Tag Archives: loving

Isaiah 40, George Frederick Handel, and the Good Shepherd

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jesus the Good Shepherd icon John 10

Isaiah 40, George Frederick Handel, and the Good Shepherd

I love Isaiah 40. I really do. So, when I saw that today’s daily lectionary reading was from that chapter, I rejoiced! What a wonderful set of verses from Isaiah.

This doesn’t always happen to me, but it did tonight as I read verses 9 to 11. As I went through the passage, I immediately, vividly heard arias from “The Messiah” in my head. One of my all-time favorite Baroque oratorios, by George Frederick Handel. I prefer the contralto aria “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion” to the aria “He shall feed His flock.” But, that’s just me. Both lovely pieces of music. From a simply gorgeous oratorio.

But, I’m not here to gush over Handel and “The Messiah.” (Even though I could.) I wanted to talk about how verse 11 struck me as encouraging. Caring. Comforting. Even, maternal. I know that, sometimes, stuff happens. Life happens. Horrible, incredibly sad, terribly frightening things happen. But even though stuff happens, I recognize that God is right there with us, going through it all, at our sides.

It may not seem fair. Sometimes, the last things in the world that comes to mind are fair play, decency, honesty, and even-handedness. It just ain’t happening.

But, God is there, through it all. I suspect shepherds were (maybe still are) used to leading their sheep and lambs through some pretty dangerous stuff. Even simply being—surviving—can strain a person’s resiliency. That’s one reason why God has us humans interrelate: as an encouragement and support to each other.

So, God. I am asking: could You hold me gently in Your arm for a while? I am particularly tired. And discouraged. Thanks for understanding. You’re the best. (Really and truly!)


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 .

Full of Grace and Encouragement. Prayer, Too!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 13, 2015

encourage each other water

Full of Grace and Encouragement. Prayer, Too!

Barnabas is mentioned just a few times in the book of Acts, but always with such encouragement! That was Barnabas, all over. (I’m talking about Acts 11, now.)

Yes, I have some of the gift of encouragement. I enjoy building up others with the joy of God. If people are doing something right, my first impulse is to comment and tell them so!

I wonder. How often do others have that impulse?

The other leaders in the beginning of church movement wanted to check out what was going on in Antioch. They were truly led by God in their choice of investigators. Who better to investigate, verify and report back?

Dear God, help me to be encouraging, positive, loving and caring with others. And when I get placed in situations where others are doing something questionable, Lord, help me to always follow Your will and ways, especially when dealing with others.


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 .

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Think About—Talk About—Preach About Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

PRAY hug friends with prayers

Think About—Talk About—Preach About Prayer

If you’ve been following this occasional blog during the past few months, I may have mentioned my change in job circumstances a time or two. About how my good friend and co-pastor Pastor Gordon and I were working together at the small congregation in the Chicago suburbs. And how Gordon has since left for another call and responsibility with his denomination, the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ. So, I won’t go into that again.

However, before Gordon left the church, he and I met during the last week of May to recap our ministry over the past three months. In other words, look at all that we had done, and done right!

My good friend affirmed the fact that we had been a real encouragement to this congregation. That was a real affirmation for me, personally! During the next few weeks, as I was thinking about and praying about possible summer preaching series-es, the idea of prayer kept coming to me again and again. So, the week after Pentecost, I rolled it out. I began the series, and I want to concentrate especially on intercessory prayer, in the weeks ahead.

I know, from both my work and my personal experience, how much people often appreciate intercessory prayer! When I worked as a chaplain, I would usually ask the patients and/or their loved ones, “Is there anything you would like for me to do?” Very often, the answer would be, “Yes, please! Could you pray for us?” or, “Pray for good test results!” or perhaps, “Could you pray for this other situation, too?” And, people of all different denominations and faith traditions, too. Even those from outside of Christianity would occasionally ask me for prayer.

Time and again, I was so awestruck and honored to be entrusted with this precious opportunity—the opportunity to come into God’s presence with these friends. And, to journey with them, for a little way, down this road of challenge, difficulty, grief and pain.

That was such a vivid, sometimes rewarding, sometimes heart-rending experience. I really feel called to present this opportunity to this congregation. We can offer to pray for others. God willing, we can be loving, caring friends to people in need. I plan on starting this prayer ministry the first week in August.

I know there are some praying friends who are reading this blog. If you feel so led, could you pray for us and this congregation, as we prepare to minister to others? And, show others the love and care of Christ, as we pray for them and their needs? Thanks so much. I don’t know what I would do without sisters and brothers in God to walk with me. Together, we can do so much more than me, all by myself. Praise God!

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, thank You for Your comfort and care. Thank You for the invitation to come before You in prayer. Gracious God, help us to lift up our friends and acquaintances to You, in both praises and requests. We are so glad You are always ready to hear us, and respond. Thank You! Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

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.


God? Wooing Me?

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, February 1, 2014


God? Wooing Me?

