Tag Archives: loving

Pray in Hope, Hope in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, August 21, 2018

hope - light, dark night

Pray in Hope, Hope in Prayer

I can see how some cynical people might scoff at Father Nouwen’s words here. Sure, “hoping” might be overrated. “Hoping” has little to do with the mundane day-to-day experience. “Hope” is for naïve people, or worse, for suckers.

Such a dreary, pessimistic way to approach life! I have met a couple of people who had this kind of attitude and way of thinking about life. I would not trade places with them for anything.

Father Nouwen tells about the trusting relationship of little children with their loving mother. “All day long they ask for things, but the love they have for their mother does not depend on her fulfilling all their wishes.” [1] In this simple, straight-forward description of the mother/child relationship, Fr. Nouwen hits the theological and relational nail on the head. Our relationship with God our heavenly Parent does NOT depend on whether God gives us everything we ask, or grants us each request (no matter how ridiculous or outrageous those requests may be).

It reminded me of a long-ago memory. One of my children (in preschool then, now in her 30’s) dearly wanted a pony. She had a plan, had thought about it a great deal, and came to me and her father with this plan. The pony could live in the storage space in the basement, and would not take up much room at all. She would go down and feed the pony, too.

At the time, we lived in a smaller vintage apartment building in Chicago. I realized what the landlady would say if my daughter brought this up to her, much less the animal control department of the City of Chicago. However, I could not tell all this to my preschooler. I needed to let her know that it was not possible, of course.

But—she really, really, REALLY wanted that pony. She hoped against hope that she would get a pony for Christmas.

How many times do I want a pony, too? How often do I come to God with a sincere, deep-seated request oh, so similar to my dear daughter’s Christmas wish? Yet, a little child still loves their mom or dad dearly, even though their parents know that the requested thing (or wish or experience) would be negative or not at all good for their dear child. In the same way, our loving, caring God sovereignly knows what would help each of us.

Yes, I can hope. Prayer is hope. Hoping is prayer. “All those concrete requests are ways of expressing [my] unlimited trust in God who fulfills all promises, who holds out for [me] nothing but good, and who wants to share goodness and love with [me and] you.” [2]

Thank You, dear God, for wanting to share goodness, love, and caring with me.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 74.

[2] Ibid.

@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

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 20, 2017

worship cursive

Worship with Evelyn Underhill

When I read about Evelyn Underhill, I get overwhelmed. I feel very small, indeed. She was such a talented academic, knowledgeable in the nature and forms of Christian worship. But, even more so, she had great understanding in the practical-theology end of worship and spiritual formation. (I can’t even begin to compare myself to her…)

Miss Underhill wrote classic texts on worship and mysticism. The provided excerpts on several aspects of worship are soul-stirring, indeed.

“…we are called to worship because this is the only safe, humble and creaturely way in which men can be led to acknowledge and receive the influence of an objective Reality.” [1] This deep action of the soul, as she calls it, has been found to be a reality in many people’s lives, worldwide. The impetus to worship transcends racial lines, cultural differences, differing climates and places of gathering.

“Worship, then, is an avenue which leads the creature out from his inveterate self-occupation to a knowledge of God, and ultimately to that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” [2] If I read Ms. Underhill’s writing correctly, she says that worship is a means of getting me out of my own head and focused away from self-occupation. I need to have something outward to direct my attention and understanding towards… If I can stop focusing on me, myself and I, that can only be beneficial.

The second part of the above statement: “that union with God which is the beatitude of the soul.” How high and lofty a statement this is. When I think of worship, I do not often concentrate on such ineffable thoughts. True. (Guilty as charged.) However, just because I rarely think of such thoughts does not make them false. Ah, “the beatitude of the soul.” I just taught a bible study sequence on the Beatitudes, so I do understand them a bit better than I did before. I understand this quote a bit better, too.

Miss Underhill, I wish I could get closer to the true heart of worship. Thank You for Your great writing and example. Dear God, gracious God, thank You for loving us far more than we deserve and caring for us even when we run away.

