Tag Archives: hear our prayers

Happy, Faith-filled Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 8, 2019

prayer hands

Happy, Faith-filled Prayer

What a wonderful experience, to have happy, faith-filled prayer! That is what St. Ignatius intends for us to have, as we enter into the part of his prayer practice called meditation.

As Father Gallagher mentions M. and his prayer experience with the passage of the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18), “he tells us that the words were ‘alive,’ ‘almost directly touching my heart,’ and…describes an unhurried, happy, faith-filled reflection on the words of the Scripture, with profound awareness of the Lord’s presence.” [1] What an intimate experience of God.

This deep, intimate communication with God was intensely personal for M. As he went deeper and deeper into prayer, this personal kind of communication delighted him, deep down to his inmost being. He felt “spiritually happy” for days.

As I reflect on Scripture, I find it difficult to make this kind of deep connection all the time, in prayer. Certainly, difficult all the time, and even most of the time. The best I can do is make a connection like M.’s on occasion. Sometimes. Yet, when I do, I have vivid flashes when I think back on those times. For example, some years ago I had an intense experience of Jesus and the man (or, person—leaving it open to the possibility of a woman) with a withered hand whom Jesus met in the synagogue. (From Luke 6:6-11.)

I have had hundreds of prayer experiences since, yet, I revisit that one in my mind and memory. Yes, I was practicing Ignatian prayer, and it was a particularly intense experience. Similar to M., I did have a deep sense of the presence of Jesus with me, alongside of me.

St. Ignatius considers this type of meditative prayer as reflective, that “process by which we enter the richness of God’s Word and hear the Word as spoken personally to us today.” [2] As we are now in Lent, perhaps that will be my Lenten practice. Or, maybe one of my practices.

I am already reading through a Lenten devotional book, and it has some interesting ideas. However, the devotional only has one perhaps two verses of Scripture each day. I wonder whether I might find some additional prayer prompts? God willing, I suspect I will be able to find some Bible readings for each day in Lent. Help me, dear God, as I do these practices, a draw closer to You and Your heart. 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 27.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer: God Moves Us

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 26, 2019

candles, darkP

Prayer: God Moves Us

Prayer can be so intimate, so up-close-and-personal.

So many accounts of times when people felt utterly awestruck, as with M. while he read John 10, where Jesus talks about Himself as the Good Shepherd. “It was a beautiful time of prayer, an intimate time. There was so much in the words; it’s so beautifully written. I wasn’t reading words; it was alive, almost directly touching my heart.” [1]

I read about these times of prayer, and I feel uplifted, just reading these words. And then—at the same time, I feel so sad. Sad, and almost resentful. Why can’t I have these types of experiences on a regular basis? I do have similar experiences, but rarely. Why has my prayer life been dry and parched, like wandering in the wilderness, for decades? (Yes, for literal decades.)

The idea of letting the words of Scripture swim in one’s heart is certainly an imaginative one. Being immersed in the words of the Bible—so much so that I feel all filled to the brim with these life-giving words—what an image for my sometimes overactive imagination.

I would think this feature of our brains really causes Ignatian prayer and meditation to bear a great deal of fruit. How wonderful to be an imaginative pray-er. I do not think that access to prayer (speaking to God) and meditation (listening to God) are both required for our communication with our Heavenly Parent, but I suspect it helps.

But…what if the usual ways of praying don’t really work for some people? What would it be like to never have a close relationship with God from prayer? I am assuming some people have real difficulty in this. I truly do not know what I would suggest, other than the different more kinetic ways of prayer. I know it is possible to do Ignatian prayer and walk the labyrinth at the same time. (I’ve done both—at the same time.) But, other than kinesthetic praying, I do not know what to suggest to these friends. I guess I need to learn more about prayer styles, and refresh my memory with suggestions of diverse ways of communication with God.

We ought to breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for this opportunity to find hope. Hope in our dear Lord Jesus. Dear Lord, thanks for giving us a number of ways to communicate with You. Help each one praying find a way of prayer-communication that each one feels touched now. Dear 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 24.