The other day, I prayed using an excellent book on spiritual direction and prayer that I’ve mentioned before. (The author is the Rev. Martin Smith, a skilled spiritual director and now a retired Episcopal priest. His book The Word Is Very Near You is subtitled A Guide to Praying with Scripture.) As I read several pages, he gave the example of prayer using virtually any passage of Scripture, from the Old as well as the New Testament.

Sure, it’s easy to pray using the Gospels, or the Epistles, or Psalms. And, Proverbs and the historical books of the Hebrew Scriptures can be used for prayer with a minimum of difficulty. However, Fr. Martin gave an example from Song of Songs. I must admit, I have not even looked at Song of Songs for at least ten years. Not since I read the whole Bible cover to cover. (I’ve done this five times. True. Not as many as some prayer- and Scripture-reading giants I know, but still. I got a really great overview of the whole Bible because I did this.)

The verses that were suggested were 2:10-11. I looked at the two verses, and considered. Reflected. Okay, I thought. Fr. Martin suggested it, so I’ll give this a try. Accordingly, I settled down and prepared myself for a time of prayer and meditation.

The thoughts that gradually came into my head were deep and loving. Wow, God. You want to woo me into a relationship with You! Really? Really?? I’m not used to that kind of language from You, God. I know—that is, I think I am in a relationship with You, already. But by meditating on these verses, I get the sense that God wants to show me another facet of relationship. Perhaps, draw me deeper, into a whole new level. The companionship, the easy rapport. Is that it? Is that what God wants me to begin to understand?

I’ll need to get used to this idea, God. I’m not dismissing it, no! Never! Just getting used to it, that’s all.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thanks for the suggestion to pray using Song of Songs. (Fr. Martin has such excellent ideas!) God, please forgive me for doubting You, for being hesitant to think of You in such realistic, down-to-earth terms. Thanks for your boundless, deep, generous love for me—for us. Help us to be so aware of Your love for us that we naturally show love for one another. In Your mercy, God, hear our prayer.


Comfort and Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 28, 2013

Comfort and Prayer

I went to a funeral today. An elderly person close to me died recently. Today was a celebration of long, fruitful life as well as a grieving for someone who has passed beyond our immediate connection. Into God’s gracious hands.

As a chaplain and caregiver, I frequently am put in the position of communication with elderly individuals. I enjoy coming alongside of them, traveling with them for a little while. My heart goes out to these dear people. Each one has a story. Whether big events or little circumstances, whether traveling to far places for years or staying in one place for an entire lifetime—I always can listen to and learn from their personal stories.

This particular, much-loved senior had a full life. I heard many personal anecdotes today. Many remembrances, and a great deal of love and caring was shared from a long and blessed life.

I realize that some are less blessed in their lives, but each one has a continuing story. As I listen to each story, I can rejoice with the teller, or share their concern or pain. I can offer to pray, and bring their story before God—with or without words. That’s my privilege, to journey with individuals, couples, or families. Whether at a care center, a private home, or on the street, it doesn’t matter. God is still here. And I can come alongside people with the ministry of presence.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for the opportunity to come together, in community. Thank You for the blessed, yet difficult, experience of grieving and mourning. I know You are with each of us, every day—whether we realize it or not. Forgive me, God, for forgetting You so often. Lead me—lead us—to a blessed understanding of Your presence by our sides, each day. Thanks for Your care, Your comfort, and Your encouragement. God, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

water and sunset

Waiting in silence

A few days ago, one of the passages I meditated on in prayer was the beginning of Psalm 62. I don’t always pray with a specific passage of Scripture in mind, but recently I’ve been using a method of prayer called Benedictine Rumination. (ruminating or chewing repetitively on Scripture—I’ll have to talk more about that, soon)

I was struck by the first part of the first verse of Psalm 62. “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow!

Sometimes, when I encourage my mind, body and spirit to enter into prayer, I feel myself sinking into prayer. This particular prayer time was one of those times. Leaving behind the hurry, the hustle and bustle, the noise, everything distracting or worrisome. I felt a welcome from God, and the gentle silence. Open, friendly, peaceful presence.

Sadly, I was not able to stay there during the whole prayer time. However, I had experienced it for part of it. I knew it was there. I was able to tap into that warm presence, that gentle silence, for some of the time. I really needed it! I sure could use it on a regular basis, God!

I understand that silence is something that makes some people uncertain. Even anxious. Not me. (that is, usually) But I have a difficult time getting there. Your warm, gracious welcoming arms are waiting for me, I know. Thanks for being there. And thanks for being warm and welcoming, instead of cold and distant.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes it’s difficult to enter into prayer, much less break into Your gentle silence. Please help me to leave worry, anxiety and hurry behind. Forgive me for focusing on sad things, angry feelings, and hurt places in my life. I know Your presence is waiting. Thanks for making Your warm, gracious silence available, any time I need it. Any time I want it. Thanks, God. Amen.