Tag Archives: horrible

Prayer. More About Breath

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 26, 2018

teach us to pray,

Prayer. More About Breath

When I read a section from this little book of Father Nouwen’s today, I immediately thought of people who are very much hurt. Hurt on the inside. They hurt so much that they can hardly open up to anyone. Not even to God.

Yes, I know Father Nouwen wrote so eloquently about prayer, and about it being the life-breath of God. That is true in so many situations, yes. But, not in all.

Last week was World Refugee Day. I read what several prominent church leaders had to say about the incredibly sad situation that so many people are in, worldwide. Migrants, refugees, fleeing for their lives, in most cases. Fleeing because of war or conflict, violence, famine, flood, or any of a dozen other reasons.

And, I prayed. I prayed for these dear ones, all over the world. I prayed for the desperate or horrible situations from which they flee. I lamented. I wanted to raise my fists to God, crying out, “How could this happen?” But, I didn’t.

However—I am sadly aware that some of these refugees are incredibly hurt and angry. Some of these refugees and migrants cry out to God, asking about justice, about free passage to a stable life, about a decent place to sleep and food to eat. Things I know nothing about, since I have had stability and a roof over my head for all of my life. (Not necessarily the most emotionally-functional living situation, but still, pretty stable.)

I am afraid many refugees are too emotionally and psychologically hurt to pray. It pains me to think that, yet I realize it probably is a reality.

At the same time, I was so touched by Father Nouwen’s quote from Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Song for the Asking.” [1] He speaks of allowing others to appear to him as they choose. “Then people can talk to one another and share their lives in a way where heart speaks to heart.” [2]

Alas, I do not think many refugees are quite ready to enter into dialogue, sharing their lives in such a way. I suspect their lives right now are much too desperate. I hope and pray that refugees worldwide can arrive at a place where prayer and thanksgiving become possible for them. I pray that such dialogue becomes a possibility for them, too. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our heartfelt prayers.




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] “Song for the Asking,” Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel album Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970, Columbia)

[2] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 32.

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 26, 2017

Psa 58-10 vengeance

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

More evil. And, even more evil. That’s how much vengeance-praying King David is doing in this psalm. I know it is an “imprecatory psalm.” [1] But, I did not realize how many horrible things David was praying in this psalm.

Yes, I know King David faced some awful situations in his life. However, I also thought the Lord told God’s people to forgive, and to pardon, and to confess their sins. And, especially “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

“The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Seriously? Lord, are You serious? I need to look closely at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s explanation of this. He says, “Once more we shudder as we read this psalm….My dear congregation, if we avoid this we have understood nothing. This concerns God and His righteousness only….Whoever shrinks from this joy in the vengeance of God and in the blood of the wicked does not yet know what took place on the cross of Christ.” [2]

I need to sit back and take a long breath. God, I am reminded again that Your righteousness has been fulfilled by the cross of Christ. And, it is only through His death on the cross that I can even lift my head above the ground in anything less that abject guilt and shame.

Yes, I am still horrified by such bloodthirsty talk on David’s part. However, I also need to consider those last words of our Lord Jesus on the cross. He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And then, truly, I can say with Bonhoeffer, “When we behold Him, the crucified one, we realize God’s wrath against us wicked ones. And in the same moment we experience His deliverance from this wrath.” [3]

It is then I experience what Isaiah experienced in the temple, in the sixth chapter of his book. The angel flies to me with the coal of holy fire and burns my sin away, too. Lord, here am I.

Yes, there is judgment at the cross of Christ. Yet, there is pardon, too. “There, my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary!”



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] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Imprecatory-Psalms

[2] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 82.

[3] Ibid, 83.

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 9, 2017

SERVE do something for those who can't repay

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

A good many people know of Dorothy Day, of her love for the poor and her lifelong work in social settings that were gritty, ugly, even heartbreaking. She began as a journalist, converted to Catholicism, and started publishing a small newspaper called “The Catholic Worker” which shook large parts of the American society. (Especially the managers and owners of different companies and corporate leaders.)

