Tag Archives: intentional

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 16, 2017

A Celebration of Life and Breath

Breathe. That’s right, feel your breath flowing in and out of your lungs. Intentional, mindful. Now, breathe more deeply. Slowly. In and out. Be exquisitely aware of each breath in, and each breath out.

You got all that? You—I—we all are celebrating being alive as we become mindful and aware of each breath we take. What a marvelous gift from God.

As I read another short section in the slim book How to Sit, by Thich Nhat Hanh, I came across a significant insight. (Or, if you choose, it’s the most obvious statement.) He says: “If you are breathing mindfully in and out, you already have insight.” [1]

When I sit and meditate, take my time and pray, I have the opportunity to deepen and slow my breathing. I can take the time to relax my muscles, loosen the tension in my neck, shoulders and spine, and become quiet. Restful. Mindful.

Dear God, is this what You want me to do, right now? Rest in You, I mean. Rest, and praise, and be thankful. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 29.

Judgment, No. Compassion, Yes.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, December 6, 2015

BK kindness is an attitude

Judgment, No. Compassion, Yes.

Today’s reading seems—at first glance—to be somewhat disturbing. Why on earth would I want to die to my neighbor? Great question!

Fr. Nouwen explains that the Desert Fathers say that solitude gives birth to compassion because “it makes us die to our neighbor.” [1] In other words, “in order to be of service to others we have to die to them; that is, we have to give up measuring our meaning and value with the yardstick of others.” [2]

This is so profound. Compassion comes through service. And, service is necessarily self-less. Thinking of self less and less, and concentrating on the other more and more. I have a great desire to give service to others. To help, and to be kind to others. I tried to do this, intentionally, each day in the year 2014. (And, I blogged about it, at A Year of Being Kind )

Another way of viewing this is when I judge others and cold-heartedly evaluate and look down on others, I am thinking of myself (and my Self) more and more. If I really want to be with others, to be a companion and a friend to them, I need to hang out with others on a regular basis, and not isolate. Not be all alone.

I really appreciate the Advent Action for today: “A follower of St. Anthony, Abba Moses, gives this instruction: ‘Do not let dislike dominate your heart.’ Make a short list of those whom you dislike, even surreptitiously. Choose one person to expunge from your negative thoughts.”

This is excellent advice. Since I am familiar with the Twelve Steps of Recovery, this action goes hand in glove with a large part of the Recovery program. Dislike is close cousin to resentment. It’s always hurtful and harmful to maintain a resentment and a dislike.

Dear God, help me lose my resentments and dislikes. Please. Help me be more loving, giving and serving to others. So, help me, 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] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 16.

[2] Ibid.

Daily Prayers? Or Everyday Prayers?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 17, 2015

Martha and Mary (Luke 10) by He Qi

Martha and Mary (Luke 10) by He Qi

Daily Prayers? Or Everyday Prayers?

O, God! What intentional prayers these are! And, how ordinary, everyday. Not extra special or out of the ordinary, at all. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Give Us This Day” (Prayer 330, page 102) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Daily.

This prayer has the subscript “Prayer of Chinese Christian women.” I know just a little about the extreme difficulties Chinese Christians have had, over most of the last one hundred years. My dear prayer partner for several years is a naturalized American citizen, born in mainland China. I feel a tenderness and appreciation for many things Chinese, and for the many different cultural, ethnic, sociological and geographic expressions that can be found in that fascinating, vast, multi-varied country.

This prayer contains some everyday activities, and then mentions appropriate, moving words to bring that particular activity into close focus. And, into God’s special care. I’ll mention a few.

“Prayer when washing clothes: I pray Thee, Lord, to wash my heart, making me white as snow.” O, Lord! Such a straight-forward prayer. So honest, forthright. Digging down deep into my chest and grabbing my heart. Lord, indeed. Make me white as snow.

“Prayer when posting a letter: I pray Thee, Lord, to add to me faith upon faith, that I may always have communication with Thee.” Lord, I can tell this was from an earlier time, since letters are not as common as they once were. But, isn’t a clear line of communication a desire that transcends time? Didn’t people in the first century wish to communicate with You clearly? So do the people of the twenty-first century, as well.

“Prayer when watering flowers: I pray Thee, Lord, to send down spiritual rain into my heart, to germinate the good seed there.” Gracious God, how clearly these ladies cry out to You! And not just to You, but for Your spiritual rain to water their dry, thirsty lives. How moving!

“Prayer when boiling water for tea: I pray Thee, Lord, to send down spiritual fire to burn away the coldness of my heart, and that I may always be hot’hearted in serving Thee.” Lord, such a common activity! So, so many people from that area of the world boil water for tea. Such an ordinary thing to do, to take place in this.prayer of everyday things. Yet, my heart is often cold. I do need God’s help in warming it up!

Dear Lord, thank You for these common sense prayers. I could see myself in each one of them. Gracious God, help me to keep my eyes on You. That way, You’ll help me stick with my path. Thank You, God, for Your loving presence with me, all throughout the day. (And night, 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

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 102.

Prayer, When Friends Really Need It

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, August 17, 2015

PRAY hug friends with prayers

Prayer, When Friends Really Need It

Turns out, I have a friend who really, really needs prayer. My friend lives out of state, so I can’t just dash out to have a cup of coffee with this friend whenever I feel like it. No, I need to plan a visit. Take the time and intentionally decide to go see my friend.

Which is no problem! Believe me, I enjoy this friend’s company so much. I enjoy the whole family! But, it makes me sad that I can’t just run across town any time I get a spare moment and have a cuppa or a bite to eat with my dear friend.

