Tag Archives: Lord in Your mercy

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 21, 2017

piano-hand-sketch

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

I am not the best at practicing. When I was young, my parents had me study piano. I had to practice. Sadly for me, I was not particularly diligent at regular practicing several time a week between lessons. (Otherwise I would have been much better at playing, at a young age.)

I would skip days, forget to sit down at the piano, and the week would slip by. I would often find myself the day before my lesson, not having practiced at all during that week. Frantic, I would do what I could on that one day. I did progress, even though I was not diligent. What’s more, I truly enjoyed playing the piano—and still do.

I was reminded vividly of this experience with piano practice as I read the short section for today. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh talks about sitting in meditation and prayer as a luxury. Imagine that! “In our time, in our civilization, sitting and doing nothing is considered either to be a luxury or a waste of time.” [1]

Yes, it is a practice. We need to practice at it. And as I do, I have found that (usually) prayer and meditation becomes easier. Or, more natural. Or, more a part of me—an integral part. Just like piano practice became easier the more I did it, it is similar with this prayer practice.

Why is it that piano practice is still not the first thing on my mind, even though I intellectually understand the benefits? Probably has something to do with my prayer practice. Even though I also realize that a regular time of prayer and meditation would be marvelous for me and my spiritual life, I am afraid I am less than diligent.

God, You know. We have had this discussion a number of times in the past. Thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for loving me. Help me to be more diligent in practice—in both areas. My piano, and my prayer and meditation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

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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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 68.

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 8, 2017

pray-blocks

Enjoying Prayer and Meditation

When I slow down and get ready for prayer and meditation, I sometimes find myself automatically loosening up my shoulders, taking slow and even deep breaths, settling myself comfortably, or turning my head gradually from side to side. All this is my way of getting ready.

Thich Nhat Hanh has similar advice for his readers: “Set aside a room or a corner or a cushion that you use just for sitting. When you arrive there, you will immediately begin to feel some of the joy and relaxation that comes from sitting.” [1]

Relaxation and calmness are with me, and a part of me, most of the time now when I pray. However, I sometimes still find it difficult to generate the joy that the monk talks about here in this section from the book How to Sit. This is one of my current challenges, I know. (I am working on it.)

Gracious God, this quote reminds me of what joy and happiness can be found in prayer and meditation…Thich Nhat Hanh shows it so clearly. I know I ought to strive for that same joy. But—I feel the challenge. I realize this is difficult for me. Heck, I really am excited about feeling relaxed and calm most times, when I pray! (Much less feeling joy. One step at a time. That is what I keep telling myself.) Dear God, help me to persevere. And, thanks for the wonderful, unexplored world of prayer. I know I’ve just gotten started, in prayer. 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

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 53.

Pray Like a Show-off.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 24, 2017

luke-18-pharisee-and-tax-collector

Pray Like a Show-off.

There are many, many books on prayer and meditation, from any number of faith traditions and religious orientations, both modern and ancient. I very much appreciate this little volume by the teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. I have read a fair amount of books by Christian writers on prayer and meditation, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Thus, the little book by the Buddhist teacher, featuring prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and how to sit (in meditation and prayer).

As I read the short portion for today, I was vividly reminded of a section from one of the Gospels. First, from How to Sit: “There are some people who sit in a very funny way; they try to show that they are practicing sitting meditation.” [1] This reminded me so strongly of Matthew 6, verse 5, where Jesus tells those listening, “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

What a show-offy thing to do! Whether it is sitting meditation, out in the open where everyone could see, or praying loudly on the street corners, where everyone could (likewise) see, this person’s inside attitude of the heart is not quite on target.

What could I do, to avoid such a predicament? The first thing I can do is to get my inside attitude oriented toward God (or, Ha Shem, or the Higher Power). If my inside orientation is straight, my outward expression and practice has a much better chance to be oriented in a God-ward manner.

The second thing I need to focus on is my relationship toward God. I suspect this (imaginary) person’s eyes were on other people, in both the case of Thich Nhat Hahn’s example as well as that in the Gospel of Matthew. That person’s number one priority was the horizontal relationship, with other people. I think Jesus would say—every time—that our number one relationship needs to be with God. The vertical relationship is primary. God comes first. Then, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for the excellent lesson, dear God. Now, comes the hard part: putting it into practice. Help me, Lord. Help me both practice prayer and meditation more regularly, as well as keep my relationship with You number one in my life. 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

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 37.

Pray, Grieve, Attend a Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 21, 2016

nourish-and-support

Pray, Grieve, Attend a Service

What happens when something—someone—gets caught up in mourning? Grieving?

