Tag Archives: gratitude

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.



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.

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 5, 2017

Psa 119-5 steadfast ways, bible

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s devotional writing is often heartfelt, sometimes earnest. As I make my way through this anthology of briefer devotional writings, I am struck again and again by phrases used in a particularly apt way. Or, some word or phrase Bonhoeffer might mention convicts me—sneaking up on me in an unexpected manner.

It was that way with Bonhoeffer’s commentary on verse 5 of Psalm 119:

Oh, that my ways were made so direct

That I might keep Your statutes!

The first point he addressed was the difference between wishes and prayers. “One proceeds from our need as we ourselves understand it, the other proceeds from our need as God has taught us to see it. The one is desperate and demanding, the other is humble and confident.” [1] Ah, such a difference. Some might imagine it to be subtle. However, the more I think about it, the more I tend to think that needy people who wish for things might just be anxious and fearful, possibly oblivious of others, or angry with life—perhaps even secretly disappointed or angry with themselves.

Ah, but prayer? People who pray? Bonhoeffer contrasts these needy, desperate ones with humble people who request from God in confidence, with (some) patience, and above all, knowing that God’s ways are sure, direct and straight. What a contrast. What conviction sneaks up on my heart, knowing that I am—occasionally—a whiny brat, throwing a tantrum before my Heavenly Father. (Dear Lord, I am sorry. I really, really am. I will try my best to do better. Truly.)

But, wait! Bonhoeffer has more for us in this commentary! “Out of the crooked and twisted a straight way shall emerge, which is not ‘blocked and made crooked by human doctrine’ (Luther). God’s statutes alone remain firm, drawn up by Him for all times.” [2] Here he quotes from Martin Luther. Yes, faulty people can botch things up. Even well-meaning pastors and theologians can goof and get things wrong. If people keep their eyes on God’s Word, and search out God’s ways, then a straight path can emerge. It is not always easy, but it is almost always clearly marked.

Dear God, You so clearly mark the way I am to travel with You. Thank You for Your Word, Your statutes, and Your confidence that You offer so freely. Help me—help us all to receive Your Word with gratitude. 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 107.

[2] Ibid, 108.

Praying, Pursuing Peace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lord teach us to pray

Praying, Pursuing Peace (Psalm 34:11, 14)

A psalm of confusion, of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. This song of David’s features prominently in the “thanks, God!” section of the book of Psalms.

11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

This psalm was written remembering when David was in a really tight spot. Surrounded by enemy warriors, he feigned madness. Had spittle coming down his beard. Probably disheveled clothes and hair, too. Wild eyes, jerky motions. I can just see him in my imagination. (David must have been a fabulous actor.)

Cut to the end of the story: King Abimelech kicked David out of his walled city. David must have been greatly, greatly relieved.

At this time in David’s life, when he was on the run from King Saul, he did not have much opportunity to pursue peace. He probably wanted peace above all things! In verse 14, above, he mentions the craving for peace. His deep desire for peace. Pursue it! Run after it, full bore! Added to that, he advises his readers to depart from evil. (David must know human nature pretty well, with that kind of insight.)

What about me? Do I fear the Lord? Do I listen to God’s words and God’s people? Do I always flee evil? What about doing good? Am I in the habit of seeking—much less, pursuing peace? What about you? Can you answer these questions I just asked myself?

Good questions, God. Thanks for bringing me up close and personal with these serious questions. I still haven’t figured out all the answers, but I know that’s okay with You. As long as we are thinking about the answers, and striving to do the very best job we can. Thanks, God.


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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 26, 2015

THANKFUL today I'm thankful

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Today was Thanksgiving: a day when America traditionally gives thanks to God. Today’s reading in the daily meditation book Keep It Simple also involved turning life over to God as I understand God.

I just read some heartbreaking and honest Facebook posts where a few acquaintances of mine legitimately had difficulty doing both of those things today.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

True, there were (and are) various things happening in each of these families. With wide and varied situations with many family gatherings. Still more with volatile or even explosive verbal confrontations. Some with lonely, anxious people gathering together over a meal ladled out at a shelter or a church basement. And then, those with sad and grieving people in sad and desperate straits.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Yet, today was another day where many, many people worldwide successfully stayed clean and sober. Through anxious circumstances, even though they were sorely tempted, or amidst incredible grief and sadness. Many, many people successfully turned their lives and wills over to the care of their Higher Power. Just for today. One day at a time.

Another day clean and sober. Another day following God as I understand God.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


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

(also published at http://www.matterofprayer.net

Thank God for Freedom

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

gift - greatest gift is recovery

Thank God for Freedom

I thank God for freedom. Freedom from unmanageability. Freedom from negativity. Freedom from stress, drama and trauma.ne

I thank God for the freedom to be truly me. Freedom to experience hope, healing and gratitude.