However, some people do not know about how increasingly important Christianity had become to Ms. Day. “Her Christianity was deeply formed by prayer and study of the Gospels.” [1] Plus, she always strives to live exactly the way that our Lord Jesus lived, showing compassion, care and mercy to all she could, in such desperate and hopeless situations.  It takes someone with a strong stomach and constitution to read the words Ms. Day writes in her memoir.

“Yes, we have lived with the poor, with the workers, and we know them not just from the streets, or in mass meetings, but from years of living in the slums, in tenements, in our hospices…We have lived with the unemployed, the sick, the unemployables. The contrast between the worker who is organized and has his union, the fellowship of his own trade to give him strength, and those who have no organization and come in to us on a breadline is pitiable.” [2]

Ms. Day could not turn away from these horrible situations, duplicated time and time and time again. Instead, she suggests that people of all levels of society show strength and fortitude, through the most desperate places, happenings, and lack of resources. Why not give downtrodden, down-and-out Americans, a real opportunity? And, enough food, shelter and dignity to hold mind and body together?

Dear Lord, help me to sit with this example of Dorothy Day for a while, and then to act. To do, to listen, to walk with, to accomplish needed and valued gifts and activities. And at last, my Judge will be the King from Matthew 25. I know what my marching orders are. Lord, give me the strength, the willingness, and the love and mercy necessary. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 211.

[2] Ibid, 212.

Pray, Out of the Miry Clay

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 25, 2016


suffering word cloud

Pray, Out of the Miry Clay

I get sad sometimes. Anxious. Depending on what has happened in my life, and how my emotional barometer is reading, I can get depressed. On occasion, to the point of despair. What am I to do? How on earth can I get out of this?

Psalm 40 gives me some positive steps, and words to match. Not only am I advised to wait for the Lord, but I know God will hear me. God will come to my aid. (Sooner or later. And, I know. Sometimes it really seems like “later!”)

Negative emotions can be the pits. (And, sometimes I can feel like I am in the depths of a horrible pit, too.) If I am not careful, negative and depressing feelings can run away with me, just like wild horses can gallop away, too. Horrible. I don’t even want to think about such things. Good thing I know where I can turn—I know God can help.

Let’s turn to God, now. Dear Lord, gracious God, I pray for me, and for my loved ones. Dear God, I pray against anxiety, anger, despair, depression, and hopelessness, in any of our lives. In all of our lives. Restore to me the joy of my salvation. Restore to my loved ones the ideas and thoughts of positivity. Give us the ability to take the sad or angry or fearful situations we are—sadly—so familiar with, and turn to You. Trust in You. Please, dear Lord, hear 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

Isaiah 40, George Frederick Handel, and the Good Shepherd

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jesus the Good Shepherd icon John 10

Isaiah 40, George Frederick Handel, and the Good Shepherd

I love Isaiah 40. I really do. So, when I saw that today’s daily lectionary reading was from that chapter, I rejoiced! What a wonderful set of verses from Isaiah.

This doesn’t always happen to me, but it did tonight as I read verses 9 to 11. As I went through the passage, I immediately, vividly heard arias from “The Messiah” in my head. One of my all-time favorite Baroque oratorios, by George Frederick Handel. I prefer the contralto aria “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion” to the aria “He shall feed His flock.” But, that’s just me. Both lovely pieces of music. From a simply gorgeous oratorio.

But, I’m not here to gush over Handel and “The Messiah.” (Even though I could.) I wanted to talk about how verse 11 struck me as encouraging. Caring. Comforting. Even, maternal. I know that, sometimes, stuff happens. Life happens. Horrible, incredibly sad, terribly frightening things happen. But even though stuff happens, I recognize that God is right there with us, going through it all, at our sides.

It may not seem fair. Sometimes, the last things in the world that comes to mind are fair play, decency, honesty, and even-handedness. It just ain’t happening.

But, God is there, through it all. I suspect shepherds were (maybe still are) used to leading their sheep and lambs through some pretty dangerous stuff. Even simply being—surviving—can strain a person’s resiliency. That’s one reason why God has us humans interrelate: as an encouragement and support to each other.

So, God. I am asking: could You hold me gently in Your arm for a while? I am particularly tired. And discouraged. Thanks for understanding. You’re the best. (Really and truly!)


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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .