Tag Archives: Higher Power

Prayer Guide to Simple Serenity

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 2, 2015

Prayer Guide to Simple Serenity

sunset footprints

“ … praying only for knowledge of [God’s] will for us and the power to carry that out.” – Second half of Step Eleven.

My will? My will is often “self will run riot,” as one of the common sayings in recovery goes. Isn’t that the truth? Who else can admit that? Left to myself, my will—my ego—my hubris can get me in trouble faster than a speeding bullet.

So, how do I start to repair my mixed-up will? I pray for God’s will to help me. I pray for the power to carry out God’s will. The next right thing, the next loving thing. This course of action will bring me to God’s will. And, as my reading for today tells me, “God’s will guides us to simple serenity.”

Ah, serenity. So many people wish for it! And, so few people actually get it in their lives.

The rewards of serenity, sobriety and friendship are great. I have the opportunity to offer God’s care and encouragement to others, instead of hiding out in my own room. I have the possibility of sharing myself and my life with God (or, as some in recovery might say, my Higher Power).

Dear Lord, gracious God, Step Eleven has such wisdom, and such common sense. Help me to follow the path laid out for me through Your gracious support and encouragement. Help me to do the next loving thing.

@chaplaineliza

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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

Something Completely Different—In Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, November 1, 2015

Step 11 coin

Something Completely Different—In Prayer

Prayer and meditation mean a lot to me. I try to do one or both on a regular basis. Recovery principles also mean a lot to me. (Did you know that I have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, certified by the state of Illinois?) Helping people in recovery and their loved ones is also important to me.

That is why I am devoting the month of November to prayer and meditation, as seen through the lens of people in recovery. Since November is the 11th month, in many daily reading books Step Eleven is a natural focus for the month. What is Step Eleven, you wonder? I am glad you asked.

I will be looking at “Keep It Simple,” a daily meditation book from the Hazelden Foundation. Here are my thoughts from the reading for November 1st.

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him … “ – First half of Step Eleven. For people in recovery and their loved ones who practice the Twelve Steps, Step Eleven is an important part of the spiritual side of recovery.

As I have talked with people early in recovery, they often are distant from any idea of God or a Higher Power. Many of these people are hesitant to accept the concept of God, even as each individual understands God. That is perfectly all right. Two important words for recovering people are “willing” and “open.” People who are willing to work the Twelve Steps need only to have the willingness to be open to the idea of a God or a Higher Power. That is all, one step at a time.

Conscious contact means knowing and sensing God in our lives throughout the day.” [1] This is the next step. Once a recovering person is open and willing to God, then comes the possibility of conscious contact with God as each person understands God.

Dear Lord, gracious God, I thank You for this excellent reminder to concentrate on You. And, with today’s meditation, I pray that our relationship does grow stronger, day by day. Amen.

@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 1 reading.

 

Pray, Celebrate, Keep Coming Back

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 29, 2015

keep life simple

Pray, Celebrate, Keep Coming Back

Once more, I prayed through the Evening Prayer from www.dailyoffice.org on my laptop this evening. Just like last Saturday, I noticed one piece of the service, in particular. In the Collect for Saturday: “Grant that as we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

I particularly noticed this sentence last week, it seems, out of the clear blue sky. Last week, I subbed for a pastor friend of mine, who was on vacation. And, celebrated Communion. This week, I led a Communion service at my church. A special Communion—or, Eucharist Service, for people who have a Christian concept of God as their Higher Power.

Higher Power? Isn’t that a Recovery concept? Well, yes, it is.

This Communion Service was (and is) for those in Recovery and for those who find the 12 Steps useful in their personal lives. And, who also have a Christian concept of God as each one understands God. (I have led this service on three occasions, and we’re planning for a fourth, next month, on Saturday, Sept. 26.)

The Paschal mystery part of the prayer? That part intrigued me, again.

As someone who finds the 12 Steps useful to my way of living life, I tried to incorporate these principles and way of life into an ecumenical Communion service. All the while, the Paschal mystery was bubbling away, on the back burner of the stove in my mind.