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 23, 2017

candles-and-cross

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

As I read this short excerpt from How to Sit tonight,[1] I couldn’t help but be reminded of my chaplain internships. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of strong emotions, and how the regular practice of prayer and meditation helps many people manage their emotional state. In all of my chaplain internships, we were shown several helpful ways of dealing with strong emotions (which included prayer and meditation).

Sometimes, strong emotions can carry a person away, devastate them, send them to the heights of ecstasy, or infuriate them beyond all measure. Problem: how to manage yourself and your emotions if you have a really, really strong emotion going in with you? (Believe me, at times in my chaplain internships, as well as my work as a chaplain, I faced some wild, intense emotional situations.)

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the regular practice of prayer and meditation as a great help to remaining on an even keel, in situations with strong emotion. (I suspect this practice would be a bit easier for someone who had an affinity for quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer and meditation.) I have experienced this firsthand. I know how valuable deep breathing can be, as well as the use of meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to the helpful nature of regular, concerted prayer, for myself, my family or friends, or in intercession for the loved one of someone who asks me for prayer.

My chaplain internships were so worthwhile. (As is my practice of prayer and meditation.) God, thank You for providing such opportunities for me to learn about these wonderful practices. Each and every one. Lord, in Your mercies, hear 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 72-73.

In Which I Define Terms

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 16, 2016

fish-ichthus

In Which I Define Terms

I am uncomfortable with the term “Evangelical.”

There. I have said it. There it is, in black and white. (At least, in black and white on the computer screen.)

Looking at my past, I do have some Evangelical street cred. Yes, I was active in a bible study group in high school and into college, which led me to a non-denominational bible church on the northwest side of Chicago. I learned Pietistic practices, which were oddly and wonderfully balanced by the liturgical learning and careful Lutheran catechism of the church where I was baptized and confirmed.

And, to crown all this bible learning, I received a bachelor’s degree from a non-denominational bible college in downtown Chicago, in the mid-1980’s. (In church music. I wasn’t allowed to take biblical Greek or study to become a pastor at the time, since I was a woman. Women weren’t permitted/allowed to serve freely or utilize their God-given gifts. At least, under that particular stream of Evangelicalism. But, I digress.)

Yes. I used to identify as an Evangelical. Over the years, how twisted that term has become. So much rule-keeping, modern-day Pharisaism/legalism, and—most frightening to me, bigotry and xenophobia. Arrogant, condescending, cultural baggage is also hung on that moniker, causing me to shrink from using the term for myself.

What particularly opened my eyes to the smallness and meanness of modern-day Evangelicalism was (in no particular order), seminary training, counseling training and on-the-job work as an addictions counselor, chaplain training, and on-the-job work as a chaplain in an urban setting.

I sometimes take refuge in the historical definition of Evangelical, as in one who freely and gladly shares the Good News of the Gospel. Period. I am more likely to align myself with that simple definition, which is sadly antiquated, nowadays.

And now, post-presidential election, I have absolutely NO idea what an Evangelical is, or isn’t, or stands for or against or anything else. I find myself running to the embrace of a God who is so much bigger than anything this world has for me. My Refuge and Strength, and a very present Help in times of trouble and need.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for our country, for our representatives, for the leadership. Lift up all of the diverse voices, and downtrodden and silenced groups across this land. Draw us together as the unified people we strive to be, and show us all the way to walk together with openness, genuineness, tolerance, and—yes—love. (Even towards Evangelicals. 😉 ) 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

Unabashed Prayers—for the Cubs

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Unabashed Prayers—for the Cubs

chicago-cubs-win

At long last, after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Holy cow! Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! Cubs win! Cubs win!

The Cubs and their dry spell of over a century have been legend in the annals of baseball, and even in the wide world of sports. These past seven games—and especially Game 7—have been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, of absolute rapture to the depths of despair, to be sure.

