Tag Archives: help

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 27, 2017

psalm 42-11 help of my countenance

Heaviness of My Soul, and Psalm 42

Have you ever been full of doubt? Downhearted, depressed and hopeless? Completely lost, with everything collapsing around you? Yeah … me, too.

That was what I dealt with for years. (Seriously, yes.) For years, I would struggle to pray, struggle with my doubts, and especially struggle with any knowledge that God was remembering me, at all. It was almost a daily struggle, for many, many months. For years, at times.

That was how the psalmist felt, too. (This psalm was written by one of the sons of Korah, so we are not sure exactly who wrote it.)

Our psalmist was of two minds as he wrote this. Sure, he told about his assurance in the Lord, and how he trusted in God. He wrote of how much the Lord would help him, and how he would pray to God regularly. On the other hand—he also poured out his heart, and confessed his doubts, his fears, his heaviness. He would mention how much his enemies oppressed him, and how far away from him he felt God was. (Yes, very far.)

And, yet … and, yet …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “Whoever has found God in the cross of Jesus Christ knows how mysteriously God hides himself in this world, and how, when we believe him farthest away, he is just there beside us.” [1]

Some might call this a paradox, others might say it is the mysterious, sometimes unfathomable nature of God. Note the closing verse of Psalm 42: “Put your trust in God; for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.”

I have trust in Bonhoeffer’s closing in this mini-commentary: “He will be the help of your countenance; because he knows you and loved you before he made you, He will not let you fall. You are in his hands.” [2] I take heart in this assurance. Pastor Dietrich affirmed this blessed truth. He certainly had a good deal of challenge and hardship in his life. However, he made it through his struggles and trials. Bonhoeffer continued to thank God for being there for him and with him.

Dear Lord, help me do the same. Please, Lord.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 60.

[2] Ibid, 61.

Help Through the Hard Times

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, November 17, 2015

daisy growing through difficulties

Help Through the Hard Times

Recovery can be a difficult thing. A hard time. Challenging, and stressful. It isn’t all a walk in the park, to be sure. And watching a loved one battle addiction and alcoholism? That can be difficult, too.

I attended a talk and a brief panel discussion led by an acquaintance of mine, tonight. She is one of those who is (and has been) dealing with a loved one’s active addiction. Getting clean time, and then slipping back into the horrible trap of addiction. Over, and over, and over again.

But, that’s one situation. One personal acquaintance.

The hardship and heartbreak can be multiplied and compounded, time and time again. And then, finally recovery takes hold!

Friends, I have news for you: recovery is not easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no. One bright spot? We do have a Higher Power, ready and able to give us a hand. Help through the hard times. We have other people who are on this same journey. (It sure is easy when we know we are not alone.)

Help is ready to come our way, through friends—through the We of the Program, and through the God of our understanding.

Today’s prayer as listed in the meditation book Keep It Simple: “Higher Power, help me through the hard times. Help me trust in Your love and care.”[1] Good words, God! Lord, in Your mercy, grace and love, hear our 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 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 17 reading.

Lord, I Cannot Do This Alone

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 29, 2015

eternal life John

Lord, I Cannot Do This Alone

I am approaching the end of the Lord’s Prayer, and the end of the month of October. Appropriate and fitting that I ought to consider today’s topic. Today’s prayer is about Death and Eternity. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer deals with “For Ever and Ever” (Prayer 538, page 161) [1]

As I read through the prayers in this section, I was drawn to one particular prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The notation alongside of the prayer is marked “written while awaiting execution in a Nazi prison.”

I have done extensive reading of Bonhoeffer’s writings, as well as pertinent biographical information (and two biographies). Bonhoeffer was a sincere man of great faith in the unrelenting face of evil. Most people do not know with precision exactly when they are going to die. I am afraid Bonhoeffer did. This is what he wrote.

“O God, early in the morning I cry to You. Help me to pray/And to concentrate my thoughts on You;/I cannot do this alone.” – As he neared the moment of his execution, he asked for help. He knew he was unable to walk that path alone.

“In me there is darkness,/But with You there is light;/I am lonely, but You do not leave me;/I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;/I am restless, but with You there is peace./In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;” These are five compare/contrast statements. I feel certain that Bonhoeffer definitely, deeply felt each of these negatives. And I am equally certain that he was infinitely glad (relieved?) that God met him and matched him with each of these positives.