Many addicts and alcoholics in recovery have been given a new life. A new chance, a new opportunity to live life to the full. The Higher Power helps those in recovery gain a spiritual perspective on living. God as I understand God helps me realize that each new day is a gift from that same God.

How do I know what to do, spiritually speaking as well as in real life? How do I receive these good gifts? I know! I could try one day at a time. That works for good things as well as for those not-so-good things. As the meditation for today from Keep It Simple mentions, “each day we keep learning, we keep growing.” [1]

Here is another quote from the Prayer for the Day: “Higher Power, You set me free. Now teach me to stay free. Guide me, for keeping my freedom is a big task.” [2]

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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 24 reading.

[2] Ibid.

A Thankfulness List

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, May 27, 2015

thank You Lord

A Thankfulness List

I am sad that May is drawing to a close. With the end of May comes the end of our reflections on Ignatian spirituality. The book Inner Compass is such a rich source of material for these posts! As Margaret Silf says, this meditation and prayer time can be done each night, and can draw the happenings of the day together.

The second step is Thankfulness. “Remember with thanksgiving the gifts of God to you today. . . . Be still in the memory, and offer God your thanks in your own way.” [1] Silf mentions such varied things as a meeting with a friend, a friendly shop assistant, a job done or a problem solved, a warm memory or a falling leaf. These various gifts, and so many more.

I am thinking of my “new best friend,” Joani. She and I hung out (as my teenage son would say), and then went for a fantastic dinner tonight. I am so grateful for her, and her friendship. Truly, Joani is a gift from God.

It’s true. I so seldom can see clearly when I am in the middle of things. And, boy, I do feel like I am wandering in a dark wood, more often than not. Or, is it a dark and foggy place, where I only can see a step or two ahead of me, even though I am holding a lantern to illuminate my way?

God helps me to keep my harried life together. (Usually.) I find that thankfulness is closely related to gratitude. A thankfulness list is similar to a gratitude list. Even when I can only see a little way in front of me, chances are that I also see things in my life for which I am thankful. Grateful. And, that can only help me in meditation and prayer.

Dear Lord, as I consider being thankful (or, grateful), help me to count each and every blessing You send my way. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

(By the way, check out Joani’s blog at http://unorthodoxunhinged.com/ – it’s all good.)


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 .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 59.

Day #6 – Saying Thank You? Praying, As Well!

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

THANK you flowers

Day #6 – Saying Thank You? Praying, As Well!

Today’s suggestion of generosity is one I can really sink my teeth into! As the 40acts post says, gratitude is one of the best catalysts for generosity. Gratitude and thankfulness are closely related. When you and I are thankful, isn’t it natural to wish to share that gratitude? Sharing the blessing(s) we received is often natural, too.

I have been on a journey. A multi-year journey, in which I have traversed emotional mountain ranges, huge spiritual deserts, and rocky denominational terrain. In the midst of it all, I have finally found a home in the Federation of Christian Ministries, an ecumenical, non-denominational association of Christians. This community encourages all of its members in their personal and individual ministerial activities.

After much prayerful consideration and discussion with some trusted, mature spiritual mentors and companions, I put my name (and a whole lot of paperwork) in for consideration with the FCM Circle of Directors. The Circle prayerfully considered me and a group of other members, and I received the joyful news that I—and a number of other FCM members—have been approved for commissioning. That’s the equivalent of ordination. So, in just a few weeks, I and several others will joyfully have a commissioning service at my church in the Chicago suburbs. Thank God!

You better believe I have sent out a number of sincere “thank you notes” to my many friends, colleagues and mentors in the past two weeks! This occasion is a radically joyful one for me. The beginning of a whole new stage in ministry. And, an occasion to let many people know how grateful, thankful and humbled I am for their constancy, friendship, encouragement and support.

So, I am advised to take some time to express my gratitude. (Oh, yes!! Abundant, even overflowing gratitude and thankfulness!) And, I am advised to let someone—even a lot of people!—know they are fully appreciated.

Thankful. And grateful. And so appreciative, too.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Celebrating Someone Special! Praying All the Way.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 7, 2015

grateful for everything

Celebrating Someone Special! Praying All the Way.

What a wonderful thing, celebrating God’s gift to me—of someone special! I immediately thought of someone perfect for this prayer suggestion. And, there is going to be a big birthday bash for this big guy next Sunday at my church!

Yes, our church has a very special boy. He was a miracle baby, and he has grown into a miracle big boy. Levi was a tiny, tiny premature baby when he was born. Through and because of many people’s prayers, good thoughts, support and encouragement, Levi will be two years old next Sunday. And—we all will be having a wonderful birthday luncheon after the service.

I’ve already taken part in the preparations for the service before the luncheon. I’ll be doing the usual things, readings and prayers—except we will have a time of prayers and thanksgiving for Levi during the service! So, for sure I will be planning that.

