Rogers. He, too, was a deeply spiritual man. Also an ordained minister, he was always striving to find ways to be more loving and open to his neighbors—which were everyone he met.

This makes me think. And I mean, really think. Do I open my hands to God’s promises? Do I find hope in God for myself, much less my neighbor or my world? Perhaps, if my neighbor closely resembles me. But, what if my neighbor does not look like me? What if they look different? Or speak a different language? Or wear different clothing? What if they were born halfway across the world? What then?

I truly do not think that mattered to Father Nouwen, and I don’t think that mattered to Fred Rogers, either.

“Praying pervades every aspect of our lives. It is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting us to come closer and to celebrate the divine gift of being alive.” [2]

I want to learn to pray more deeply, and more freely. I’m reminded of the old joke from New York City—“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice.” I know I have been in the schools of prayer for many years, but I still feel like a rank amateur. My prayer life ebbs and flows, and I feel more and less discouraged, accordingly. (So, I suppose I must feel encouraged sometimes. Apparently not right now, though.)

As I come to the end of this small book, I pray that I may take these lessons to heart.

Dear Lord, thank You for sincere, genuine people of faith like Father Nouwen and Mister Rogers. May I take them as examples for me—for my thoughts, speech and actions. May I find joy in You and in Your presence. And, may I lead others into Your joy, to experience your love, mercy and rest. Amen.


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, 2005), 121.

[2] Ibid, 122.

Hope, Turn Toward God in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 24, 2018

hope - cursive

Hope, Turn Toward God in Prayer

I had the unusual experience of questioning what Father Nouwen said in his book just now. “Only if you pray with hope can you break through the barriers of death.” [1] I did not quite understand what he was saying here. I know I might be believing pie-in-the-sky sort of theology, but I suspect that what Father Nouwen seems to say here goes against what I have always believed. In other words, that if I do NOT have hope, then I am out of luck, in terms of prayer.

That statement, on the surface, goes against everything I have learned of God and of prayer. However, that is only one sentence in this small section on hope and prayer.

Several sentences further down, Nouwen said “When you pray with hope, you turn yourself toward God, trusting fully that God is faithful and makes all promises real.” [2]

Now, THAT I can understand. Praying with hope. Turning toward God. Trusting in God.

When you or I take what we know of God and pray with what hope we have in our hearts (even if it is only a mustard-seed’s-worth of hope), then you—I—we turn towards God. Isn’t that enough? Or, do I need to quantify my hope and my prayers to God?

“As long as there is still hope/There will also be prayer…

And you will be held/in God’s hands.” [3]

This is what I understand. This is what I relate to, and what my heart opens toward. When I open my heart in prayer, when I have even a tiny scrap of hope inside of me, that is enough. God will still hold me in God’s hands of love and caring. For that, I truly thank the Lord.



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, 2005), 75.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 76.

Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 12, 2017


Follow the Bell in Prayer and Meditation

As I read today’s segment from How to Sit, I noticed the elegance Thich Nhat Hanh used to describe the process of following the bell.

No matter what you were doing, the sound of the bell invites you (and me, all of us) to direct our attention to the immediacy of the bell. “Every time you hear the bell, you stop everything you are saying, doing, or thinking…go home to the present moment, to the here and the now.” [1]

Being alive in the here and now contains within itself a happy promise. There are so many wonders in this life, and not just intellectual or physical. Spiritual, too.

This whole lesson demonstrates the summoning of the faithful to worship. It doesn’t matter whether they are Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Sikh.

Differentiating such ideas is only to the good. When I follow the sound of the bell, I find myself centering in the promises God gives us in regular attendance at worship services.

Dear God, thank You for such good advice on prayer, meditation, and how to sit still, quiet and expectant. Lord, 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 58.

Poetic Expressions in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, August 21, 2015

PRAY talk to God about it

Poetic Expressions in Prayer

I find myself struck, often times, by the beauty of the poetry found in these nightly prayers. Throughout the millennia, individuals have been moved to set down their impressions of God and God’s mighty works. Or God’s abundant promises, fulfilled. Or, God’s forgiveness and blessing. I see this poetry in the Psalms, as well as in songs, canticles and other passages in the Scripture.

I also find beautiful poetry addressed to God, written by sensitive persons throughout the centuries. This comes from books and writings from diverse places like North Africa, the Fertile Crescent and Mesopotamia, as well as crisscrossing Europe.