I remember what I found out last week. The Paschal mystery hearkens back to the narrative of manna in the wilderness. God was faithful in supplying the manna for huge numbers of the nation of Israel! As well, God is faithful in expressing love, caring and help for all those who are on the path of Recovery.

I’m keeping it simple. One day at a time.

@chaplaineliza

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

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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

Seasons of My Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 13, 2015

four seasons tree

Seasons of My Soul

I enjoy living in the Midwest for a number of reasons, not least of which is the turning of the seasons. But—I hadn’t considered that there were seasons for my soul, too. Ups and downs, verdant springtime, growing summer, hesitant autumn, and withdrawn winter.

Yes, I am very much aware of the concept of the dark night of the soul. Oh, yes. And, I have experienced it a number of times, for periods of time. Definitely a hesitant autumn, or even a withdrawn winter. I cried out to God (or, the Source, or Higher Power, or the Ineffable), and I got next to no answer. Yup. That was me. No answer, God!

By and large, the Handbook for the Soul is helpful to me. And, especially this chapter.

Linda Leonard had excellent suggestions for the ways of nurturing soul, of self-care for the soul. She had a difficult childhood, by her own report. She worked through the stuff, and I suspect she is a marvelous therapist. (Even though one of her specialties happens to be interpretation of dreams. I very rarely remember my dreams, so I would need to find another way of understanding myself, a different kind of interpretation.)

I believe in the changing of the seasons, and the calendar year. Extended into Christianity, I also appreciate the liturgical (or, church) year. Finally, I appreciate the diversity of expressions of soul, mind, spirituality, divinity. Higher Power, God, any other conception people come up with. I try to be supportive and encouraging, no matter what. Even if I’m going through a hesitant autumn or a withdrawn winter.

I will strive to take all suggestions into consideration, whenever I pray, meditate and reach out for some kind of caring, loving Presence. God willing, yes!

@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 .

Soul and Experience(s)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 10, 2015

God making a way

Soul and Experience(s)

I’ve worked as a chaplain here in Chicago for a number of years. Yes, I have striven to walk alongside many people in my time being a chaplain, sometimes more successful, sometimes less. These patients, their loved ones, and others have come from many faith traditions and various backgrounds.

I suppose that’s one large reason I have interest in a number of different ways of approaching God, the Higher Power, or the Source. Or, Great Spirit, or the Holy. Different ways of naming the ineffable, that transcendent experience.

It is a similar interest I bring to the chapter from Handbook for the Soul today. Brian Weiss brought up a number of interesting ideas, things that I am not particularly familiar with. Like regression back to previous lives. This is something unfamiliar. However, the feelings and emotions Dr. Weiss brought out were very much familiar. And, right in my area of expertise.

One statement Dr. Weiss says is one I can totally agree with: “We are souls having a human experience.” It doesn’t matter whether the experiences are good or bad, positive or negative. Each of us is a flesh and blood human with a soul. Each of us goes through all kinds of stuff, regardless of our faith traditions or belief structure.

Yes, Dr. Weiss brings up an interesting idea. I have my reservations, true. Yet, I believe some people are helped by what the doctor says and the actions he takes.

I hope and pray some people are similarly helped by what I say, and by the actions I take, too. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

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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 .

God-Moments with the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 5, 2015

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

God-Moments with the Soul

The writer of today’s chapter, Marion Woodman, is an analyst. Her focus is on the individual moments that go into a soul-filled day. God-moments.

Actually, “God-moments” is a word I’ve just coined. That is, unless someone else thought of it first. I am only five chapters into this book, Handbook for the Soul.

Woodman speaks for herself. “We all experience ‘soul moments” in life. . . . During those moments, our body, as well as our brain, resonates as we experience the glory of being a human being.” [1] The word picture she paints of the glory and wonder of it? As the young people today might say, awesome.

Soul is important to Woodman, for without soul there cannot be a bridge between “spirit” and “body.” That is her way of arranging it. God (or Higher Power, or Eternal Source) remains intimately involved in her life.

A great big “Yes” to the fact that God is intimately involved in my life! I, on the other hand, still have mixed thoughts about the unseen. Some would say that I have some open-mindedness concerning my soul and its exact purpose. In short, I am not sure exactly what the soul’s purpose is. However, I think both Woodman and I agree that our souls need nourishment. Beneficial treatment.

