Tag Archives: Jesus

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 23, 2019

Mark 4 Hitda-Codex-Christ-and-Apostles-on-the-Sea-of-Galilee-c.-1025-50-CE

Prayer: Vibrant Experience

Another person recounted his experience with prayer. Father Gallagher mentions how M. had begun his journey with Christianity eight years before the writing of this book. Except—M. very much wanted to experience God. His prayers were unsatisfying, as was his reading of Scripture. Then, he was invited into a prayer group, where they read the account of Jesus and His disciples in the boat during a storm on the sea of Galilee.

By his own account, M. had an experience that turned his relationship with Scripture, prayer, and with Jesus Himself upside down.

“It opened a new world for me…That evening, the Scripture came alive. I’d been passive, outside of it. It had just been a story. When I prayed in this way, I no longer felt like I was outside the story; I was in the story….but not so bound by it that I couldn’t ask something of Jesus or of Peter. And I realized that Jesus was not as far away as I thought. I found myself marveling at how near he was to me.” [1]

What a drastic change for M.’s Scripture reading and prayer life! How vital and vibrant his relationship with Jesus became.

I go through cycles with God. At times, I feel this deep, intense relationship with God—but not often. It is almost as if I am chasing this kind of experience, sometimes. I know I ought to be faithful, and continue to pray. And, I do. But, sometimes….

Yes, I have stories similar to M.’s account. I could tell of wonderful times of prayer. Mountain top prayers, I guess they are called. But, they are far and few between. I need to remind myself that I need to be faithful. That is what God wants from me—from us. Our faithfulness.

Dear God, forgive me for my lack of faith, and my hesitancy at consistent prayer. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Lead me to Yourself. In Jesus’s name I ask, 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 23.

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 16, 2019

rain on window, tree

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Father Gallagher did not shy away from presenting strong, deep emotions in this book. In the very first chapter, the very first personal story he brings to us relate some of these gut-wrenching emotions.

We hear more from K., a woman who suffered from a stroke some years ago. She had entered into a regular practice of Ignatian prayer and meditation. While on a retreat, she felt drawn to the passion and death of Jesus. She sat with that image, in that space, for hours. She was filled with compassion and terror as she tried to comfort Jesus in His passion. “She desires ‘to tell Him I was there for Him and that I would not leave Him alone.’ K. draws close to Jesus as she prays.” [1]

Her retreat director gently pointed out perhaps God was bringing together the experience of Jesus during His passion and death and her own, as she had experienced years before in her stroke and the long-term recovery from it.

K. then relates her return to prayer, and “scenes of my hospital stay after my stroke so many years before alternated with scenes of Jesus’ passion and death….I cried inconsolably for hours—seventeen years’ worth of tears. God was truly embracing me tightly and saying, ‘Do not be afraid even of this. I am holding you tightly and nothing can hurt you.’” [2]

How intense is this? In this time of prayer, K. allowed God to touch her deeply, in such a significant hurting place. Ever since her stroke, she had placed a certain internal part of herself at a distance from God. For years, even though she had a regular practice of prayer and meditation, K. had erected an internal barrier for protection.

I am so struck by this. What internal barriers have I erected? What messages of God do I ignore? Or, drown out? I can do this in so many ways. Work, relationships, activities, even busy-ness. Any or all of these can be distractions or excuses for allowing God into my life. Forgive me, dear Lord. Help me to desire You, to listen for Your voice and read Your Word. Thank You for loving me, and for drawing me close to You—even when I hold myself at a distance and erect barriers between You and me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 20.

[2] Ibid, 21.

World of Imagination in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 17, 2019

ignatian prayer word cloud

World of Imagination in Prayer

I love to imagine things. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had an extremely active imagination. (Some might say an overactive imagination.) Perhaps that is why I love using Ignatian prayer. Using my senses and using my brain together in prayer seem to be a marvelous combination. Maybe not for everyone, but it is so for me.

As I get down to praying (in the Ignatian way), “the clarity that emerges is invaluable. It allows a solidly grounded use of these methods, with flexibility, as the Spirit draws us individually.” [1] Whether I imagine the heat and dust of an outdoor market where Jesus and His disciples are traveling, or whether the crowd presses against me as I wait and watch Jesus passing by, it does not matter. I may read the Psalms and be transported into the sadness and fear of the psalmist, and sometimes not be able to quickly separate myself from that experience.

Yes, I can readily intellectualize my Bible reading, to the point where the Bible becomes sterile and stuffy. However, I am saved from over-intellectualizing. Ignatian prayer saves me from that, and allows me to immerse myself (and my imagination) in the Bible reading of the day.

St. Ignatius loved to make use of the Gospels in Ignatian prayer—active, imaginative participation in these Biblical events. “Direct contact with his words opens for us the full richness and endless freshness of this teaching.” [2]

It has been about ten or eleven years since I made my way through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The richness of that experience only whetted my appetite all the more for Ignatian prayer. I am so looking forward to this how-to book on prayer. I hope and pray I can help a few others, in these brief articles.

Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.
@chaplaineliza

 

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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 10.

[2] Ibid, 11.

Hands Open Towards Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 2, 2018

my heart saying a prayer

Hands Open Towards Prayer

It’s amazing how a turn of phrase can spark the imagination.

In this brief reading today, Father Nouwen refers to the passage from John 21, where Jesus tells Peter that he is now a person of volition, going where he would, but when Peter grows old, he will not be able to have the same volition. Moreover, people would take Peter where he did not want to go.

