Tag Archives: gracious God

Prayer, Critically Speaking

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 3, 2018

candle, prayer, hands

Prayer, Critically Speaking

I realize I have been praying—on and off, and it seems more off than on—for a number of years. A long time. I have been engaged in a continuing conversation with God since my teens. But when Father Nouwen made one particular statement in his slim little book on prayer, I felt as if I could not measure up. No way, no how. He said, “As your life becomes more and more a prayer, you not only come to a deeper insight into yourself and your neighbor, but you also develop a better feeling for the pulse of the world you live in.” [1]

I am sorry. I cannot see any way I can measure up to such a person of prayer as Father Nouwen describes. What can I possibly do to atone for my shortcomings in prayer? I keep telling God I will spend time in God’s presence, but I just don’t get there. It doesn’t happen. I keep missing my appointment times.

Yes, this is a continuing conversation I’ve had with God for decades. I keep apologizing, and then apologizing for the apologies. The Lord must be so sick and tired of my foolish speech and thoughts. (Even now, I feel so apologetic, and I am really sincere about it.)

At least God knows I feel the need for communication, and I also feel the lack of it. I badly feel the absence of God at my side, the desire to know the closeness and intimacy of God’s presence. Yet, I keep forgetting to pray. (But, then, I’ve been forgetting to call my doctor all week to get the results from a routine test. I know those results will be there, but I keep on forgetting…)

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for Your forgiveness and grace. I throw myself—again—on Your abundant mercy. I know You must be getting sick and tired of me and my excuses, my forgetfulness. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You for Your love. 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, 2005), 99.

Does Prayer Matter?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, September 10, 2018

man kneeling in prayer

Does Prayer Matter?

Oh, Lord. This is such a pertinent question. Just what I was talking about with an older friend of mine today. (Yes, another minister, not that that makes it a negative thing.) Yet—this question of “Does Prayer Matter?” only served as a corollary to the overarching question we discussed, which is “Why Suffering?”

Neither of us—me or my friend—came up with anything deeply profound. We simply brought up two options that have been discussed for decades (referring to the wars and conflicts of the 20th century). Such catastrophic events, on the large scale. Such horrific experiences, ahappening to so many individuals. On all sides, of all conflicts.

“If we say that it’s good to turn to God in prayer for a spare minute, or if we grant that a person with a problem does well to take refuge in prayer, we have as much as admitted that praying is on the margin of life and doesn’t really matter.” [1]

Oh, dear God, I so want prayer to matter! Why does it seem so much as if people only dabble in prayer? (Even me, sometimes. Forgive me, Lord, for my inattentiveness in prayer.) I suppose with me, as with many others, when things are going well, or even moderately okay,

“If we think that a little praying can’t do any harm. We will soon find that it can’t do much good anyway. Prayer has meaning only if it is necessary and indispensable.” [2]

Why do people forget You, or forget what we ought to be doing, which is thanking You for all You so graciously give to each one. I want to walk with the Lord, yes, and sit with the Lord, too. Dear God, please forgive me me for my uncaring attitude towards You, and towards prayer, which is a simple wy of communicating with You. 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 84.

[2] Ibid, 85.

Prayer? Of Petition.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 26, 2018

immeasurable prayer power

Prayer? Of Petition.

I often pray prayers of petition. Honestly, I do. I know I “shouldn’t” pray these asking-for-things kinds of prayers, but that’s okay.

(“Shouldn’t,” according to whom? Seriously!)

According to certain people, prayers of petition are not as deserving of the title of “prayer” as prayers of praise. Frankly and personally, I consider this attitude nonsense. So what if I am “trying” to get something for myself? If I make a request of God, I am communicating with God, just as much as if I were making a prayer of praise to God.

Apparently, prayers of thanksgiving are supposed to be more “worthy” of the name of prayer than prayers of petition. And, prayers of praise are totally directed to God, and are therefore the most “worthy” kind of prayer.

All of this sounds awfully legalistic and Pharisaic to me. But, I am just a mere person, not even designated with the title of “theologian” or anything. What does Father Nouwen have to say about this? “The important thing about prayer is not whether it is classified as petition, thanksgiving, or praise, but whether it is a prayer of hope or of little faith.” [1]

Father Nouwen is right when he mentions that the prayer of little faith “is filled with wishes which beg for immediate fulfillment. This kind of prayer has a Santa Claus naivete and wants the direct satisfaction of very specific wishes and desires.” [2]

Yes, I can see why God would not be that wild about such Santa-Claus-prayers. But, when someone is afraid or shy or very young or even filled with naivete, what other kind of prayers are they expected to pray? (Just asking.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, forgive me when I pray those Santa-Claus-prayers. I know I do it, sometimes. When You hear those kinds of prayers, thank You for honoring them—sometimes. Thank You for being a loving Heavenly Parent (which You totally are), telling Your children that You love them, regardless of the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, or petition that they bring to You. Thank You so much, Loving 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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 68.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 13, 2018

man in prayer, silhouette

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

What a punch in the gut! Seriously, Father Nouwen’s words can really pack a punch.

He speaks truth. When you or I give something to someone, whether we want to or not, we often find ourselves in a superior position. Manipulating others, whether we want to or not. Such an eye-opening realization, giving “gifts” to an inferior person.

I certainly do not mean to cast dispersions on all gift-giving. No! Sometimes, gift-giving comes from a sincere love for the other person, a feeling of gratitude, an honest desire to give a loved one something, or some combination of these reasons. However, not always…

Lord, are You talking to me? Is there something that You want me to get through my thick skull? (Sometimes, a two by four to the head is the only way the message from God sinks in…)

Good grief. I have no words. I want to particularly think about these following words from Fr. Nouwen: “When you give, you are master of the situation, you can dole out the goods to those you think deserving. You have control over the surroundings and you can enjoy the power your possessions give you.” [1]

However, if I truly want to be humble, I need to prepare my self and my heart to accept. To receive. “Ultimately, a gift becomes a gift only when it is accepted.” [2] When I finally find myself willing to accept gifts, food, drink, other tangible things, it is then and only then that I have gratitude in my heart. Otherwise, “many people are even embarrassed with a present because they know of no way they can reciprocate. ‘It makes me feel obligated,’ they say.” [3]

Dear Lord, this is a weighty problem, and no mistake. I don’t want to feel obligated. Yet, I know there are some people who joyfully and willingly give gifts! Gracious God, help me to find the graciousness to accept gifts, as well as the wisdom to decide when and where I might willingly and lovingly give gifts. Thanks for Your grace and power, and wisdom from on high. In Jesus’ powerful 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), 29.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 30.

The Spirit of God, Given to Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rom 8-11 same power, words

The Spirit of God, Given to Us

I haven’t read the letter to the Romans for some time. (I mean, I haven’t really, thoroughly read it.) I might have dipped into it, during the past few years. I preached a few sermons on passages from Romans, yes. But I have not read it in depth—not for a long time.

So many quote-able verses. So much that is so memorable. In terms of visual communication, so many memes can be made, suitable for social media!

For the past three days, Rowan Williams has assigned reading parts of Romans 8. I was particularly struck by the repeated references Paul makes to the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God. Third Person of the Trinity, this chapter is one of the places that Paul gives us quite a bit of the information about the Spirit. We find out that the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirits. We discover the Holy Spirit groans without words, in a meaningful way that resonates so deeply. In our place, and on our behalf.

In fact, “we are already experiencing a ‘foretaste,’ an advance sample of the experience God has made us for.” [1]

Sometimes, life seems so routine, so boring. I plumb forget that God has created me with eternity in my heart and mind. God means for me (and, by extension, for all of us!) to be adopted and accepted into God’s heavenly kingdom. What a profound statement. What a profound series of statements, in fact. God is embracing us as God’s children. What a loving, welcoming statement for Paul to make.

I am so grateful for God’s overflowing, everlasting love. Dear Lord, I appreciate finding out more inside information—from You! Gracious God, thank You for loving us so much that You sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in each of us. Thank You most of all for sending Your Son to die for us, and in our place. “It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Thank You, 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] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 70.

Open Our Eyes, God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 21, 2018

Psa 119-18 Open-My-Eyes-brown

Open Our Eyes, God

I know I am a fallible human being. I readily admit that. I also readily acknowledge that I’m just a very young one, compared to God. I am so young. I feel really blind, sometimes, too.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a fascinating insight. He said God sometimes makes us blind in order to see God’s Word. Then, God “opens my blind eyes, and I see what otherwise I could never have recognized, that God’s law is full of wonders.” [1]

Open my eyes, that I may see,

The wonders of Your Law.

Just a small portion of the Hebrew Scriptures were the wonderful Law that was spoken of in Psalm 119. But, I have access to a lot more than just that portion. When God causes me to greatly desire His Word, I have access to many more wonders and riches now. All of the Hebrew Scriptures plus the New Testament?

“It is, in fact, the one who has glanced at the wonders of God’s law who knows how blind he still is and how much he needs his eyes to be opened in order not to sink back into total darkness.” [2]

Oh, yes. I am still very young, very blind, and very much in need of God’s Law and God’s Light in my life. Dear Lord, please help me to fully acknowledge my shortcomings. I do not wish to perish in my blindness.

Gracious God, open my eyes.

@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, 125.

[2] Ibid, 126.

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 7, 2017

Psa 119-12 teach me, words

Instruct Me in God’s Laws?

When I read this brief comment on Psalm 119:12, I sat back and thought about it for a while. Let’s get the verse in front of us, so we can see what Bonhoeffer is talking about.

Blessed are You, O Lord;

Instruct me in Your statutes.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Does the ‘I,’ which is so noticeably repeated in these psalm verses, signify preoccupation with the self in self-criticism and self-justification?” [1] I do not know about that. What I recognize is that the Psalms are one of the most personal and emotional books in the Bible. I always appreciated the fact that the different psalm writers had no problem expressing deep (and sometimes troubling) emotions.

I have never thought of this specific idea before. Does the psalmist have some hyper-sensitive preoccupation with the self? (I mean, unhealthy preoccupation. I am not talking about a normal self-concept here.) That is a fascinating idea, and one that is new to me. I simply cannot answer that right now.

However, I can agree with the psalmist and with Bonhoeffer on his other striking insight. “In blessing God, we confess what we have received. In making our request of God, we confess our poverty.” [2] Oh, my. I know very well how poor I am. I need God’s instruction, God’s wisdom, and especially God’s help. What can I do, but pray?

Gracious God, source of all wisdom, thank You for these words. Thank You for this psalm. Continue to impress these verses on my heart and mind. Please, Lord, help me to follow Your statutes and laws. I thank and praise Your blessed name, Lord. All glory be to You. 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 118.

[2] Ibid.