Tag Archives: Heavenly Parent

Wishing, Hoping in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, August 15, 2018

hope heart stone

Wishing, Hoping in Prayer

Father Nouwen had an intriguing definition of hope written by a student: “I see hope as an attitude where everything stays open before me….Daring to stay open to whatever will come to me today, tomorrow, two months from now, or a year from now—that is hope.” [1]

According to both the student and to Father Nouwen, when we hope, hope gives us the perseverance to continue trying, striving. Hope helps us to know we are on target in prayer to pray the prayer of hope.

When “wishes” come into the picture, what then? Is that like going to some sort of giant vending-machine in the sky? Or, perhaps, a wish-fulfillment sort of thing, where wishes magically appear—or magically disappear—as the pray-er wishes earnestly. While this may be one way of prayer, certainly, is it the best way? Ought I treat the Lord God Almighty, who made heaven and earth, like a vending machine? Where I can come up to the “God-o-matic,” punch a number or pull a knob, and out pops the answer to my prayer request?

As Nouwen says, wishes might indeed get tangled up with hope, and “concerns for how our wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, our prayers are not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it….You wish that…but you hope in….” [2]

Hope is open-ended. Hope is expectation, pure and simple. Hope is simplicity itself. I realize that praying with hope may seem unduly optimistic and pie-in-the-sky. Yet, is this not the way a child comes to their Loving Heavenly Parent and asks? And, am I not described as a child before God? Please, God, help me to embrace that image. Help me to come to You with trust, and love, and hope, just as a child would.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 72.

[2] Ibid, 73.

Mary and a “Yes” to God’s Request

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 7, 2015

The Annunciation -  Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a vintage Christmas greeting illustration (circa 1910)

The Annunciation –
Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a vintage Christmas greeting illustration (circa 1910)

Mary and a “Yes” to God’s Request

From time to time, I hear about people wondering how Mary could have said “yes” to God. Some people truly think about this, and think deeply. Sorry. I don’t think I ever did.

Similarly, from time to time, I understand people also wonder how Mary and Joseph interacted with each other, as well as the people along the way. When these curious people bring such a thought to my attention.

I wonder more about logistics. And about having a child too far ahead of time. How were the other townspeople affected? Was Mary ostracized? Shunned? Or, were there a few good friends who staying true to Mary, even though she was pregnant out of wedlock?

Even though I have never wondered about that particular wrinkle of the Advent narrative, I can still appreciate the “yes!” that Mary communicated to God. “Yes” to pregnancy. And as Henry Nouwen says, “yes” to the idea of me—of us—claiming that space of childhood. Becoming as children before God. Accepting God’s invitation into relationship as God’s beloved child.

I have no problem with that. I know I am like a toddler to God. God is my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. I guess that is a big enough wonderment for me.

Dear Lord, gracious Heavenly Parent, prepare my heart to receive the Lord Jesus once more as we remember His birth in Bethlehem, in this Advent time of preparation and waiting.


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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

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 26, 2015

JOY today I choose joy

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

I have difficulty with contemplative kinds of things. My mind is just too active. Last month, when I actually tried to pray using contemplative Centering Prayer, I did pray in that way each day in September. However, I did not have as fruitful a month as I have when I used some other prayer styles.

I chose a smaller portion: a piece of a prayer by E.B. Pusey (1800-1882). It concerns “For Thine Is the Kingdom” (Prayer 499, page 147) [1] The prayer is about Contemplation.

“Thou who hast loved us, make us to love Thee./Thou who hast sought us, make us to seek Thee,/Thou who, when lost, didst find us,/ Be Thou Thyself the way,/That we may find Thee/And be found in Thee,/Our only hope, and our everlasting joy.”

I get the feeling that God is the Lover, the Seeker, the Finder. God initiates. That goes along with my experience, as well as my beliefs.

I freely acknowledge that God is named as my Heavenly Parent several times in both the Old and New Testaments. As such, I (or, in several cases, the nation of Israel) happen to be referred to as a child. Hosea 11 even calls the Lord’s child (Israel) a toddler. And, I understand why. I am okay with that.

Dear Lord, I am so sorry I have such difficulty in contemplation. I can’t do it for very long. I know You have made different people for different things. I just know I have very little skill in contemplating and Centering Prayer.

I know some have found what they are good at! That is great. Bless them. I know I can’t center very easily … but thank You some people can. And, I especially thank You that some of these people find great joy and contentment in their centering and contemplation. Bless them.

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

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 147.

Remain in God’s Love. Stay Put.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jesus and fruit - grapes  John 15

Remain in God’s Love. Stay Put.