However. Now this brash, young team full of hope, this winning-est team in major league baseball, has achieved the pinnacle of their sport. The 2016 World Series. Fly the “W” flag!

Lord knows, I have tried not to hope too much. I have seen my hopes and dreams dashed time and again, with many, many other Cubs fans, in many, many other seasons.

But, I tell ya, pinch me. It can’t be true. (Can it? Is it?)

I think it is. Hell is freezing over, right this minute.

God knows that I try to pray for a good, clean game, when I am asked to pray for a sporting event. I pray for both teams to do their very best, and for there to be as few errors, or penalties, or mistakes as possible. Except—I have been praying for the Cubs, the last few games. It’s not that I dislike the Cleveland players. Certainly not! That team is absolutely an excellent team. If the Cubs had had to play against Cleveland during the regular season, I am afraid they might not have had quite as many “wins” to their credit.

But, I digress. Yes, I prayed for the Cubs. And, the Almighty looked with favor upon our boys in blue. Thank You, God.

(I do pray for the celebrations tonight, and into tomorrow. Please, Lord, don’t let anyone get hurt. Keep people safe. Help everyone celebrate in a fun, excited way, and help us welcome the Cubs back to Chicago with open arms. Lord, in Your mercy and grace, 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

Interfaith Walk for Peace, and More

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 24, 2016

instrument-of-your-peace-dove

Interfaith Walk for Peace, and More

Today was the Morton Grove Interfaith Walk for Peace. An event that I have been working on and hoping and praying for, for a bunch of weeks. Such a great response for the Interfaith Walk! All ages, strollers, someone in a wheelchair. Wonderful cross-section of the community in Morton Grove walking with us today.

As I went from one group of walkers to another, I heard bits of conversations—friendly, encouraging talk between diverse people. People from different places and from different faith traditions.

I heard many people today looking forward to another Morton Grove Interfaith Walk for Peace next September! With a nearby suburb having a Peace Festival this weekend as well, I can envision a North Shore Peace Initiative—especially if many of us talked to friends about Interfaith Walks in other, neighboring suburbs of Chicago.

Just think. If people built bridges of peace, friendship and harmony. Just imagine. Less ignorance and misunderstanding. What a wonderful place the Chicago area could be.

Such an awesome start! Let’s keep the conversation going. Dear God, let it be so! Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for peace, harmony, and an end to conflict and violence. Amen.

Peace.

@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

PEACE: No Chaos, No Confusion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, August 14, 2016

God the author of peace

PEACE: No Chaos, No Confusion

Presenting another in the series of definitions of PEACE.

I was in the Englewood neighborhood some days ago, serving dinner on the south side of Chicago. A mothers’ group called Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK) offers a free meal outreach called Give Them a Meal.

The dinner outreach was packing up, and a local church was getting ready to set up on the same corner. Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church has an outdoor worship service every Wednesday night during the summer. Complete with sound system and moveable pulpit, that church has a regular weekly outreach to their community.

I struck up a conversation with one of the congregation members. Even though she was among those preparing to transform the street corner into the setting for a worship service, she still has time to give me her view on peace.

Darlene’s personal definition: “PEACE is knowing that you can wake up on a daily basis and know that there is no chaos and no confusion.”

I was struck by Darlene’s definition. No chaos, and no confusion. What she was describing—in reverse—is not only the absence of peace, it is the opposite of peace, in a fundamental sense. When a situation is chaotic and confusing, or when a person’s life is in chaos and confusion, there is no peace. At all.

It also made me think of the concept of waking up in a peaceful, serene place. A placid, safe setting. How many times does Darlene—and others in her community—wake up to the sounds of strife, or arguments, or gunfire in the streets? Truly, something to yearn for, to pray for.

Dear Lord, thank You for Darlene’s definition. I pray for her and for the congregation at Pleasant Green M.B. Church. Help that group of believers in God be a witness for Your peace, Your reconciliation and love, in the Englewood community. 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 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