Tag Archives: honest

Prayer—No Easy Matter

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 20, 2018

honest definition

Prayer—No Easy Matter

When I read this first reflection on prayer by Henri Nouwen, his words penetrated me deeply. (Again, I might add. I have a feeling this will happen to me again and again as I read through this short book.) I am unashamedly a fangirl of Fr. Nouwen. His profound writing and superb choice of words consistently hits home. Now, if I could just get his words to remain in my brain and imprinted on my heart…

He speaks of a deep relationship, a no-holds-barred relationship between me and the other. (Or, should I say the Other? I have always honored God with capitalization, as much as possible.) In any case, Fr. Nouwen talks of a deep resistance, as well. Giving the illustration of a woman admitted to a psychiatric center [1] who absolutely refuses to open her fist until it is pried open to reveal a coin…makes me think hard. How much am I trying to hide from God?

As Fr. Nouwen says, “When we are invited to pray we are asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin. But who wants to do that?” [2] This can be such a painful process. Even though some may cry out of that deep place of pain and anguish, the whole process can be painful. Just deciding to begin to pray can be filled with anguish. “You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with small clammy coins which you don’t want to surrender.” [3]

Dear Lord, how difficult it is to be totally honest. Even though You know everything already, just like a wise, benevolent earthly parent, I feel awkward, and shy, and ashamed, and resentful. Disappointed, jealous, sad, and angry, too. Why is it that deep emotions get in the way of my relationship with You so readily? Clutching these yucky emotions to my chest as if they were treasures is not in my best interests. Lead me to understand this deep truth that Fr. Nouwen brings to my attention.

Let us pray. Gracious God, loving Heavenly Parent, You are patient and merciful. You are also all-knowing, so I cannot hide from You—as much as I want to. As the psalmist reminds me, even if I flee to the depths of the sea or the highest mountain, You are still there. You are still with me, no matter what happens. Help me to be honest with You. You love me. Help me emblazon those words on my heart. In Jesus’s precious name we pray, amen.



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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 3.

[2] Ibid, 4.

[3] Ibid.

Solitude, Seen by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 24, 2017


ocean waves and rocks

Solitude, Seen by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I know very little about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, other than the fact she was married to Charles Lindbergh (first person to make the solo transatlantic flight in May 1927). I was unexpectedly moved by the excerpt from her writing A Gift from the Sea, a meditation on marriage. She wrote this while in complete solitude for a month, on an island on the Atlantic shore. [1]

Her primary interest and topic—judging from this short excerpt—seems to be marriage and relationship. However, solitude as a spiritual discipline weaves in and out of her writing.

“A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules….First touch, intimate touch of the personal and particular (the chores in the kitchen, the talk by the fire); then the loss of intimacy in the great stream of the impersonal and abstract (the silent beach, the bowl of stars overhead).” [2]

As Morrow Lindbergh describes the on-again, off-again nature of closeness, I see her repeated reference to the ebb and flow of the tide. “Is there not a clue to the problem of relationships as a whole? Is there not here even a hint of an understanding and an acceptance of the wingèd life of relationships, of their eternal ebb and flow, of their inevitable intermitteency?” [3]

As someone who has been in a long-term relationship myself, I can see how this “inevitable intermittency” can be an actuality for many. Solitude for a whole month might appeal more to my husband than to me, yet I can see places and rhythms where solitude has some definite attraction.

Interesting that this reading suggests that I examine my relationship with my husband. (and, similar to others, who might be led to take a closer look at their own significant relationships) Dear God, thank You for this different kind of internal viewing and questioning, where I am not only examining myself and my internal Self, but I am also led to examine my marriage and close relationship. Help me to take an honest and gentle assessment. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 141.

[2] Ibid, 142.

[3] Ibid, 143.


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.

Prayer, Relationships, and Finances

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jer 29-11 I know the plans I have for you

Prayer, Relationships, and Finances

Finances are the very devil, sometimes.

Between worry about where finances are coming from, complaints or disagreements about where the money is going, and awkwardness concerning spending, saving, and general consumption of available finances? Yes, I would say money can be the very devil. Sometimes.

That’s why I want to pray for relationships and finances.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for helping us to be good stewards of all You have given to us. Encourage each of us to be honest, open and willing with all that we have and are—in terms of time, talents, and especially treasure. All we have and are comes from You. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.