“If we fail to nourish our souls, they wither, and without soul, life ceases to have meaning. Life becomes boring; it has no dimension.” [2] Yes! Souls need nutrients, nourishment. A great starting point on which to agree.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 33.

[2] Ibid, 34.

@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 .

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Praying as I Listen to Music

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 15, 2015

pen and ink portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven

pen and ink portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven

Praying as I Listen to Music

When some people listen to beautiful music, their response is, “How lovely!” This is usually said while they sigh in contentment. Listening to music can be a wonderful, even prayerful experience.

After Pope Pius XII received the Sacrament of the Sick shortly before his death, he requested to hear the third movement of the Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. He wanted to die hearing this peaceful, lyrical movement. How wonderful, being able to script the soundtrack of one’s own life—or, death, as in the case of Pope Pius XII.

This was my prayer suggestion for today. To listen to this beautiful piece of music, and write a reflection on it, afterwards.

This suggestion was right up my alley! Of course, the two authors of this book had no idea that I have a degree in church music, so I am more than adequately conversant with the music of Beethoven. A wonderful composer, and one of my top ten composers of all time. (Of classical music, anyway.) Accordingly, I did listen to it. And, I was calmed from my experience of hearing this peaceful music. I did not use many words, but I felt prayerful and at peace deep within as I sat in reflection, meditation and prayer.

I found myself getting in touch with a God who is so loving and so creative that my Higher Power has arms stretched wide open! And, that is always something for me to be reminded of. Thank You, dear Lord!

 

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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

When Fasting—In Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 15, 2015

fasting - empty plate

When Fasting—In Prayer

Fasting. Renunciation. Doing without. Skipping a meal—or two, or three.

Fasting may not be considered “popular” or trendy in certain circles today. Maybe, just maybe, believers in God could consider fasting, again. And perhaps, you or your friends already fast. And pray. If so, wonderful!

For some people, fasting is one among many spiritual disciplines. Even if you have never fasted yourself, you probably have some familiarity with the idea of it. The idea of doing without, abstaining from food, even from drink, is centuries old. For example, “giving up” or abstaining from something as part of a Lenten discipline.

Some years ago, I did, indeed, fast. On a fairly regular basis, I ate no food for some amount of time. Usually a twenty-four hour period of time. But a number of times, I went without food for two days, and even three days, several times. When I was in the middle of this practice, I often felt the benefit. At times, I felt a clarity, a freedom in prayer and communication with God.

But then, I felt this clarity and freedom at other times when I was not fasting, as well. Note: there is no sure-fire formula, no seven-easy-steps for having a deep, significant encounter with God every single time!

 Now is the time for a necessary caution. If anyone has any issues with eating, or with your health, be careful. Perhaps even ask your doctor or another health professional about fasting and whether it might possibly be hazardous for you. Be prudent and cautious, please. Be wise, not foolhardy. I care about you and whether what I suggest—fasting—may be damaging or hurtful. If so, don’t do it! There are many other ways to come close to God.

For many throughout the world, fasting is a proven aid to prayer. As our helpful prayer guide Rev. Howell says, “Fasting is giving up something good in itself, something I have and love, but which I do without for a time for the sake of God. When we satisfy every desire, and as often as possible, then our deeper desire for God comes to be masked over, desensitized.” [1]

Fasting usually is in reference to food (primarily) and drink (secondarily). But fasting can also be from other things, too. What about a silent retreat—fasting from speaking? Or fasting from media—no screens, for a period of time? You could be creative in choosing something to fast from. God loves it when we use the creativity God installed within each of us.

I don’t do food fasts very often now, because of health reasons. Yet, I know that this is a valid, beneficial, centuries-old practice. Praise God, I can find a way to focus in on spiritual things and develop my daily spiritual walk with my God, my Higher Power. So, help me, God.

For more information and a good, basic introduction, I suggest the chapter on fasting from Richard Foster’s classic book on spiritual disciplines, A Celebration of Discipline.

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), 53.

I Got Rhythm—in Prayer?