Christmas is almost here. But, before Christmas comes, we made a visit across state borders. An elderly relative died recently, and we were paying our respects.

So incredibly sad. I have a few photos taken at the funeral and afterwards, but otherwise, there’s not much more than memories.

Grief. Sorrow. If we tiptoe into the hushed presence of a Christmas program for our well-beloved one . Mourn,  pray, grieve.

@chaplaineliza

 

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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

Praying for Encouragement and Support

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 8, 2016

comfort-encourage-peace

Praying for Encouragement and Support

Feeling low? Dispirited? Needing support? Yeah, me, too.

What’s more, I feel disconnected, like I need someone to come alongside of me and sit with me for a while. That is the closest I can come to describing my feelings right now. It’s a sad and lonely sort of a feeling.

Yet, I have a job. I need to do stuff, every day. I have worship services to prepare, bible studies to work on and conduct, church business to administer, meetings to attend. Not to mention phone calls and personal calls to make. On top of everything else, I have all of this other stuff under the surface of my life. It is a complicated thing right now.

Gentle waiting for an elderly loved one to die can be difficult, indeed.

Dear Lord, gracious God, please encourage my loved ones right now, especially that elderly one who is approaching the end of life. We pray that the end might come gently, and that this loved one does not die alone. Dear Holy Comforter, come alongside of all those who grieve, even now. Provide Your comfort and joy, in the midst of weeping and mourning. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers. In your loving and healing name we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

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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

Gentle Prayers of Comfort and Support

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, December 6, 2016

god-wrap-your-arms-around-all-those

Gentle Prayers of Comfort and Support

An elderly loved one is coming to the ending of life. So sad. Yet, it has been a long, full and fruitful life. A life well-lived.

I have been at many hospital and care center bedsides, professionally, as a chaplain. Many end-of-life situations, some sudden (like, from a massive heart attack), and others—not so sudden. Some more painful, and a few even excruciating for me to watch. Each one is unique.

When I know the person involved, or know the loved one sitting by the bed, that changes things. Makes it different. (I probably could come up with some words to describe this difference, but I am feeling my own personal feelings right now. I am not very fluid with the words at this time.) Regardless, whether I know the person, or loved one, or not, it is still a difficult situation. Painful, and sorrowful, to say the least.

Sometimes there are complicated emotions tied up in various relationships (for example, with the person dying, or with loved ones, or with some others who have died—or even with all three). This heightens the difficulty, the emotions: the fear, anger, anxiety, dread, and overwhelming grief. Or, sometimes, flattens out the emotional response.

Right now, I have the option to retreat into my professional demeanor, as a chaplain and pastoral caregiver. Or, I can do the human thing, and feel. I think I will feel my feelings right now.

Dear healing Savior, I pray that You come alongside of all who mourn and grieve this night. I pray for my relatives and loved ones who are near and far away. I ask you to come alongside of this beloved one, nearing the end of life. I pray that You may be preparing a place at Your heavenly banquet table, even now. I know You and Your angels will welcome this loved one home. Thank You for loving us, even when we can’t say the words, ourselves. Thank You for caring for us, even when we go astray or wander in a far country. And, thank You for welcoming this dear one home to You, after a long journey here in this world. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.r

@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

No Time for Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 25, 2016

 

confession-forgiveness-contrition

No Time for Prayer

Shh. I have a confession to make.

I am not consistent with spiritual disciplines.

Yes, I know I am writing this blog about prayer. And, I love prayer. I receive such comfort through praying, and delight in the sometime-closeness to the Holy I feel. That is, sometimes. And, then, sometimes there is nothing. A dryness, or drought. I feel dull, or perhaps dim.

I am afraid to say that I often go in cycles. Cycling in and out of intimacy with God. (God, You know I do. You and I have had this continuing conversation for years. For decades.)

Today, I did pray a bit. In between running around. Oh, I went to a breakfast and lecture, ran to the gym, prepared some paperwork, worked on the computer (a lot), and got ready to take a trip. But, why is it that I feel as if I ought to be a person like Martin Luther, who was so busy he had to take an extra hour to pray?

However, I try to pray when I can. I have asked God to nudge me and remind me when I am to pray. Usually, it works out fairly well. But, still. Not consistently.

God, I am sorry. I feel my lack of prayerfulness. Forgive my hesitation, my forgetfulness, my busy-ness. Help me to attend to Your will and Your ways more diligently. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my hesitant, bashful 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