Tag Archives: grateful

Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 4, 2017


Sitting, Praying, Letting Go.

When I read this small section of the book How to Sit, I felt so badly that I did not sit and pray more than I do. (I know, it seems ironic, or perhaps even perverse, to be sad and regretful that I did not take as much time to pray and meditate regularly. But—there it is.)

Several parts of this reading hit home. For example, one part that smarted a great deal was the following: “We carry our past sorrows and anger and they become a kind of baggage that makes life heavy. Sitting meditation is a way to practice letting go of the things we carry needlessly.” [1]

Yes, these sentences hurt. Yet, they also gave me hope. When I pray and meditate, God helps me to let go of all those things I carry around with me, needlessly. All the stuff. All the hurt, and pain, and anxiety, and irritation, and awkwardness. All the difficult emotions, and hurt feelings, and painful experiences, and the memories I want to hide from. God helps me to bear them, and gradually to release them all.

Thank You, God! You not only provide me with more stability and serenity and peace, but You make it more and more easy for me to enter into prayer and meditation with You. How awesome is that? I praise You, and I am so grateful for Your help.



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), 48.

Grateful, Thankful Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 24, 2016


Grateful, Thankful Prayers

It has been a thankful, grateful past few days. First, a wonderful opportunity to gather together for a beautiful service on Wednesday night. Yes, the Interfaith Thanksgiving Eve service happened, for anyone who felt especially thankful. (And, even for those who did not, but were trying to feel thankful.) So interesting and heartening to come together, to be thankful. What an opportunity to see and hear from different faith traditions and religious leaders.

Yes, what happened in the service was wonderful last night. However—I thought one of the best times of the night was the time of refreshments after the service. Almost all of the people who attended the interfaith service came to the fellowship hall afterwards. And, you should have heard the talking, laughing, and otherwise mingling together going on. Such a friendly, welcoming, wonderful thing!

Today’s turkey dinner (which was superb, by the way) was a family affair. Small, cozy, and welcoming. All of my children—now grown—were here with me. Truly, a time to be grateful and thankful for all that God has given to us.

Dear Lord, Giving God, we give thanks for the beauty of Your world, and for the holiness of Your temple. We give thanks for the fruits of the earth and for the labors of those who harvest. We pray for all those in need, who hunger and thirst because they have limited resources. Provide not only for us in our abundance, but also for the relief of all who are in need, here in the Chicago area, as well as throughout this world. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of Your great bounty, Lord. We give You thanks and praise, to the glory of Your Name. Alleluia, amen!

Peace to all at this thankful, grateful time of the year


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

Community Days, Community Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, November 4, 2016


(All in the family.)

Community Days, Community Prayers

A department store in the area has a promotion and an outreach, tied up in one. It’s a community days’ sale event, where not-for-profit organizations sell coupon books for a small amount of money, the store has a big sale for several days (coinciding with the approaching holidays), and everyone ends up happy. The store has lots of traffic, the not-for-profits get some donations and support, and the local economy keeps humming along.

So, I went to the store today to sell these booklets. (Yes. I did sell some.) I felt good about it. Surprisingly gratified, in fact. I was even complimented on my salesmanship. (I am not sure how genuine that compliment was, but regardless, I will accept any compliment gratefully.)

However, even though I was trying to sell these booklets, I couldn’t help but think of an older senior who is in the hospital. This dear one is recuperating from the procedure that brought this one to the hospital. My mind periodically shifted gears and thought about the hospitalized senior, loved ones, and the recuperation period ahead.

There are several other seniors in my acquaintance who need prayer. I remembered them earlier. In between times, I found myself wondering exactly what the several seniors were doing. How they were occupied, and whether they were doing okay?

Lord, I know I have specific people in mind. And, so often You bring them to mind. I have figured out over the years that You really want me to pray for these dear ones—and their loved ones and families.  I try to listen and do what You remind me to do. Pray for me. Pray for others. Pray for my little church, as well as my diverse community.

Community days? Community prayers, indeed.


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

PEACE? Respect, Understanding, Acceptance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 1, 2016



PEACE? Respect, Understanding, Acceptance.

As I reflect upon my discussions with the young people at St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights, I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large lunchroom.

I’ll be featuring two personal definitions of PEACE today; a great chance to talk with young people and get their viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Maddy’s personal definition: “PEACE is treating everyone equally.”

I asked her to elaborate on such a foundational definition. She explained, “If you treat everyone equally, you won’t feel someone is superior or over you. There will automatically be less fighting.” (How right you are, Maddy. Equal, equitable treatment means less disagreement and less fighting. Less war!)


