Tag Archives: life-giving

Prayer, Life-Breath of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 20, 2018

breath of God, mountains

Prayer, Life-Breath of God

Father Nouwen calls the Gospel—the Good News—the life breath of God. Isn’t that it, exactly? If we name the Good News as indispensable for life, how then shall we orient our selves? Our lives? Indeed, our souls?

“The person who prayerfully goes about his life is constantly ready to receive the breath of God, and to let his life be renewed and expanded.” [1] (Fr. Nouwen wrote this several decades ago, when “he/him” was commonly seen to be representative of all humanity.)

If I am receptive and ready to receive God’s life-giving breath, God’s Ruach ha Kodesh, into my life and self and soul, isn’t that the essence of being? Isn’t that what it means to be a child of God? (These are rhetorical questions.) I agree with Henri Nouwen. Then, I can stand upright, stretch out my hands and come out of the corner where I have been hiding and cowering in fear. Then, I am free to boldly stride through the world, because then I can move without fear. [2]

Fear is just what I am preaching on, in my summer sermon series. I am looking at just a few of the hundreds of “Be Not Afraid!” passages in the Bible, and highlighting these each Sunday. But, to return to Nouwen’s idea of God’s breath, it is truly life-giving.

Nouwen describes someone who never prays as someone who has asthma. (Or, from my direct experience as a hospital chaplain, someone with COPD.) So difficult to breathe! As I have had it described to me, life becomes as small as the distance an affected person is from his or her oxygen source, as far as their oxygen tube can take them. What a sad commentary on living and existence.

It is prayer that opens up the world for anyone, even if some do have mobility difficulties and challenges. Prayer becomes that gift from God for which we need not give anything in return. Thank You, dear God, for the remarkable, immeasurable gift of prayer.

@chaplaineliza

(Here is last week’s “Be Not Afraid” sermon: June 17 Sunday Sermon: “Joshua Called Courageous!“ Joshua 1:8-9 @StLukesChurch2 #pastorpreacherprayer )

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), 31.

[2] Ibid.

Life-Giving Spirit? To This Mortal Body?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MISSIONS globe

Life-Giving Spirit? To This Mortal Body?

I really like the Apostle Paul. I have, for several decades. Even though he has complex, even difficult-to-unravel sentences in most of his letters in the New Testament, I still enjoy his deep thoughts and his logical, step-by-step thought-progressions. Except—not so much, now. I mean, I still appreciate his deep thoughts, but they are not exciting me quite as much as they did in the past.

Right now, I find I crave the simplicity of the Apostle John. How he could frame such profound thoughts using such spare vocabulary (especially in his letters) is remarkably stunning. Then, too, I find myself turning to the stark, almost journalist-style of Mark. (“Just the facts, ma’am.”) These two New Testament authors are my current faves (to borrow the vocabulary of my college-age daughter’s acquaintances).

However . . . the liturgical lectionary prayer book has listed a reading from Romans 8 for today. Back to Romans for me, I fear. Away from John, and back to the complex sentence structure of chapter 8, verses 1 through 11.

All right, Lord. I really, earnestly am trying to find what riches You have for me in this passage today. I am drawn to verses 10 and 11. The Holy Spirit as a Life-giver? That resonates with me, deeply. Yes. Today is also Earth Day, a day when a large part of the western world is celebrating the Life-giving nature of our planet. In Genesis 1, the Holy Spirit, the Ruach ha kodesh was hovering over the waters. Breathing life into the world as that Life-giving breath/wind/spirit, so foundational to all created beings.

How much more simple can we get? The Spirit of God long ago moving, hovering over creation. The Spirit of God, breathing life into this mortal, sinful body. These mortal, sinful bodies. Through the power of God Almighty, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, that same power is also giving life to me. To us. Can Paul get any more profound and basic than that? I think not.

I need to pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, all I can say is thank You. Thank You for everything. I fall on my face before Your awesome power and majesty. Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for breathing life into the world, and for breathing life into me. Into us. Thank You. Alleluia. Amen. Praise God.

@chaplaineliza

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 .

Conversation with God

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, August 15, 2014

PRAY most important conversation

Conversation with God

Got prayer?

Levity aside, do you pray? Once in a while, or sometimes, or even daily? I saw a recent survey of “average Americans” that said over 50 percent pray several times a week. As a woman of faith who strives to stay in regular contact with God myself, my initial thought was, “That’s great!”

But—my second thought came quickly on the heels of the first one. Did the people asking questions in that survey define “prayer?” And, how do each of the individuals answering the questions define “prayer?” I can’t answer either of those questions. However, I can tell you how I answer that question.

To me, prayer is often “a conversation with God.” Sure enough, when I pray, I do have conversations with God. Sometimes, I wish they could be conversations like I have with my friends, my family, those I care for and love. Wait a moment—God is all that to me, and more. God knows my deepest thoughts, the dearest desires of my heart. When I’m anxious or afraid, frustrated or downright angry. God can go with me, wherever I go. (“Whither thou goest, there also will I go,” to quote from a poetic, older version of the first chapter in the book of Ruth.)

But sometimes—sometimes God seems distant, even hiding. It’s as if I’m all alone. No one cares. No one is there for me, not even my husband, family, or friends. Not even God. Those are the dark times. The sad times. The times of depression, even despair. Yes, I have gone through times like that. When things are more positive and moving in a good direction, I often don’t want to think back to those dark, dismal times. Those bleak, even heartbreaking situations where I felt like I was in the bottom of a slimy pit with no way out.

Yet—I have come out of those situations. With the help of family, friends, colleagues. With the help of faithful praying companions. And I do have conversations with God. I do not start the conversation. Instead, I pick up the thread of the conversation, midstream. God spoke first. The beginning of my prayer “is in response to who God has been for us, or what God has done, or is making known to us, or causing us to feel.” (“The Word is Very Near You,” p.19, Fr. Martin Smith)

Yes, this is a redefinition of prayer. Yes, God does woo me “back from isolation into belonging and from anxiety into life-giving awareness.” (p. 18, Smith) As 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love, because God first loved us.” Just so, we communicate with God—converse with God, because God communicated and conversed with us, first.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for not demanding prayer. Instead, You graciously give prayer to us. It’s a gift! Thank You so much for this wonderful experience, and an opportunity to talk intimately with You, the God who created the heavens and the earth. It’s just You and me, God, Up close and personal. Intimate. Awesome. Thank You.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net