As I read these lines at the beginning of the Evening Prayer tonight on the website www.dailyoffice.org – I immediately thought of my friend’s situation. “O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.“

Lord, why won’t You help my friend? Save, make speed, make haste. Why won’t You do any of that? It certainly doesn’t seem like it makes any difference at all. AT ALL.

(Sorry. I shouldn’t have shouted.) But, I feel upset! I feel angry. I feel discouraged. And, I am not even in the middle of that yucky situation.

Let’s pray for my dear friend. And for the yucky, continuing situation.

Dear Lord, gracious God, You know my dear friend. You know the whole situation. You can bring positive things out of all the nonsense that is happening. You can work wonders. I’m asking for that, right now. I am not sure quite what it is that You will do, but I am asking. As Psalm 31 tells me, “deliver me in your righteousness. Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me. Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe.”

Dear God, I pray all of that for my friend, and even more!

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers. Especially my friend’s prayers.


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

Prayer? Service? How About Both, Combined!

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, February 28, 2014

BK have to show love

Prayer? Service? How About Both, Combined!

Did you know that I have another blog? It’s called A Year of Being Kind (also found on wordpress.com). I have been industrious, as far as the other blog is concerned. I’ve been writing posts on it every day since the beginning of January. I mentioned the other blog at the end of December in this space, when I planned to kick off the blog on New Year’s Day 2014. Two months have gone by already. Really, where does the time go?

Does anyone relate to having struggles with prayer? I have been rigorously honest about mine, speaking regularly about struggles in my practice of prayer. Up and down, sometimes more regular, sometimes less. I’ve tried praying with a number of different prayer books, and several different kinds of spiritual discipline practices. But somehow, I just wanted something else, something besides the usual schema of prayer books. To recap what I said at the end of December, I determined to begin a daily practice of acts of intentional service, kindness and love—as in, each and every day. Thus, A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

This is a departure from my usual acts of prayer. Almost like I’m stretching a little-used muscle, repeatedly. It’s not that I don’t do acts of service, because I do! Yes, I have the spiritual gifts of helps, encouragement and mercy, in abundance. But this intentionality is what is new. Different.

I am now two months into this Year of Being Kind. Not surprisingly, I am finding a rhythm in my days. I don’t necessarily go searching for an intentional act of service to do each day. Instead, I find God bringing them to me. Sure, I’ve been open to them, asking, praying for God to show me fresh opportunities to be kind—each and every day. (or night, as the case may be) They have been showing up on my doorstep, by my gym locker, on my phone line, at the grocery store.

Does anyone reading this blog need some spiritual “oomph” in their lives? A helpful boost? Perhaps my Lenten Calendar of Service might help. It’s called 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. You can sign up for it here, at your right. Or, check out Facebook. I have two pages called Matter of Prayer and A Year of Being Kind. You can sign up for the Lenten Calendar of Service there, too. I would love to hear from you!

If you choose to accept this challenge of service, I would like to hear from you! You can expect something blessed and amazing to happen during this Lenten season. As you go through this calendar of service, God can and WILL show up. Bet on it. I’d like to know about it, and I will certainly share those God-incidences on my blog. And if—as I hope—I have too many to write about on my blog, I’ll post them to my Facebook page, too. Remember, God may be calling you to 40 Days & Ways of Service.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for this idea of A Year of Being Kind, for these 365 days of intentional service for You. I pray for all those who are considering 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. I realize You call individuals to separate practices. If they—we choose to celebrate and practice other disciplines, bless us all. Prosper our times of prayer and meditation. Whatever our prayer and spiritual practices, as we prepare for Easter, may Your richest blessings be ours. For us and our loved ones. Amen.


As Long As Ever You Can

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pray Pray Pray 1 Thess

As Long As Ever You Can

I shift from one helpful prayer guide to another. I’m afraid I’m not that constant, as far as sticking with one prayer guide is concerned. However, God sends me amazing things to pray about, no matter which prayer book I happen to be using at the time.

Take yesterday, for example. I used James Howell’s devotional book on prayer. (I know I mentioned it here before.) Rev. Howell is a Methodist elder and a knowledgeable person on the subject of prayer. His discussion on fruitfulness was quite helpful to me, especially since I am trying to find intentional acts of service to do. On a regular basis, of course.

Howell mentioned “inward holiness,” or growing our souls deeper into God. Being fruitful is one way for me to grow deeper into God (his words). Or, in my way of thinking, if I am fruitful, I walk more closely with God. After all, if I feel far away from God, chances are that I moved away. I suspect God is patient and long-suffering. God will stay right in the same place, no matter how long it takes.

I am actively looking for acts of loving, caring service each day in 2014. I pray on a regular basis for God to send acts of service my way. It is amazing how God is answering that prayer. And in odd ways, humorous ways, even amazing ways. (Check out my other blog, A Year of Being Kind. Today’s post: http://wp.me/p4cOf8-2R )

I attended seminary at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, which is a United Methodist seminary. So, I have some understanding of John Wesley and his ideas of personal holiness. Moreover, I know something about the service orientation that is deeply part of many Methodists, and their way of doing and thinking about theology. Some of my best friends at seminary are currently serving UMC churches. Praise God for them and their various ministries.

I would like to close in prayer today with a particular quote of John Wesley. I am taking Wesley’s general rules for living and altering them slightly to turn them into a prayer. I invite you to pray with me. Dear God, help us to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can. In Your mercy, God, hear our prayer.