@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] [1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 254.

[2] Ibid.

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 14, 2017

grace and mercy crssing

Miss Sayers, Law, and Grace

Dorothy L. Sayers is one of my favorite authors—hands down. I found her mystery books when I was a teen, and saw the BBC adaptations shortly after. Marvelous characters, witty dialogue, and impeccable writing. (And, that was just her mystery novels.) However, she was much, much more than “only” a mystery writer. A medieval scholar, essayist and literary critic, she was well able to accomplish any literary task that came to hand—with brilliance. Daughter of an Anglican clergyman, she dove into the study of theology.

This excerpt comes from her theological essay called “Creed or Chaos.” Here Miss Sayers discusses societal sinfulness. She understands her own sinfulness well.

“…An intelligent understanding about sin is necessary to preserve the world from putting an unjustified confidence in the efficacy of the moral law taken by itself.” [1] Miss Sayers is quite firm: as she said, law is “always prohibitive, negative, and corrupted by the interior contradictions of man’s divided nature.” [2] She has a decided view of humanity as sinful and depraved.

Looking at myself, for instance. I also have a decided view of my depraved human nature, in my sinful self/Self. I realize that moral law AND God’s law both would condemn me to an eternity separated from God.

Yet, there is grace. Miss Sayers is equally firm about God’s grace. “The law must be rightly understood, or it is not possible to make the world understand the meaning of grace.” [3] Grace. Amazing grace. (As I also think, mercy plays a large role in this drama, too. Otherwise, there is little reason to keep on keeping on.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, what a marvelous reading for a Good Friday night. When I was already considering my sinfulness tonight, discovering Miss Sayers’s article was a gracious, helpful and loving thing. Thank You for her deep insight. Thank You for Your grace and mercy.

@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), 236.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

In Prayer, In Parenthood

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 21, 2016

ABBA abba father papa

In Prayer, In Parenthood

I considered parenthood tonight. Partly because of something I read, and partly because of something I watched on television this evening.

Parenthood is such a multi-faceted thing. I know I’ve been a parent for several decades. (Truly.) I know my shortcomings all too well. I suspect I’ve been a good parent, by and large. My children and I have never had this sort of discussion before. Good parent? Bad parent? Indifferent parent? I don’t think I’ve ever asked.

However, I can pray that I will continue to be a good mom, and pray for my children. I pray for several friends, too. I ask for them to be kind, considerate, and warm. In fact, there is no time like the present.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your excellent work at being a Parent. A loving, engaged, caring Parent. I pray for all those who are reading this, who have had less than loving parents. God, help those of us with children still under our care to be patient, loving, and encouraging in the care of those children. Pour out an extra helping of mercy, wisdom and Godly judgment on each one who is a parent, or acting as one. Lord, help explain each mistake. Lord, provide for our shortcomings, and bring others into our lives who will make up for whatever we need assistance with. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear us. Amen.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Community? In the Midst of Imperfections.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, December 20, 2015

church gathering - meant to be a church choir

Community? In the Midst of Imperfections.

I serve as a pastor. Yet, I feel especially called by God to be a pastoral care giver. To come alongside of people, and walk with them for a bit. Through problems, trials, and difficulties.

Especially at this holiday time of the year, I hear about the difficulties people have with family members. Sometimes, whole sections of families. And often, these people are having fear and anxiety over family gatherings. Supposedly festive times, but somehow morphed into awful, judgmental, anxiety-ridden occasions.

I seldom can do anything for people other than listen. If they ask, I do have several simple things to suggest. For example, limit the time spent with these difficult family members. Yes, show up, if necessary, but often you can choose how long you spend in their company. Be selective when accepting holiday invitations. You do not need to attend every party or dinner or function. And, most important, try to have your own transportation when possible. If the family members are becoming unbearable, you can excuse yourself. It is all right. Do what you need to do.