“I do not understand Your ways,/But You know the way for me.” – O, Lord. Can there be any statement so truthful? So acknowledging of Your care? You know us so much better than we can possibly know ourselves.

“Restore me to liberty,/And enable me so to live now/That I may answer before You and before me./Lord, whatever this day may bring,/Your name be praised.” – I am moved beyond measure. “Restore me to liberty,” indeed! I think Bonhoeffer knew very well what that meant, for him.

Dear Lord, gracious God, enable me to come before You in grace, truth and rigorous honesty, and to truly echo Bonhoeffer’s words: that “whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.”

@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] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 161.

Day #40 – Freely, Generously. Undercover, Too,

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

BK be kind 1 Thess

Day #40 – Freely, Generously. Undercover, Too,

Today is the 40th day of doing Lent generously. Today’s suggestion was to be generous, under cover. (Or, undercover. Whichever you want it to be.)

I can’t talk about what I did today, other than to say that I did something which was unlike me. Generous, yes! Kind, yes! But, it was stepping outside of my usual way of doing things. Stretching myself, going out of my way.

I did something else today that I have done before, but not for a while. It was a generous, kind thing, too. And—I can’t talk about that, either!

Except to say that I hope and pray that the two very different people involved are blessed by God in a special way today.

Can you pray with me for these two people? Dear Lord, gracious God, we come to You on behalf of these two dear children of Yours. In two widely different situations. Lord, help them. Encourage them. Give them good, positive opportunities. Lift them up and do not allow anything negative to gain a foothold in either of their lives. Dear God, I pray for the friends and families of these two dear ones. Thanks so much for the chance I had to come alongside of each one. Not only for these two people, but for our efforts during these past 40 days. Thank You for helping each of us to make our corner of the world a little more generous, a little more kind. Lord, 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.

(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 .

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 16, 2015

PRAY teach us to pray

Teach Us to Pray (Focus Friday!)

“Teach us to pray.” That’s what the disciples wanted their Rabbi Jesus to do in Luke 11, wasn’t it?

The prayer guide we are considering this month has this request of God as its centerpiece, or foundation. Rev. Howell has based each basic or foundational “lesson” on some general aspect of prayer. He sets up each chapter as a brief lesson or tutorial on prayer. Howell mentions Richard Foster in today’s chapter, and I wanted to find out more about Foster’s viewpoints on prayer.

Accordingly, I checked out his book Celebration of Discipline, in the chapter dealing with prayer. Sure enough, Foster mentions Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. “They had prayed all of their lives, and yet something about the quality and quantity of Jesus’ praying caused them to see how little they knew about prayer. . . . It was liberating to me to understand that prayer involved a learning process. I was set free to question, to experiment, even to fail, for I knew I was learning.” [1]

Yes—the ultimate point, the shining beacon ahead of us is God. Drawing us forward and upward. Yet, I am grateful and relieved that I don’t have to be a perfect practitioner of prayer. As time passes, each of us has the opportunity to grow closer to God in prayer. As Foster explains it, prayer can be understood not only as communication, but as a process.

“In the beginning we are indeed the subject and the center of our prayers. But in God’s time and in God’s way a Copernican revolution takes place in our heart. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, there is a shift in our center of gravity. We pass from thinking of God as part of our life to the realization that we are part of his life.” [2]

This revolution—sometimes almost imperceptible—occurs over time. The starting point is all about me, but change does happen.

As several of my friends and I were considering recently, our self-absorption and self-centered orientation gradually changes. It morphs into something oriented towards God, and towards others. Prayer becomes more and more communication and fellowship with this Higher Power, and less and less asking for favors, requests, and wanting for my desires to be filled, my menu items taken care of.

What do I think is the most important part of this? The point that I cannot achieve communion in prayer alone. God is always there, to help and to guide. To pick me up when I fall down or trip up. (And believe me, I do trip up.)

Thanks, God. I couldn’t do it without You.

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] Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998). 36.

[2] Richard Foster, Prayer (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1992). 15.

Regarding De-cluttering

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 15, 2014

thank You Lord

Regarding De-cluttering

In my prayer time for the past number of weeks, I’ve been occasionally praying through an excellent little book. (with a time-out for Advent, when I used an Advent devotional.) It’s what a book on prayer ought to be: helpful, thought-provoking, insightful. And the author even has a gentle sense of humor. As I read through chapter 25 yesterday morning, I came to a full stop. Not even a yield sign, but a full-fledged red octagonal sign with the word “STOP” emblazoned on it.