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, February 23, 2014

pray more worry less

I Got Rhythm—in Prayer?

I keep banging up against that scary word “discipline.” It’s related to the daunting and also-scary word “self-control.” Yeah. Those are two things I do not have in abundance.

I’ve talked about my struggles with prayer here before. How I can’t seem to get truly consistent in prayer (that is, daily, as in every day). However, I am pleased to say that I followed the Advent prayer calendar in December with only two or three days missed. Still, I haven’t successfully done the daily prayer-thing, ever.

Boy, I felt guilt. (Again, I might add. Not as much as years ago, when I was involved with a bunch of legalistic Christians, but still.) Even though I knew that God wasn’t mad at me, I couldn’t help but suspect God was the tiniest bit disappointed. Maybe more than the tiniest bit, sometimes.

And then—I came across a page in a book on prayer that I’m regularly using for my prayer and meditation time. Last week was when it happened. The book is by the Rev. Martin Smith, a skilled spiritual director and now a retired Episcopal priest. (His book The Word Is Very Near You is subtitled A Guide to Praying with Scripture.) On page 70, Fr. Martin mentions the word “rhythm” in association with the prayer and meditative life.

The sentences I was particularly struck with run as follows: “For some people the word ‘discipline’ has overtones of unyielding regulation and stern subjection of spontaneity, but rhythm belongs in all organic life. . . . Unless we take responsibility for the patterning of our lives others will dictate to us how to live.” I appreciate the idea of there being a rhythm to prayer and meditation. This rhythm reminded me somewhat of Ecclesiastes 3, and the rhythm inherent to life. Rhythm is similar to time, and time is a focus of Ecclesiastes chapter 3.

Rhythm is also an integral part of music. Since I am musical and can read music notation quite well, I relate to such an analogy. If I consider my life punctuated with prayer, in a sort of a rhythm, that makes good sense to me. I understand that, and I don’t end up feeling guilty! (Well, at least not as guilty.) And just as rhythm is a foundational part of the patterning of music, so rhythm can aid in the patterning of my life with prayer and meditation.

Now, some may think this is an easy way out of daily prayer and meditation. For some, yes. But I felt loaded down with guilt and depression. True, the guilt was only here occasionally. But sometimes, it got really bad! Here, Fr. Martin told me about rhythm! Rhythm, that regular yet pulsing, periodic downbeat of music. This was something I could understand! What an assist for my prayer time! Thanks to everyone who took the time for me, so I could find the time to pray.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for granting us all access to You. Thank You for the invitation to come and see you each day. Each of us has pains, hurts, and worse. But You are faithful. You are merciful. Please help me to continue with the rhythm of prayer. In Your name, Amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Waiting in silence

A few days ago, one of the passages I meditated on in prayer was the beginning of Psalm 62. I don’t always pray with a specific passage of Scripture in mind, but recently I’ve been using a method of prayer called Benedictine Rumination. (ruminating or chewing repetitively on Scripture—I’ll have to talk more about that, soon)

I was struck by the first part of the first verse of Psalm 62. “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow!

Sometimes, when I encourage my mind, body and spirit to enter into prayer, I feel myself sinking into prayer. This particular prayer time was one of those times. Leaving behind the hurry, the hustle and bustle, the noise, everything distracting or worrisome. I felt a welcome from God, and the gentle silence. Open, friendly, peaceful presence.

Sadly, I was not able to stay there during the whole prayer time. However, I had experienced it for part of it. I knew it was there. I was able to tap into that warm presence, that gentle silence, for some of the time. I really needed it! I sure could use it on a regular basis, God!

I understand that silence is something that makes some people uncertain. Even anxious. Not me. (that is, usually) But I have a difficult time getting there. Your warm, gracious welcoming arms are waiting for me, I know. Thanks for being there. And thanks for being warm and welcoming, instead of cold and distant.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes it’s difficult to enter into prayer, much less break into Your gentle silence. Please help me to leave worry, anxiety and hurry behind. Forgive me for focusing on sad things, angry feelings, and hurt places in my life. I know Your presence is waiting. Thanks for making Your warm, gracious silence available, any time I need it. Any time I want it. Thanks, God. Amen.