In my Advent meditation for today, Henri Nouwen brings up Parker Palmer and his writings on community. I know that many people think that “community” and “family” are places where we are all feeling warm and fuzzy feelings about each other. And in the best of all possible worlds, that kind of community and family would be marvelous. A portion of people even get to experience that warm, genial, loving kind of community and family, on a regular basis. But, many people do not.

Nouwen says that Palmer says: “community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives….Community is in fact the place where you are purified, where your love is tested, where your childhood of God is constantly put through the mill of human relationships.” [1]

I know I have idiosyncracies that can drive other people up the wall. Just as much as others’ habits and manners and ways of doing things can drive me wild, too. God, help me not to bug other people. Help me to be careful not to be too annoying. Help me to do my part. And, I have faith that You will take care of the rest.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 44.

Listening to My Higher Power

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 23, 2015

prayer to God as I understand God

Listening to My Higher Power

I used to be a people-pleaser. I would do my best to be everything or make myself into whatever people wanted or needed. I would run, do, speak, or not speak. Almost always at half my acquaintances’ beck and call. When I was a teen and in my twenties and thirties, my poor sense of self-esteem kept me going overtime. (And then some.)

I gradually learned how to navigate my way through the awkward conversations, extra-long telephone calls, home visits and play dates. (Fearful of running afoul of the modern-day Pharisees, though.)

As my reading today from Keep It Simple tells me, trying to be a people-pleaser will get me exactly nowhere. Nowhere except hurt or angry, and feeling taken advantage of.

How on earth am I to stay centered and focused? Ah, ha! My reading gives me two good ways: by listening to my internal voice (“To Thine Own Self Be True”), and listening for my Higher Power’s voice. I do have wisdom inside of me. I have dreams and aspirations. I am worthwhile. What’s more, I also have God as I understand God. My Higher Power has my back. My Higher Power will never leave me nor forsake me.

So, I thank God that I no longer am a people-pleaser. (Well, hardly ever, that is.)

Let’s pray, using the prayer for today from the reading. “I pray that I’ll listen to that gentle, loving voice inside me. Higher Power, help me make my ‘conscious contact’ with You better.” [1]

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 23 reading.

In Wonder at the Bishop’s Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 6, 2015

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

In Wonder at the Bishop’s Prayer

I love the written word. I love reading books and writings written centuries ago. Alas, I’m afraid I am less than learned, since I only know English (and modern English, at that). Thankfully for me, many of the books, texts and other writings from centuries long ago have been translated into modern English.

Why did this come up? Today’s prayer is about Blessing and Thanksgiving. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns ““Hallowed be Thy Name” (Prayer 172, page 64) [1] And, this selection is one of the oldest I’ve come across yet. It’s from the Christian prayer “Bishop Serapion’s Prayer of Oblation,” dated from the 4th century.

I could talk about the background I found out concerning this bishop of Thmuis in lower Egypt, how he was a friend of St. Athanasius, and how he wrote (or, edited) a Prayer Book, or Sacramentarium. (All of which I found fascinating!) However—I want to dive straight into the prayer of Oblation.

Dear “Father of Jesus Christ,” how awe-inspiring to refer to You as “uncreated, unsearchable, ineffable.” These words make me want to hide my face the way Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. (Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts.)

Dear Lord Jesus, “Only Son,” you “proclaim and explain” Your Heavenly Father to us “created beings.”

Oh, yes. I know that I am only Your creation; I know that full well! And, what is the most earth-shaking thing of all? You “seek reconciliation with all men and draw them all to You by sending Your dear Son to visit them.”

Good God. How on earth am I ever to respond to such a gracious and merciful act? Such a loving and generous gift? Dear Lord, You sent Your dear Son to earth—to us—to visit us. Why? To “seek reconciliation.” To draw us from afar, to heal the pain and separation.

Such knowledge is almost too much for me . . . All I can say is “thank You.” And, praise to Your name. Amen, Lord. Amen.

@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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 64.