The chapter was called “Renunciation.” The author suggested his readers subtract certain things from their lives. This was it. Stop. This statement touched me deeply. I had to think about it for several long minutes. When I finally began reading again, he gave several examples of possible things or practices or habits that readers could renounce. Good suggestions.

My life is somewhat cluttered. This has never particularly bothered me, as it would certain of my extended relatives. (Three of my aunts, now deceased, kept immaculate homes. But not my mother. And not I.) But as I age, I am becoming more inclined to streamline my life. De-clutter.

I have a number of the classic fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 5. Except for self-control. I keep falling down, tripping up on self-control. I’ve been going to my spiritual director for almost ten years now. She and I have had discussions about this area of my spiritual (and physical) life. Over this time period, I have attempted to exercise self-control in one, two, or more areas for some months at a time. I do well for a short while, maybe even a month or two longer. Eventually, I can’t do it any more. I can’t continue juggling. (Although, I am succeeding in several areas right now. May I be able to continue, God! Please! Please??)

One of my daughters and I cleaned our apartment over the holidays. And for the most part, it has stayed clean. Hasn’t gotten re-cluttered. It’s much the same with my spiritual life. Over the fall, I have been more intentional about regular prayer and meditation. I also started an intercessory prayer ministry at my church, where I’m coordinator and facilitator. I have consistently prayed six days out of seven, most weeks in the past months, and a few weeks I prayed every day. Yay, me! This track record is fabulous!

It isn’t that I shy away from prayer, or fear getting close to God. No. That isn’t it. My life is just too cluttered. Full of stuff. Some of it is needful. Work is necessary, for example. Very true! But other than that, my life could lighten up. (So could I, physically. Lose at least fifteen or twenty pounds.) I was convicted, big time. I need to de-clutter.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the kind, admonishing words of Rev. Howell. I need to subtract things from my life. I need to find room—make room for You. Forgive me for having such a full life that sometimes it seems as if there is no place for You. Dear God, thanks for giving me the impetus to de-clutter. I pray You can help us choose those things that aren’t necessary, or need to go. Thanks for the help! In Your name we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

Freedom From Fear

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 11, 2014

crocuses in Portland

crocuses in Portland

Freedom from Fear

Among other things, I’m a mom. Although I am also a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, I have begotten four children. I go through cycles where I feel the urge to pray for other things and other people. However, sometimes God instructs me to pray specifically for my children. During the past few weeks, I felt that instruction. So, I did—on a fairly regular basis.

I know there are many ways to pray for loved ones. However, I have been using a wonderful book by Stormie Omartian called The Power of a Praying Parent for years when I pray for my children. On and off, I mean. I do not hold myself up as any paragon of prayer, by any means. (Not like Stormie! And not like my former prayer partner, Zhou Hui, either! Both are awesome women of prayer.)

Today, I was reminded of a chapter in this book where Stormie gives some pointers on how to pray against fear in our children’s lives. Some days ago, I prayed through this chapter. I petitioned God on my children’s behalf, asking among other things that God give them wisdom from above, protect them from evil influences, and bless them in all they do. I prayed for this wonderful prayer of Stormie’s to be applicable in my husband’s life and in mine, too.

Today, I remembered the acronym for FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real, and how fear could blindside me when I least expected it. I remembered that I had prayed to be free from fear. Today, this freedom from fear touched me, too, in a very deep way. Honestly, I have not had the easiest last few months. Some significant challenges have come my way. But, I have met them with the help of God, the love of my family, the help and fellowship from my friends, prayer, and the readings in some very helpful books.

I quote again one of my all-time favorite hymns—thanks for God’s promise from the Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 41:10. “Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed/For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.”  These words give me comfort, and give me a place to run to. My God has promised not to leave me, nor forsake me. Whether from the Hebrew Scriptures or from the New Testament, God’s promises will not fail. I don’t need to fear. And neither do my children.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for Your Word. Thanks for Your promise to hear us and deliver us from all of our fears. God, forgive me for doubting You. Forgive me for running away from all Your blessings. Show me the way to You, God, so that I may take my fears and anxieties to You and receive freedom from fear. Remembering Your goodness and faithfulness to me and my family, new every morning, Amen.

@chaplaineliza