I’m particularly moved by these two phrases: “Keep us, Lord, as the apple of Your eye; Hide us under the shadow of Your wings.” This (unattributed) verse comes from Psalm 17:8.

O Lord, the apple of Your eye. That’s pretty much the same as the pupil of the eye. The center part. And, hidden under the shadow of Your wings? One of the commentators I read made mention of this image being one of the more favored biblical images, written about the mother bird caring for her young. Just as Your people have written. These and similar metaphors and similies, for centuries.

How touching to include this well beloved verse each night in the Evening Prayer. Dear Lord, thank You for the website www.dailyoffice.org. I pray for each one who uses this website, as well as the friends of the Daily Office, on retreat near Indianapolis. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Freedom From Fear

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 11, 2014

crocuses in Portland

crocuses in Portland

Freedom from Fear

Among other things, I’m a mom. Although I am also a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, I have begotten four children. I go through cycles where I feel the urge to pray for other things and other people. However, sometimes God instructs me to pray specifically for my children. During the past few weeks, I felt that instruction. So, I did—on a fairly regular basis.

I know there are many ways to pray for loved ones. However, I have been using a wonderful book by Stormie Omartian called The Power of a Praying Parent for years when I pray for my children. On and off, I mean. I do not hold myself up as any paragon of prayer, by any means. (Not like Stormie! And not like my former prayer partner, Zhou Hui, either! Both are awesome women of prayer.)

Today, I was reminded of a chapter in this book where Stormie gives some pointers on how to pray against fear in our children’s lives. Some days ago, I prayed through this chapter. I petitioned God on my children’s behalf, asking among other things that God give them wisdom from above, protect them from evil influences, and bless them in all they do. I prayed for this wonderful prayer of Stormie’s to be applicable in my husband’s life and in mine, too.

Today, I remembered the acronym for FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real, and how fear could blindside me when I least expected it. I remembered that I had prayed to be free from fear. Today, this freedom from fear touched me, too, in a very deep way. Honestly, I have not had the easiest last few months. Some significant challenges have come my way. But, I have met them with the help of God, the love of my family, the help and fellowship from my friends, prayer, and the readings in some very helpful books.

I quote again one of my all-time favorite hymns—thanks for God’s promise from the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed/For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.”  These words give me comfort, and give me a place to run to. My God has promised not to leave me, nor forsake me. Whether from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the New Testament, God’s promises will not fail. I don’t need to fear. And neither do my children.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for Your Word. Thanks for Your promise to hear us and deliver us from all of our fears. God, forgive me for doubting You. Forgive me for running away from all Your blessings. Show me the way to You, God, so that I may take my fears and anxieties to You and receive freedom from fear. Remembering Your goodness and faithfulness to me and my family, new every morning, Amen.


“Tomorrow can take care of itself.”

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, God. It’s me, again.

I am back considering one of the Gospels, again. I am so intrigued by portions of the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously, Lord, parts of it seem like such common sense! Especially this part. The end of Matthew chapter 6, verses 31 through 34.

God, why on earth do I keep on borrowing trouble? I know, I know. You tell me, in no uncertain terms, not to focus on tomorrow. And I am not to become preoccupied with yesterday, either. It’s like that acquaintance of mine who told me the other day, “It’s like my grandma said: ‘we can look back at yesterday, but don’t stare.’” Lord, ain’t it the truth?

If I get caught up in yesterday, or preoccupied with what might happen tomorrow, I can miss out on today! One day at a time living! Isn’t that what You suggest? Each day has concerns enough of its own. My marching orders from You could not be clearer, from the last verse of this passage. Live one day at a time: today. I want to believe Your promises, where You said You’d never leave me nor forsake me. I do, God! I do believe.

Thanks for the confirmation. Live one day at a time. That’s sufficient. You’ll take care of the rest. And you’ll take care of me, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes I really get afraid. Or anxious. Or angry. Or a little bit of all of them. God, sometimes I feel like I’m near the end of my rope, or like my short fuse is burnt almost all the way to the end. Thank You for these very clear words from Matthew, God. You instruct me not to worry. Don’t borrow trouble! Thanks for these straight-forward ideas. Help me remember them. Daily. Even hourly. When I need You most. Thanks again. Amen.