Today’s prayer suggestion is such a joy. Imagine, planning a celebration of gratitude for God’s gifts to some particular person or persons you know.

Let’s pray for Levi and his parents.

Dear God, what a wonderful occasion. Thank You for Levi and his parents. We pray for this growing, loving child. We thank You that by pointing to Levi, we are also pointing to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your creative hand describing what happened in His life, death and ascension.  We pray Your blessing on Levi and his parents.

God, in Your mercy, hear all of us as we pray. And celebrate!


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.

Instead of a Gratitude List? A Thankfulness List!

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, November 29, 2014

THANK thank you God

Instead of a Gratitude List? A Thankfulness List!

In this thankful season of the year, I am going to write a Thankfulness List. Of course, this will be an abbreviated list. Only the high points, or what I can think of to write today.

God, I am going to address this list to You. You are the main One who matters, anyhow. So, this will be my Attitude of Thankfulness List. (For today, at least.)

Dear God, I am thankful for:

  • My family. I saw all four of my children yesterday, and I love all of them so much!
  • My family’s health. My immediate family is in good health, as are my siblings. Amen!
  • My husband. He is himself. A one of a kind guy. When You made him, God, You absolutely threw away the mold.
  • My job (which I love). I love providing pastoral care, preaching, teaching, love, concern and leadership for the church and congregation I am privileged to pastor.
  • My home. My condo is a warm, friendly, welcoming place. Thank You, God!
  • Plenty of food to eat. And, additional food to give away to food pantries.
  • A working car, computer, telephone, electricity in our home, and appliances to make our lives so much easier.
  • Sufficient clothes and shoes to wear. Plus, good things to give away to resale shops.
  • Wonderful music to listen to, books to read, and DVDs and movies to watch. In addition, the ability to make music, and write books and stories.
  • My health, since I celebrate a sobering anniversary—I had a stroke as a teenager on November 30, almost forty years ago. Other than some slight issues with my speech, I have been in good health ever since, for which I praise God. Thank You, dear God!

So, yes. I can praise God for all of these things. Perhaps I will write another Thankfulness List sometime soon.

Let’s pray. Dear God, I have so many things I can thank You for. And, I know I missed a great deal of other things I could be thankful for. Please, help me–help us to see where we can have a giving heart and open hands towards others. I truly want to spread the thankfulness and gratitude around. Again, God, thank You for everything You give to us, every day. Amen.


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

Gratitude List

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 4, 2014

forest and rainbow

Gratitude List

God, I haven’t intentionally written a gratitude list for some time. Several of my friends and acquaintances write gratitude lists on a regular basis. It’s definitely a worthwhile practice! However, I have never gotten into that particular habit.

Still, I have written them on occasion. A gratitude list came to my mind for some reason this evening. I will take advantage of my being at the computer. I’ll start writing my list.

I am grateful for good health—for me. Without that, life would be very different. I am grateful for my husband and family. My husband is a wonderful, interesting, intelligent, straight-forward person, and I thank God for him. My family—three lovely daughters and one good-looking son—is a joy and a blessing to me. (Even though the second two are still teens.) All are healthy, all inquisitive, all intelligent. I love my children and am so grateful for them.

I am grateful for friends, for acquaintances, even for people I see on an occasional basis but don’t know their names. These people are touchpoints and my foundation, and without them my life would be infinitely poorer. I am grateful for the varying places in my life, my community, my church, my workplace. These are all the scenery and backdrops for my life.

I am grateful for our snug condominium and the fascinating, diverse town where we live. I am grateful for the excellent public transportation system in our town (linking us to downtown Chicago—the big train is four blocks from our house, the Elevated train two blocks away, and a bus stops on the corner). I am grateful for employment—my husband full-time and me part-time. I am grateful for a working car and for money for gas and car expenses. I am grateful for computers (plural—we have several laptops).

I am grateful for food to eat, extra food in the cupboards, clothes and shoes to wear. I am grateful for enough. I am grateful for a piano (thank you, Grandpy!), for music—in general, and for the gift of being able to make and enjoy many different varieties of music. I am especially grateful for the endless inventive and creative nature God has given to humans so that they might compose music, write books and produce artwork of all kinds. I am grateful that I have the use of all of my limbs and my physical capabilities, and I show my gratitude by going to the gym on a regular basis. Sure, I have complaints. Gripes. Things may even be significantly wrong, or at least not to my liking. I wonder what God is doing, sometimes! But if I look at the big picture, my life is amazingly blessed.

Let’s pray. Thank You, God, for blessing me and my family with such abundance. Thank You for graciously providing for our needs, one day at a time. Forgive me for my gripes and complaints, even though You pour out your abundant blessings on us, new every morning. Thank You for the gift of Your grace and Your glory poured out upon us. I know I can never thank You enough, but I can try. Thank You again.