Tag Archives: help me

Help Me Build a New Way of Life, God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 19, 2015

cleaning up the past

Help Me Build a New Way of Life, God

“Just as it takes time to build a home, it takes time to build a new way of life.” [1]

Ah. So right. I need to slow down for all sorts of things. Just as I slow down when I build anything, large or small, or be careful when I play a musical instrument or drive a car. Or, just as I consider the honestly, all-important topic for me to be open and aware. Especially when considering anything as important as building a new way of life.

The above words from the daily meditation book Keep It Simple ring true.

Yes, encouraging others to be free from drugs and alcohol is a wonderful step. A huge step. I want to give each person who is staying clean and sober, one day at a time, a huge compliment. And now, after each one strives to remain clean and sober, we move on to the next step. Building a new way of life.

Can I do this, one day at a time? With God’s help. Can I encourage people, one day at a time, to seek a more spiritual way of life? Think about it.

Here is the Action for the Day: “I’ll take time to think over where I’m at … I’ll talk about it with a friend.” (Great words to consider, for any age!)

@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.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 19 reading.

Shepherd Me, Good Shepherd

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jesus the Good Shepherd  by fleetofgypsies

Jesus the Good Shepherd
by fleetofgypsies

Shepherd Me, Good Shepherd

Today’s New Testament Psalm is about Jesus, our Shepherd. I read this modern Psalm with great interest. I’ve always had a bit of feeling of kinship with the Shepherd/sheep analogy in the Bible. This topic seemed to be a natural for this book Praying the New Testament as Psalms, by Fr. Desmond O’Donnell and Sr. Maureen Mohen.

Two of the Psalm sections seemed to leap off the page at me. First, and most strongly, “As the sheep know the voice of their shepherd, may I know Your voice in the midst of life’s turmoil.” [1] This affects me, personally and deeply.

As I look back on my life, especially in the last three decades, I have been grateful for God’s guiding, shepherding hand. Even though I don’t always feel it, even though I have often been wandering in the wilderness, lost and alone, I still feel a kinship. And, I earnestly want to know God’s voice. My Good Shepherd’s voice.

A second section of this modern Psalm moves me, in a different way. It is adapted from Jesus’ words in John 10: “Help me to extend a welcome to all—‘one flock, one shepherd’—Christ’s prayer. [2] This touches the pastor and pastoral care-giver in me. Where the first section is focused inward, towards me in a distinctly interior way, this section is directed outward.

I feel I ought to ask for help. I want my Shepherd to help me to learn to be a shepherd, myself. I realize I will only make a halfway decent job of being a shepherd. However, with the Great Shepherd’s guiding, helping hand, I’ll do a better job than I ever would, doing it on my own!

Gentle Shepherd, thank You for Your help. Dear Lord Jesus, continue to shepherd me, please!

@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.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 42.

[2][2] Ibid.

Becoming Aware of God—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 16, 2015

constant in prayer

Becoming Aware of God—in Prayer

Today has been a busy day. A really, really busy day. I’ve been preparing for a special service at the church for the past week, and today was involved in final-final preparations. I enjoyed it! However, I haven’t had much time to even turn around, much less enjoy the beauty of an absolutely perfect May day. Gorgeous weather.

I suppose this is a perfect time for me to start with a brief prayer form of St. Ignatius, the Daily Examen. Taking inventory of the day just passed.

1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit. The day may seem confusing to you—a blur, a jumble, a muddle. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.” [1]

Yes, God was in my day today. Is that a surprise to me? Do I expect God to be there? Or, somehow, just out to lunch. Or, with the phone off the hook so I can’t get in touch.

I know, I know. If God seems far away, who moved? That old saying only goes so far. I know harboring fear, anxiety, resentment, and/or anger in my heart and mind is damaging to my spiritual health! Oh, yes. I know that, very well. But, I can’t be confused forever. I am encouraged to look and listen to the events, conversations, and personal actions of today.

That’s the marvelous-est thing. I can look at the past twenty-four hours at the end of each day. The Holy Spirit will help me take inventory, and this kind of action and conversation will become easier and easier. Dear Holy Spirit, thanks for helping me in prayer!

@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.   @chaplaineliza And, read sermons from

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

Love One Another—in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LOVE one another John 13-34

Love One Another—in Prayer?

You know how something just jumps out at you, and grabs your attention? That’s how it was with me and a couple of verses from the liturgical daily prayer book. Earlier, I read an extended passage from John 13. Yes, I appreciated parts of this whole passage. However, verses 34 and 35 made a particular impact on me.

Our new command from Jesus? Love one another. By this, everyone will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Gosh, I guess people have been messing that one up for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Just recently, I talked with a good friend of mine in another state. She told me about a medical situation with an older relative, and another family situation where things might change pretty drastically. Both are things my friend needs prayer for! (As well as her family, too!)