All of this is in the context of volition. Having one’s hands open. Even, having one’s heart open. As Father Nouwen talks about having one’s hands open towards prayer, he mentions care for others. “Care for others means a growing acceptance. This acceptance led Jesus and his disciples to where they didn’t want to go, to the cross. That is also the road for one who prays.” [1]

I hope I have acceptance in my heart. I hope I show that acceptance in my prayers. I realize where I do not have acceptance, and I ask God to forgive me for that non-acceptance, that insecurity, that dislike—even bordering on downright fear.

When I have my arms (and hands) stretched out in prayer, I strive to be welcoming in prayer. Dear Lord, it can be a challenge! However, as Father Nouwen rightly brings out, this acceptance and welcome I offer in prayer opens me deep within to the freedom that God truly offers. The freedom of God’s breath (which I referred to before, several posts ago – see Prayer, Life-Breath of God #matterofprayer  https://wp.me/p43g3i-12T ), and the freedom of the cross.

Dear God, please give me the courage to be prayerful. Please give me the acceptance to stretch out my hands in prayer. Forgive me for my insecurity my dislike, and especially my deep-seated fears. Help me to follow after You all the days of my life, especially in Your Son’s example of prayer. Amen.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 35.

@chaplaineliza

 

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

Bring Prayer into My Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 14, 2018

hands folded in prayer

Bring Prayer into My Life

Going back to the original reason for this blog, I want to pray on a more regular basis. Yes, I realize this is a never-ending odyssey for me, in my spiritual life. Yes, God and I have had many conversations about this lack or deficit, for decades. And, I am going to try again. (Somehow, that quote from Yoda in the original Star Wars movie, “A New Hope,” comes to mind. “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” )

Dear Lord, taking a snippet from popular culture—and from Yoda (whom I love), I want to do. Not try, but do.

Over the next little while, I am going to read one of Henri Nouwen’s marvelous books called With Open Hands. In this slim volume, he examines his own personal experience with prayer. And as he says, “…could it be that what is most personal for me, what rings true to the depths of my being, also has meaning for others?” [1]

This book is distilled down from a number of conversations with twenty-five theology students. Father Nouwen and the students variously prayed, conversed, and contributed. As Fr. Nouwen says, this book “took form during many hours of intimate conversation, which could possibly be called hours of praying.” [2]

I already know Nouwen’s work. I have read (at various times) five other books he wrote. I am very much looking forward to this one. I know how faithful Nouwen was to his spiritual disciplines, and I pray I can be half as faithful.

Dear Lord, as I embark with Father Nouwen on this journey of prayer, I want to pray regularly. I want to get closer to You. Help me remain consistent. Knowing that Jesus is right by my side every day, I pray all of these things. Amen,

@chaplaineliza

 

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), vii.

[2] Ibid, viii.

Study and George MacDonald

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 14, 2017

bible, study

Study and George MacDonald

In the feeding of the 4000, Jesus did a big miracle. The miracle was multi-faceted. In this reading from our book today, George MacDonald not only explains the miracle but also unpacks the surrounding verses.

Sometimes I feel like the disciples. What part of Jesus’s words and actions do I not understand? (I know. A big part.)

A chunk of MacDonald’s commentary on this passage particularly struck me: the section where Jesus and the disciples talk about leaven. Yet again, the disciples do not understand. As MacDonald suggests to his readers, Jesus wanted them—and us—to learn from the experience. So many instances can be found in those teachings, as well as the actions of Jesus. A huge object lesson, if we consider it that way, and MacDonald lifts it up for us to learn.

Let’s set the stage. In the aftermath of the huge extravaganza of the day (for that was what the miracle of feeding had quickly become), Jesus and His disciples withdraw to a boat. In other words, they have a getaway car ready and waiting.

Jesus warns about “the leaven of the Pharisees.” His disciples have only a foggy idea of what He might be referring to. Their thinking is primarily concerned with their stomachs and what could possibly concern their day-to-day living.  (Oh, Jesus must be talking about how we didn’t bring any bread out to the boat for this trip.) Yet—are we any better? Do I have the same weaknesses of faith as the disciples?

Penetrating questions, and some particularly thought-provoking ones in MacDonald’s teaching on the feeding, too. Dear Lord, help me to glean information from George MacDonald, too. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

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.

William Law’s View of Fasting

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 13, 2017

fasting, prayer, mountains

William Law’s View of Fasting

In the past, I loved classic religious and theological books. I read many of them in my teens, 20’s and 30’s. As soon as I picked up that book in my early 20’s, I found I loved A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. I’ve read it through completely three times, and dipped into it several more, for partial reads.

So, when I read William Law’s name next in the chapter list of this current book, I got legitimately excited.

Law’s view of Matthew 6 fascinates me. His take on it is so practical. (Just as is much of his writing.) “Therefore the privacy of fasting does not suppose such a privacy as excludes everybody from knowing it, but such a privacy as does not seek to be known abroad.” [1] Law compares Jesus’s words concerning fasting to the situation with Cornelius in Acts 10. The centurion’s fasting was well known within his family. By Cornelius’s devout example, “his household were made devout themselves by continually waiting upon him, that is, by seeing and partaking of his good works.” [2]

Law considered legalistic devotion to the secret strictures of fasting a clear violation of the spirit of the words of Jesus. He understood that many people in his time had that absurd attitude, and he wanted his teaching to be crystal clear. As Richard Foster said, “by using Cornelius as his illustration Law gently causes readers—you and me—to examine their own legalisms by considering whom they might find unacceptable to God.” [3]

God willing, I can take Law’s (and Foster’s) words to heart. Please, Lord, help me follow these excellent interpreters of Your words.

@chaplaineliza

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), 74.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 76.