Tag Archives: image

Prayers, Interpreted by The Cloud

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 7, 2017

cloud of unknowing, quote

Prayers, Interpreted by The Cloud

I have read a number of books on prayer, and I even have The Cloud of Unknowing on my bookshelf. Alas, I have not gotten around to it yet. That book is still on my list of books that I plan on reading. Someday.

Perhaps I will move this book up on the long list. It is certainly intriguing, from the little bits I have just read.

I especially focused on “How and Why Their Short Prayer Pierces Heaven.” Forceful, indeed. Here is a sample: “The eternity of God is his length; his love irs his breadth; his power is his height, and his wisdom is his depth. No wonder, then, that the soul which is so nearly conformed by grace to the image and likeness of God his maker is immediately heard by God.” [1]

Our author waxes eloquent about the Apostle Paul, and how he describes with great economy the practice of prayer. “As Saint Paul teaches; not fully, but in some way and to some degree, as is proper to this work.” [2]

Somehow, I have lost the elegance of certain types of prayer, over time. I would rather pray in plainspoken, straightforward language, rather than in fancy, ornate words, like spun glass or with delicate silks and threads. Even when urging the reader to confess sins, the author still comes across in a winsome, pleasing way.

Dear Lord, let my heart—all of our hearts—be softened and even tenderized by Your gracious hand. Come alongside of us, just as the author of The Cloud persistently watches and gives us pointers and encourages those who are trying with all their heart to pray. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 45.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer: Advent Time, or Anytime

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 2, 2015

cardinal tree

Prayer: Advent Time, or Anytime

Some people are visual people. Visual learners, and visual in communication, too. I tend to have a good bit of that visual sense in my makeup.

Fr. Nouwen spoke about the liturgical gospel reading of the day. Each day. He encouraged his readers to spend ten minutes with the gospel text in prayer. As I read the paragraph from Fr. Nouwen in today’s Advent reading, I was immediately aware of two mental images. Popped right into my head.

First, his mention that the gospel text can become “a painting on the walls of your inner room, the inner room that is your heart.” [1] This brought a sudden, crisp image to me. I saw my innards, my inside-person. I actually saw my chest open and deep within me was a small, inner room. My heart-room. I was sitting there in a chair, praying—meditating—reading the Gospel.

Second, Nouwen’s mention of what prayer is: “That’s prayer—to let God’s Word speak deep within you and tell you, ‘You are my beloved.’” [2] Now, this was not so much visual, as aural. (And kind of mixed with visual, but more shadowy, vague and misty, like it was fog on a Hollywood sound stage.)

(This is an aside. An editorial comment, perhaps. I know that God is way more than just a man or just male, but to me, God has a baritone voice. God may also have other voices. But in those rare times when I actually hear from God, it has been in in a baritone voice.)

What a comfort. What an encouragement. To have my God tell me “You are my beloved”—such an amazing thought. So personal, and so individual. God wants me to know this now, at Advent. And, I think God wants me to know this each and every day of the year, too.


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

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 8.

[2] Ibid.

Cracked Pots and Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tea bowl fixed  in the Kintsugi method

Tea bowl fixed
in the Kintsugi method

Cracked Pots and Prayer

Ever feel fragile? The pressure, difficulty or challenge coming down on you is too much? Like you were going to crack, or break? Sometimes I feel fragile. Yes, I freely admit it.

The Bible talks about earthen vessels, in several places. 2 Corinthians 4:7 speaks of common clay pots, in the Good News Translation. Clay pots and other earthenware are pretty easy to break. It’s a common, everyday sort of serving and eating utensil. What is also common is a well-known fact: clay pots and earthenware sometimes break.

I know very well that I’m imperfect. Sometimes I think I can’t serve God efficiently enough. Or communicate well enough. Or teach effectively enough. The good news for me, right now, is that God can use me—even when I am broken. Or imperfect. Or even fragile and ready to crack.

A fascinating way of repairing cracked pottery and other dishes comes from Japan, called Kintsugi. I was stunned to find out that the Japanese mix resin with powdered gold or silver, and then the broken pieces of pottery are attached or repaired. This precious metal mixture repairs the break. Moreover, there is no attempt made to hide either the cracks or the repairs. The precious metal becomes an intrinsic part of the repaired, renewed pottery.

What an image—what a hopeful turn of events for me. So, God can use me, even when I am broken. And God can take those breaks, those fault lines, those cracks, and repair them with God’s own precious metal mixture—God’s own grace and mercy. Leaving me ready to serve, to pray, to be kind to others. Praise the Lord.

Let’s pray and thank God! Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for this wonderful image of Kintsugi. Thank You for Your goodness and grace extended to me, and to many others, even when we feel fragile. Even when we know we are imperfect and broken. Help us to serve You in spirit and in truth, knowing that we carry Your treasure within us, shining out like those precious metal repairs of Kintsugi. Thank You, so much. We pray in Your precious name, Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Like a Refiner’s Fire

refiner's fire

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 23, 2013

Like a Refiner’s Fire

It’s almost Christmas Eve. I want to scoot ahead to the time of the Christmas celebration, but we aren’t there yet.

Today, in my Advent reflection, I read Malachi 3:1-3. I was especially struck by the words “For he is like a refiner’s fire . . . and he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver.” Yes, I am still waiting, as the practice of Advent encourages me to do. I am watching and waiting for the messenger of the covenant to prepare the way before me, true. But I’m afraid of that other image, too.

I understand the image of the refiner’s fire in principle. But I do not like going through the fire. It’s the being-refined-part that I object to. It hurts! Ow! What gives, God?
I’ve been there, especially in the past number of months with my employment situation. (or difficulty with, or total lack thereof) I understand that I am supposed to reflect God. I’ve heard the analogy of a silversmith melting silver in his shop. He knew that the molten silver had all the impurities taken away when he could see his face in the silver. Gee, silver must really get hot for that to happen! I guess that‘s similar to my situation(s). I earnestly am trying to be faithful, and to follow. Even when the situation’s too hot to handle.

Help me wait for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. Soon! Very soon!

Let’s pray. God, I try to follow You. I know You are there by my side, and Your purposes are good and gracious. I know You want me to be faithful, too. Even when I forget You’re there, or get angry because things aren’t going my way, or just get sick and tired of waiting for You. God, forgive me. Help me to continue to wait. Be with me when things get too hot to handle. Protect me when I’m being tried by fire. God, thanks for Your constant presence through every situation, even in this almost-Christmas, still-waiting time. Amen.