Lord, I ask that You provide for all of our needs. You know how desperate some of them are. Especially in times of such uncertainty of many different kinds, give us wisdom and understanding with finances. I praise You for Your loving-kindness, mercy and grace extended towards each of us, especially for those who are crushed with uncertainty, anxiety, debt, illness and unemployment. Dear Lord, give comfort where it is needed, and help to those who are hopeless and sinking. Gracious, loving God, in Your mercy, we earnestly pray. Amen.


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

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 26, 2015

THANKFUL today I'm thankful

Turning It Over to God—in Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Today was Thanksgiving: a day when America traditionally gives thanks to God. Today’s reading in the daily meditation book Keep It Simple also involved turning life over to God as I understand God.

I just read some heartbreaking and honest Facebook posts where a few acquaintances of mine legitimately had difficulty doing both of those things today.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

True, there were (and are) various things happening in each of these families. With wide and varied situations with many family gatherings. Still more with volatile or even explosive verbal confrontations. Some with lonely, anxious people gathering together over a meal ladled out at a shelter or a church basement. And then, those with sad and grieving people in sad and desperate straits.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Yet, today was another day where many, many people worldwide successfully stayed clean and sober. Through anxious circumstances, even though they were sorely tempted, or amidst incredible grief and sadness. Many, many people successfully turned their lives and wills over to the care of their Higher Power. Just for today. One day at a time.

Another day clean and sober. Another day following God as I understand God.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


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 http://www.matterofprayer.net

Acceptance and Faith—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, November 5, 2015

life is simple - we make it complicated

Acceptance and Faith—in Prayer

Oh, Lord. Acceptance! Accepting life on life’s terms. Accepting things as they really are, not as I wish them to be. And, not as I fear they are, either.

When individuals arrive in the doorway of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve heard all different kinds of reactions. Anywhere from “I can’t find any help here … “ to “I’ve found my kind of people!”

(Or, if you like, when they are ready to be honest, open and willing.)

A twin factor in a walk of early recovery is that of faith. People need faith that this program of Alcoholics Anonymous will work. Just like people need faith that God (or their Higher Power) is waiting for them, cheering them on.

And, perhaps the most important thing about the word “faith” is acknowledging that I have little or no power over how things actually turn out. That is surprisingly freeing. As I encourage those in recovery to place things (including their lives) into the hands of God as they understand God, there can be a sense of release and of turning it all over.

As the meditation book Keep It Simple says, “Throughout the day, I’ll think of the Eleventh Step. I’ll pray to my Higher Power, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done,’” [1]

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for acceptance and faith. It’s a relief to accept things as they really are, in this world. Help me to have the faith to turn things over to You. 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] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 5 reading.

Encourage the Heart—in Word and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 7, 2015

encourage each other water

Encourage the Heart—in Word and Prayer

Who doesn’t get discouraged from time to time? And sometimes, more discouraged than others. I very much needed today’s New Testament psalm on Encouragement from the book Praying the New Testament as Psalms.

I suspect this is why God chose some to be positive, encouraging bright spots in God’s congregations. Yes, God has given me insight and some facility with words. I often try my best to put down words that are true, honest, loving, and—of course—encouraging.

I was particularly touched by this verse from the psalm on Encouragement: “Much joy and encouragement stem from love,/setting at rest the hearts of God’s holy people.” [1] Wow. A great deal to unpack from just these two verses.

This book’s authors (Fr. Desmond O’Donnell and Sr. Maureen Mohen) went to the little book of Philemon for this verse. I had almost forgotten about Philemon—such a little letter, tucked away after 1 and 2 Thessalonians. A letter of admonishment and concern as well as love and encouragement, written by the Apostle Paul to his friend and co-worker Philemon.

Ain’t it the truth? (In most cases, that is.) Joy and encouragement do flow out of love, and are the natural next step. And, don’t joy and encouragement calm people down? Yes, these feelings can get people excited, too, but the excitement is more happy-excited, rather than upset or even riled.

When I think of the term “setting hearts at rest,” serenity comes to mind. And that can only be a good thing. Thanks for such wonderful thoughts and images, God!


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.), 64.

Living with Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 21, 2015

seek to be honest, open, willing

Living with Soul

Living life can be hard. Unless one is in touch with the Soul, that is. Then, life is much easier.