I know that God is listening, sure. But, I also understand that this command to love one another gives many people a belief structure to grab on to. Loving God is in a vertical direction, it’s true. However, loving other people is very much on a horizontal plane. Praying for my friend and for /her family is a loving thing to do, for sure!

What is loving? How do people show love God’s love today? Dear Lord, gracious God, help me pray for my friends and acquaintances when it is needed. Lord, thanks for the blessings You give to us each day. You are so generous to each of us, one day at a time. Each day, each night. Thank You for Your wonderful example. Help me—help us to let others know we are Your followers.

@chaplaineliza

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 .

All the Saints—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 14, 2015

prayer candles

All the Saints—in Prayer

When I say the word “saints,” what do you think of? What immediately pops into your head?

When I think of “saints,” two things come to mind, more or less interchangeably. First—coming from a Protestant background and upbringing, regarding my theology—I think of all believers. The Apostle Paul calls us all “saints.” It was not a special designation for him.

However, the second strong impression entering my mind is that of the Catholic and Orthodox tradition, where “saints” are particularly revered, especially-holy believers in Christ.

Either way, these ideas of saints can help me as I pray.

The verse for the day, heading today’s reading in my prayer guide, comes from Hebrews 12:1-2. Yes, that great cloud of witnesses helps me as I pray. And as I live my life. As I stand (or fall on my face, which is sometimes the case) before God.

I have many Catholic relatives in my extended family. My parents were both baptized Catholic as babies. I feel an affinity, some familiarity with Catholic believers, and I was born in one of the largest Catholic archdioceses in the country. This has aided me in my work and calling as a chaplain in hospitals and care centers in the Chicago area. Thus—I have been able to come alongside Catholic believers in difficult or traumatic situations, and walk with them. Pray with them. Cry to the Lord with them. Some of them have requested assistance from a favorite saint, several have asked me to pray the Rosary with them, and I agree with them in prayer before God.

I can also think of several Protestant “saints,” who have helped me so much as I have learned about prayer, over the years. Dear Miss Rose, now in God’s presence. A woman of immense faith and prayer if ever there was one. Several more dear ones, who have inspired me and nurtured me along the way. I am grateful beyond measure for their examples and lessons.

As I understand from the words of Rev. Howell, we are not supposed to come to God as extra-holy super pray-ers. Instead, what we bring to God “is brokenness and profound need, a virtually desperate desire to be loved, held, and swept up into the very heart of God.”[1]  This, then, is what I bring to God. This, then, is where the saints can gather round me, and cheer me on. Sometimes console me and sit with me, as I sit or stand or kneel before God.

Regardless, I am not alone. God is with me. And so are the company of saints. That great cloud of beneficent, loving witnesses, cheering me on as I journey with God through this life. That cloud of saints is with you, too. Praise God, they are right at our sides.

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.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 50.

Prayer Lessons from Improv? Yup.

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, May 12, 2014

baby and butterfly

Prayer Lessons from Improv? Yup.

Yes, it’s so easy to get all pessimistic and full of doubt. Show (or even think) lack of faith. I know, I know. You don’t need to tell me. Especially when things are rough and the going gets even harder, doubt and lack of faith loom large. That can happen to almost anyone, especially when bad, sad, or complex things get piled up. All on top of each other. Crushing people with their heavy, depressing, anxiety-ridden load.

I’ve been thinking about doubt and lack of faith. (On my other blog, A Year of Being Kind, I even wrote a post about doubt yesterday. http://wp.me/p4cOf8-8Z ) A shortcut way of description is pessimism, in a single word. I don’t care whether we call it doubt, lack of faith, pessimism, or some fancy, clinical-sounding, psychological term. But—what could I do about these big-downer, depressing thoughts?

I hadn’t even gone so far as to formulate a proper prayer about doubt and lack of faith when I was reminded of my two-year experience doing comedy improv here in Chicago, in the 1990’s. My first teacher, Charna, pounded into our heads the saying, “Never ‘No, but . . .’ Always ‘Yes, and . . !'” If, in improv, I say “No, but . . . ” in a sketch, I’m putting on the breaks. Stop! Hold it! <sound of car brakes screeching> The sketch runs out of gas, FAST! However, if I say “Yes, and . . . ” then the sketch gains momentum! It has the potential to go to further, greater heights. Being positive and moving forward helps everything.

I think you get where I’m going. This “Yes, and!” principle applies to everything! Even though I tend to be world-weary and pessimistic now, after several decades on this imperfect world, I still pray for God to make me a “Yes, and!” kind of person. Won’t you?

Let’s pray. Dear God, God of comedy, tragedy, and every other part of life, thank You for comedy and the ability to laugh. Thank You for Your promise to be with us even when we cry, or are lonely, or are feeling crushed by the weight of so much, too many things. Help us—help me to be a “Yes, and!” kind of person, positive, not pessimistic. Help us to get on board with You and go along wherever the journey takes us. Thank You for being with us, no matter what. In Your powerful, positive, life-giving name we pray, Amen!