God loves Jesus. Jesus readily affirms this—His Heavenly Parent is embracing Him, even while He is talking to the disciples in the Upper Room. And, Jesus also affirms that He loves the disciples. Without qualifications, no matter what.

That’s the same kind of love Jesus has for me. And, for you, too.

The liturgical lectionary scripture reading for today is from John 15. It isn’t only the disciples who are encouraged to remain in Jesus’ love. We are, too. This is how I am to stay close to Jesus. Really close.

I am still feeling the effects of some very sad news; it came as a great shock to me. Jesus (and His love) is helping me through it. I know I am told to keep Jesus’ commands, and I will remain in Jesus’ love.

Please, God, be with all who received sad news today—or, even recently. Be with those who mourn, wipe their eyes, lighten their hearts. Be with all those who lost a loved one. Please. In Your mercy, Lord, hear all of our prayers. Amen.


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Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 16, 2015

snowy woods with sun

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Ever read the verses of a hymn and find yourself struck by the vivid imagery? Or amazed by the descriptive words used by the lyricist? Today’s prayer suggestion wanted me to read through a hymn composed by Cardinal Newman in the mid 1800’s, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

This is not my first time reading the words to hymns in prayer. A number of times I read the words of lyricist Isaac Watts and his brilliant paraphrases of Scripture, some years ago. I was struck by how, with the smallest turn of phrase, Watts could make the words of the Bible come to life. So many hymns of the 1700’s and 1800’s have words that hit me in the core of my being; make me lift my voice in praise, or cover my face in fear. (Unlike simplistic lyrics of certain praise songs today . . . but I digress.)

“Lead, Kindly Light.” I immediately could relate to the first verse! “The night is dark, and I am far from home.” That brought me into the experience of the lyricist. I knew what it was like to be wandering in the midst of a dark night. I, too, trod on dark paths, a long distance from my safe, warm bed.

The last verse, as is true with so many hymn lyrics, talks about coming home. Yet, this home Newman speaks of is not our earthly home, but home to heaven. And, I can easily think of myself as a child, especially in the arms of my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. Being carried close and led by the hand. I can remember doing the same thing when my children were small, too. Good memories!

Dear Lord, help me see through these worldly or careworn things, as Cardinal Newman could. As I read this hymn, give me fresh understanding. Not only to lift praise to You as I read, but also to be able to feel with others as they go through their places of dark night, far from home. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

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.

Honest to God, in Prayer

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

cast your anxiety on Him 1 Pet 5-7

Honest to God, in Prayer

Am I truly honest when I pray? Or, do I just include those prayers, those parts of me that I think or feel God wants to see?

What about those parts of me that are less than godly? Less than righteous or pure? What do I do with those? Do I ever allow those parts of me to come out of hiding—in prayer? To “let it all hang out,” as it were? Am I kidding myself when I think that God just doesn’t see or even know about those less-than-holy parts of myself?

God, I know those impure thoughts (and deeds, too!) are a part of me. Yes, I sin. Yes, I fall short. But You want me to continue to come before You, even though. Time after time in scripture as well as in history I can see people continuing to come to You in prayer. You don’t turn anyone away. Not ever. Even though people continue to sin and to fall short.

You are the best place in the world to cast all of our cares. (As 1 Peter 5:7 tells us.) You are the only place I can run to when I stumble and fall—repeatedly. And You pick me up—repeatedly.

I realize that some of today’s modern-day Pharisees would have me all tied up in spiritual, physical, and psychological knots. In some super-spiritual straightjacket, where the real me, the me You intended me to be would be all stifled and muffled and starved. Where some Pharisees’ conception of God was all harsh and angry, throwing thunderbolts at the least little misstep. (Gee, sounds a lot like mean, capricious Zeus, if you ask me!) No, sir. No, thanks.

Reminds me of my dear prayer partner of several years ago. When her youngest child was about one, she would call for the child to come to her from across the room. The determined little tyke would toddle across the floor, sometimes falling down. Boom! Right on the padded backside. Yet time after time, my friend would urge her dear child to get up and to keep going. Keep on trying to toddle to her. And at last, finally hug her dear child to her in a warm embrace.

That little toddler is me. I fall down, and make missteps. Mistakes. Sometimes I may even toddle in the other direction. But I know my God is there for me. And God won’t leave me alone, either.

Thank You for loving me, for caring for me. After all, that’s exactly what 1 Peter 5:7 tells me: that You care for me. You are my Heavenly Parent, after all.

God, I can—indeed—be totally honest with You. So, help me, 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.