Tag Archives: humble

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 13, 2018

man in prayer, silhouette

Prayer, Gift-Giving, Control.

What a punch in the gut! Seriously, Father Nouwen’s words can really pack a punch.

He speaks truth. When you or I give something to someone, whether we want to or not, we often find ourselves in a superior position. Manipulating others, whether we want to or not. Such an eye-opening realization, giving “gifts” to an inferior person.

I certainly do not mean to cast dispersions on all gift-giving. No! Sometimes, gift-giving comes from a sincere love for the other person, a feeling of gratitude, an honest desire to give a loved one something, or some combination of these reasons. However, not always…

Lord, are You talking to me? Is there something that You want me to get through my thick skull? (Sometimes, a two by four to the head is the only way the message from God sinks in…)

Good grief. I have no words. I want to particularly think about these following words from Fr. Nouwen: “When you give, you are master of the situation, you can dole out the goods to those you think deserving. You have control over the surroundings and you can enjoy the power your possessions give you.” [1]

However, if I truly want to be humble, I need to prepare my self and my heart to accept. To receive. “Ultimately, a gift becomes a gift only when it is accepted.” [2] When I finally find myself willing to accept gifts, food, drink, other tangible things, it is then and only then that I have gratitude in my heart. Otherwise, “many people are even embarrassed with a present because they know of no way they can reciprocate. ‘It makes me feel obligated,’ they say.” [3]

Dear Lord, this is a weighty problem, and no mistake. I don’t want to feel obligated. Yet, I know there are some people who joyfully and willingly give gifts! Gracious God, help me to find the graciousness to accept gifts, as well as the wisdom to decide when and where I might willingly and lovingly give gifts. Thanks for Your grace and power, and wisdom from on high. In Jesus’ powerful name we pray, amen.



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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), 29.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 30.

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 5, 2017

Psa 119-5 steadfast ways, bible

A Straight Way in Psalm 119

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s devotional writing is often heartfelt, sometimes earnest. As I make my way through this anthology of briefer devotional writings, I am struck again and again by phrases used in a particularly apt way. Or, some word or phrase Bonhoeffer might mention convicts me—sneaking up on me in an unexpected manner.

It was that way with Bonhoeffer’s commentary on verse 5 of Psalm 119:

Oh, that my ways were made so direct

That I might keep Your statutes!

The first point he addressed was the difference between wishes and prayers. “One proceeds from our need as we ourselves understand it, the other proceeds from our need as God has taught us to see it. The one is desperate and demanding, the other is humble and confident.” [1] Ah, such a difference. Some might imagine it to be subtle. However, the more I think about it, the more I tend to think that needy people who wish for things might just be anxious and fearful, possibly oblivious of others, or angry with life—perhaps even secretly disappointed or angry with themselves.

Ah, but prayer? People who pray? Bonhoeffer contrasts these needy, desperate ones with humble people who request from God in confidence, with (some) patience, and above all, knowing that God’s ways are sure, direct and straight. What a contrast. What conviction sneaks up on my heart, knowing that I am—occasionally—a whiny brat, throwing a tantrum before my Heavenly Father. (Dear Lord, I am sorry. I really, really am. I will try my best to do better. Truly.)

But, wait! Bonhoeffer has more for us in this commentary! “Out of the crooked and twisted a straight way shall emerge, which is not ‘blocked and made crooked by human doctrine’ (Luther). God’s statutes alone remain firm, drawn up by Him for all times.” [2] Here he quotes from Martin Luther. Yes, faulty people can botch things up. Even well-meaning pastors and theologians can goof and get things wrong. If people keep their eyes on God’s Word, and search out God’s ways, then a straight path can emerge. It is not always easy, but it is almost always clearly marked.

Dear God, You so clearly mark the way I am to travel with You. Thank You for Your Word, Your statutes, and Your confidence that You offer so freely. Help me—help us all to receive Your Word with gratitude. 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 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, 107.

[2] Ibid, 108.

God’s Instrument, Alan Paton

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 3, 2017

instrument of Your peace, round

God’s Instrument, Alan Paton

Ah, the breadth and depth of this brief excerpt! I can just imagine how deeply touched Alan Paton was by his stirring experience of the almighty God.

The Rev. Alan Paton was a white South African Anglican clergyman who was also an outspoken opponent of apartheid. He had several spiritual mentors (including Dag Hammarskjöld), but his compassionate heart belonged with St. Francis of Assisi and the familiar prayer attributed to him.

“So majestic is [St. Francis’s] conception that one dare no longer be sorry for oneself. This world ceases to be one’s enemy and becomes the place where one lives and works and serves.” [1] This is preamble, of sorts. This becomes the foundation on which the rest of the excerpt depends. “But in his prayer, [Francis] asks nothing for himself, or perhaps he asks everything, and that is that his whole life, all his gifts, his physical strength, shall be an instrument in God’s hand.” [2]

The example of Moses is brought to our attention. Yes, despite adverse conditions, Moses was chosen as God’s spokesman to Pharaoh. He was also directed to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and around the Sinai region. “The [biblical passage] is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling…. Things might be dark but [believers] are to be the light of the world.” [3]

Yes, the present world may—indeed—be dark. The group at my area cluster meeting sometimes is in tears concerning the situation of our present world.

“To those who have lost their way, let me restore it to them. To those who are aimless, let me bring purpose….let me teach them that they are the children of God and can be used as His instruments in the never-ending work of healing and redemption.” [4] Such a heartfelt, humble prayer! Such a marvelous feeling of joining together in peace and brotherhood. Dear Lord, may it be so, we pray.


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), 191.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 193.

[4] Ibid.

PEACE is Knowing God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 11, 2016


PEACE is Knowing God

Another definition from the North Shore Assembly of God in Skokie. (While there, I discussed the division and animosity becoming so widespread in the public discourse.) I had the joy of hearing from a dear woman. She glowed with a gentle inner peace. I had the opportunity to ask her about her personal definition of PEACE. She gave me that, plus a whole lot more.

Nalini started off telling me that she was not sure what her definition of peace would be. After a little gentle encouragement and a few prompts, she came up with a wonderful definition, followed by an explanation and testimony. Nalini Marati’s personal definition: “PEACE is knowing God. [I can’t explain (in words) the love of God in me.]”

Nalini is a faithful woman of prayer. Deep prayer. Concerted prayer. She was so humble; these things she related to me could come across as boasting or being puffed up. Not Nalini. She told me in her quiet, gentle way, “I have a devotion time every morning. When I pray to God, I have such peace in my heart.”

On top of that, each Friday is a special time of prayer for Nalini. “On Fridays, I set apart time for my Lord, and to meditate on His Word. I talk to Him just like I’m talking to you.” She fasts on Fridays. She drinks only water in the morning and into the afternoon. She gets done with prayer and meditation about mid-afternoon, when she drinks some fruit juice.

Nalini seems to become energized with a quiet, inner energy when she is talking about her prayer time. Her private, personal time with God. The time when she truly feels the peace of God.

I was floored to talk with such a kind, gentle, loving woman of God. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for providing Nalini and her example to me. Thank You for giving us the wisdom and understanding to worship You. To love You. To find the peace that passes human understanding. Thank You, 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