Second, Neda’s personal definition: “PEACE is loving yourself and having mutual respect, understanding, and acceptance toward others.”

I wanted more information! Neda said, “The second you accept yourself and put yourself in some other person’s shoes, you develop mutual respect for others and their circumstances.”

Yes. Yes! That explanation goes right to the heart of things. If I focus less on me/myself and engage more with others in a caring and nurturing way, I can’t help but promote harmony and respect for others and their circumstances.

Gracious God, thanks for these young people and their inquiring minds and hearts. Help us all to take these definitions to heart. Open our minds to new ideas and new experiences, and encourage us all to #PursuePEACE. Dear God, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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

(And, Maddy, I’m still having problems with my photos! They seem to have a mind of their own. I’m trying to fix them, but yours is turned around. Sorry!)

A Day’s Review, in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 17, 2015

God hears prayer

A Day’s Review, in Prayer

It was a typical Sunday. For me, that is. Work in the morning, a lot of people contact, a piano lesson, a walk in the forest preserves in the afternoon.

A beautiful day, from start to finish. A lot for me to be grateful for.

At the end of the day, it’s important for me to talk to God and thank God for everything I have received. I’ve found a brief prayer form of St. Ignatius, the Daily Examen, or daily inventory. The second part of the inventory has to do with being grateful. Here’s a brief description from a handy Ignatian website:

2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at the work you did, the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.” [1]

“Focus on the day’s gifts.” Gifts! What have I received today? Each day I received something good. Something worthwhile. Whether it’s friendly words, or deeds of service, or gifts of kindness, any or all of these are fine examples to me of good and gracious gifts from above.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the gift of the Daily Examen. Thanks for the honesty and openness it takes to assist me in receiving these many things from You. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


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 sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray

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 .

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Pray, Praise, Commission! Thank God.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 15, 2015


Fourth Sunday in Lent – Pray, Praise, Commission! Thank God.

As one of my good friends said, it’s done! As of this afternoon, I am now officially Rev. Elizabeth.

It was quite a day, to cap a jam-packed week of preparation. Two others were commissioned with me, under the Federation of Christian Ministries. The congregation at the church I pastor, St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove—a suburb of Chicago—were kind enough to host our joint commissioning service.

Much prayer has gone into this, for years. Prayer, anguish, tears, pain. (And that was personal, inside of me.) I know that many, many times I had despaired of ever entering the ordained ministry. But, God had different plans. God kept on putting me in places where I would find myself ministering, naturally. Like water rolling right off a duck’s back, that is almost always how naturally ministry has come to me.

For example, I was minding my own business, eight years ago. I spoke to a fairly large group, and afterwards someone I had never seen before came up and engaged me in conversation. He picked up on my making an offhand comment about seminary in my speech. “So, you went to seminary.” Wanting to keep it low key, I kind of nodded. He pursued it. “So, you have a degree from a seminary?” I sighed, and came clean. I admitted I had a Master of Divinity degree. The next words out of his mouth floored me: “I’m on the search committee at my church. I would love for you to meet our interim pastor.”

This amazing kind of thing has happened to me at least five times in the past fifteen years. Real God-things, or God-incidences, as my pastor-mentor likes to say.

I so appreciate the many people who for over a decade supported me, encouraged me, picked me up when I fell on my face, and cheered me on when I thought I could never make it. Some of these people were at my commissioning service right here at my church. I sincerely thank these friends, near and far, for their constancy, continued nurture, and abiding love. I love you guys!

And, God, thank You for Your support and vote of confidence in me. A common clay pot, filled from within with Your light, shining out into the world. Help me show Your light, Lord, and not get in the way. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest, grateful prayers.


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 .

The Problem with Forgiveness?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 23, 2015

FORGIVE forgiveness a lovely idea

The Problem with Forgiveness?

The problem with forgiveness—is me.

Yes, this post contains more about forgiveness. Such a huge topic. Huge in God’s eyes, and a gaping hole in mine, too. Gaping in the sense that I sometimes find it so hard to do.

My, my. I am oh, so grateful for God’s forgiveness to me! I can sing God’s praises all day long for forgiveness, grace and mercy, abundantly poured out upon me. But the minute I am expected to extend just a little bit of that forgiveness towards some other person . . . especially towards someone I particularly dislike, or someone I just can’t forgive? Well, then. Forgiveness might be out of the question.

It reminds me of a story. A story that Rabbi Jesus told (check out Matthew 18:21-35).

Once there was a man, a servant of a powerful king. Somehow, he found himself in the position of owing the king a huge amount of money, more than the servant could ever pay back. The king had the servant dragged before him. The servant groveled and pleaded and threw himself on his face. The king relented, and forgave the servant his huge debt.

On his way home, the forgiven servant meets a fellow servant of the king. The second servant owes the forgiven servant a small amount of money. However—the forgiven servant forgets completely about the abundant forgiveness, grace and mercy the king extended to him. The forgiven servant has the second servant thrown into debtors’ prison, immediately.

When the king hears about this from the other servants, the king is outraged. Upbraids the forgiven servant, and tells him that the forgiveness is cancelled, and he is now going to prison until the huge debt is paid off. All because the formerly-forgiven servant forgot all about the incredible gift of forgiveness, grace and mercy he had been given by the king.

Wow. Right between the eyes, Jesus. Upside the head, with a two by four. I get it.

You want me to forgive. No matter what. That parable’s enough to make me throw myself on my face, in front of You, and stay there for a long, long time. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Lord.

Forgive me.

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.

Attitude of Gratitude, in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 18, 2015

God thank You for everything

Attitude of Gratitude, in Prayer

Yesterday, we (along with our trusty prayer guide, Rev. Howell) looked at praise. Considered different ways to praise God in prayer. Today, we take a look at gratitude. How to be grateful. Or is it, how to be thankful?

Grateful and thankful do not have exactly the same meanings. But—their definitions do overlap. The meaning of grateful has many similarities to the meaning of thankful. I have friends and acquaintances who periodically write out their gratitude lists. Which is incredibly similar to their thankfulness lists, coincidentally.

However—sometimes I don’t want to be grateful. Sometimes I cross my arms over my chest, stick out my lower lip, and pout. What’s more, perhaps the “attitude of gratitude” is such a challenge to us Americans because of the strong streak of independence that runs deep within so many Americans.

I was particularly struck by this quote from Rev. Howell’s book: “The ancient Israelites enjoyed a huge advantage over us in terms of feeling grateful. Lacking technology and financial security, they knew they were utterly dependent upon God for their bread (if they had any bread), for shelter (if they had any shelter), for taking that next breath, for the sunshine and rain.” [1]

Thank God I have these flashbacks. Or, insights.Thank You, God.

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.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 61.

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, November 24, 2014

autumn pumpkin field - photo credit Liz West

autumn pumpkin field – photo credit Liz West

“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

Yes, it’s that time of year again. How many shopping days before Christmas? What do I need to strike off my holiday check-list today? Where is the party I’m obligated to go to, this weekend? Who do I need to pick up at the airport on Wednesday?

Oh, and our national observance of Thanksgiving happens to occur on Wednesday.

Yesterday, at church, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for all that God has given to us. Yes, our church does follow the liturgical calendar. However—I strongly felt that giving thanks needed to be front and center for our congregation. So instead of the last Sunday of the liturgical year, Christ the King Sunday, I decided to lift up this thankful time of the year.

The Gospel reading for Thanksgiving in Year A is from Luke 17, where Jesus meets ten lepers. They call to Him from some distance (being unclean), and ask Him to have mercy on them. His response is simple: “Show yourselves to the priests.” On the way, while they were going, they found themselves healed. All ten ex-lepers were healed. One returned to give thanks.

Yes, I preached on the one who came back after the miraculous healing. The one who was thankful and grateful. He couldn’t help but come back and say, “Thank you!”

In the reading from Luke 17, yesterday, one ex-leper was grateful. Thankful. Showed God how much he wanted to love and to serve God. At the end of the sermon, I asked the congregation to speak up, and tell how much God had blessed them—a little testimony time! We had a wonderful time of sharing together how much God has done in this past year. We talked about our gathering in what God has given to each of us. Yes, we all do have challenges and trials. But God is good—God is gracious. Even through these difficult things, God provides for all of us so abundantly.

I am reminded of the hymn we sang yesterday, the one about raising “the song of harvest-home.” Sure, the hymn talks about gathering in the harvest. The fruits and vegetables. But, it talks about much more. We sang all four verses. These classic hymns have lyrics that often pierce me to the heart. The second verse tells of the whole world being God’s own field, and the author asks “Lord of harvest, grant that we/wholesome grain and pure may be.” And the last verse? The author states in gratitude: “Gather Thou Thy people in/Free from sorrow, free from sin. There forever purified,/In Thy presence to abide;” in that triumphal time, in that final harvest-home.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, in the waning of the year, I think of the harvest. Gathering in the bounty You provide for all of us. I pray, with the author of our hymn, that I—that we—may be fruitful, wholesome grain for Your harvest. Help us to do Your will, go where You want us to go, and fulfill the tasks You have set for us. Then, we will look forward to Your final harvest-home; and go to be with You. And we will abide in Your presence, forever. Lord, quickly come! Amen.


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