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Praying Through the Negative—Admonition, That Is!

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, March 31, 2014

elephant and dog

Praying Through the Negative—Admonition, That Is!

A good deal has occurred since I last posted on this blog—a mere two weeks ago. But I have a new job now! A job that suddenly popped up, and I took it. For the curious among you readers, a two weeks ago I began serving at a church in the Chicago suburbs. My position is that of interim co-pastor, and the whole set-up was providential, indeed! Amazing how quickly things can happen.

In my position as a spiritually-knowledgeable person, I try to stay informed about biblical things. So, I sometimes read things online.

For instance, I read a helpful post today on a biblical encouragement website. Last week, this website featured posts from Ephesians, where Paul is admonishing his readers to stay away from certain actions. Negative (“do not!”) commands from Paul seldom trigger positive emotions inside me! True, his “do not!” commands may admonish me—and be sure that I need regular admonishment. *grin* Instead, what works well for me is positive reinforcement, especially what this website mentioned in its post today. If I know that what I say or what comes out of my mouth has the possibility of giving God joy? Well then, I am strongly encouraged to keep on saying things like that! It’s the way I am wired. It works for me.

That’s one reason I get along so well with my partner in crime, my co-worker and co-pastor, Gordon. He and I have an excellent partnership being interim co-pastors of a small church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. He is so encouraging and positive to everyone—including me. And I am naturally encouraging and caring back at him (being a chaplain/pastoral care kind of gal). He and I work well, and reflect well off of, each other.

My encouragement to each of my readers is to consider Ephesians 4:29-32. Except in a positive manner. How can each of us do these things, live in this way, pleasing to God? Instead of getting bogged down in where I’ve fallen short, I can look at the positive, and strive to do more! Live better, and be an encouragement to others! Oh, walk more closely with God, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the words of Paul that come to us in the New Testament. Forgive us for where we fall short, because we mess up every day. Thanks for loving us, anyhow. Help us to look on the positive side, give joy to others, and encourage each one we meet today. By Your help and power we pray, Amen.

Masks? Or No Masks?

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 1, 2014

honesty expensive

Masks? Or No Masks?

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players;” – William Shakespeare.

“Are we being true to who we are? What masks do we wear during one day?” – Rich Lewis

My writing associate Rich wrote these words (above) the other day, referencing the Shakespeare quote. Both statements resonated with me, deeply.

Who are we, anyway? I know I have many roles I play each day. Mom, wife, sister, co-worker, friend, acquaintance. Are they roles? Masks? Do I hide behind these facades?

What mask(s) do I hide behind, in my relationship with God? In my relationship with fellow believers? I know certain people who I usually see only at a worship service. Sometimes I see them with their “church face” firmly in place. I don’t really know them. I may attend worship with them of a Sunday, but that’s about it.

And what about God? How often and how much do people try to hide in their dealings with God? People talk about loving God, praising God. Coming before God. How much is honest and true, and how much is a good fake job?

It won’t work, you know. No matter how hard I try, God ends up knowing everything I attempt to hide, anyhow. I want to be honest and open with God. Come before him with a willing heart and open hands. At least, that’s what I want to try to do. So help me, God.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for this new year. Thank You for the opportunity to come before You with an honest, open countenance. Forgive me for falling short in this endeavor. You know me far better than anyone in the world possibly can. And the miracle is, You still love me! Thank You, God! Help me love, praise and worship You in spirit and in truth. So help me, God! Amen.

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus. 

We wait.

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, December 1, 2013

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. At my church, that means lighting the Advent wreath in a decorated sanctuary, with everything in the service oriented toward the coming One. We celebrate the four-week period that comes before Christmas. In other words, we wait.

I can relate. In terms of prayer, I wait a lot. I wait for God to answer prayer. I wait for God to reveal things to me. I wait for news, for healing, employment. I wait for people. I wait for a lot of things. I am more patient than I used to be, but I still wish God would hurry up!

God, I know I’m griping. But I wish I knew better what God had for me, in this world. In this life. Sure, I know some good ways to approach God in prayer, in meditation, in service. One great way is one my church just used yesterday. They helped provide and serve sloppy joes at a local food kitchen, one that serves homeless people on Saturday afternoons. What a needed way to be the hands and feet of Christ to others.

But, I am coming back to the concept of waiting. God, I almost don’t want to pray for patience, because I know what that will mean—You’ll make me wait even more. But Advent is not only a time of waiting, it’s a time of preparation, too. At least I can prepare my heart to welcome the Christ-child once again. And, I know I can claim the wonderful promises You made.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for this time of preparation and waiting. Help me to get ready. Not in terms of a material way, but internally. It is an inside job. I know I do not reflect on the Christ-child’s birth enough. Forgive me. Help me do better. Help me prepare for the coming of Christmas in real, tangible ways, like serving the homeless. Most importantly, help me prepare my heart for You. Amen.