According to Anne Wilson Schaef, if that is the case, life can be much more simple, too. Simple, in the way of straight forward. For Wilson Schaef in Handbook for the Soul, the purpose of life is not to fix, manage and control. Instead, “we need to participate, play our parts. For me, participation is soul-nourishing.” [1]

Yes. Time after time, Wilson Schaef documents her travels to various places in and around the 12 Step principles. The first part of these things—or places—is the desire to “help us live and let live,” one after another. God willing, we can practice this principle.

After all, being honest and open is more important than just about anything.


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] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 136.

Act of Charity—Carried Out

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 12, 2015

encouraging word cloud

Act of Charity—Carried Out

I was a little surprised by the prayer suggestion for today. It’s an action, not necessarily a prayer. Well, sort of both. I’ve been told I have some of the gift of encouragement. I sure used it today.

I was supposed to plan an act of charity for someone in need. And, endeavor to carry it out. I think I did that. Not quite as actively helpful in the way of doing something—like I posted on my other blog, where I helped out a senior citizen by vacuuming her apartment. But all the same, I think it counts.

Here’s the basis for the act today. I have a friend, some distance from here. She has had continuing difficulty with an acquaintance for a number of months, on and off. I have been praying for her and the situation. Today, I wrote her an encouraging email. I let her know I think her handling of this continuing situation is (and has been) just superb. I really mean that.

I think encouragement helps! Truly.

In the book of Acts, Barnabas was one of the early followers of the risen Christ. He was also a great one for encouragement. That’s what his name means. Imagine, being so encouraging to his fellow believers that they chose a new name for him? Specifically, “Son of Encouragement.” What’s more, Barnabas was living through some very uncertain times. I suspect it was not easy for him to act as a positive, encouraging voice, as one who assists others and is a fine example of how to act, even though times are difficult.

So, how did I realize God was there, through this act of charity? My friend thanked me for my continued prayers, and appreciated my reassurance. Plus—those things I wrote? They just seemed like the right things to say. True, and honest. Genuine. I hope and pray that my words were a comfort and support to my friend, reaching out through her computer and giving her a big hug.

Charity = love = encouraging email. Works for me; I hope it worked for my friend. I pray so!

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.

Praise God for the Good—in Me?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 10, 2015

God is good all the time

Praise God for the Good—in Me?

Ever get embarrassed? I mean, really embarrassed? That was my first, instant reflex when I read today’s prayer suggestion. And then—I considered further. Why on earth was I embarrassed, when God knows it all, anyhow?

We’ll see what you think. The prayer suggestion read: Praise and thank God for all the good qualities you find in yourself. And—the follow up question was this: How can you more fully develop these good qualities?

First of all, I still have occasional baggage from my family of origin. I’m the youngest of a bunch of siblings. I still have that nagging feeling in the back of my brain that I’m the smallest, the least consequential, the one left behind. (I can’t blame my older sibs. After all, I was six years younger than the last sib. Of course I’d be trailing behind.) Add some low self-esteem, and the fact I was a chubby kid and turned into a chunky adolescent? Plenty of baggage.

Somehow, I need to square these fleeting, negative images of myself with how God sees me. God sees the positive gifts, the beneficial attributes.

Okay, God. Intellectually I know You love me. You want the best for me. And, You are sitting back, waiting to see what I’ll do with this prayer suggestion. Or, is it a prayer challenge? Because that’s very much what it feels like, right now.

I am genuine and persistent. I have a deep concern for others. People repeatedly tell me that I really listen to them, I hear their difficulties, I feel their emotions. (I suspect they seem to sense where I used to be, and still am, weak.) I also feel a strong motivation to help people, to serve as a companion, a liaison. I am often a friendly and prayerful companion. I am by nature a caring, nurturing, helpful, encouraging person. I have a definite sense of humor, and I sometimes use it to lighten the mood. I enjoy singing and making music, and I have an artistic bent.

If this suggestion was pointed more towards my spiritual gifts, I have the gifts of helps, mercy, a bit of hospitality, discernment, and pastor/teacher.

I feel like I cheated. I didn’t just come up with these off the top of my head. Instead, these characteristics have been confirmed by mature Christian elders and others, and by doing my own personal emotional discovery work. I’ve written them down, otherwise I couldn’t possibly come up with these gifts and attributes at the drop of a hat.

God, I need to take a good look at myself. An honest one, too. Thanks for helping me to see that I am a worthy and wonderful child of Yours. Help me to remember these good gifts and generous attributes on a regular basis!

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.

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.