Tag Archives: meaningful

Love Prayer with Scripture

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 24, 2019

bible still life, van gogh

Love Prayer with Scripture

I love praying in the Ignatian way. Some of the most meaningful and memorable times of prayer I have had in recent years have been while praying using St. Ignatius’ suggestions of imagery and guidance with Scripture.

However—I do not pray in this way often enough. Why is it that I do not? (This is not a rhetorical question. I really, honestly wonder.) Why don’t I pray regularly in a manner that has proven itself meaningful to my heart and spirit, again and again?

My regular prayer life has shifted, though. When I was a chaplain, for almost ten years, I found it easier to keep the rhythms of prayer—and more innovative prayer styles—in my life. Not that I have ever found it easy to pray, but as I reflect, I find it was easier. Or, more straightforward. Somehow, less complicated.

I am also reflecting on my calling as a local church pastor. In March, in less than two months, I will celebrate my fifth anniversary at that UCC church in the Chicago suburbs. I love what I am doing now! Yes, I loved my position as a hospital and care center chaplain, and I love being a small church pastor, too. Except—now that my responsibilities have shifted, I seem to not have as much of the focus on my personal times of prayer.

One thing that does help me in my corporate prayer life is my (semi) regular attendance at Morning Prayer online. I am privileged to meet with an Episcopal website and ministry called www.dailyoffice.org for prayer several mornings a week. (I know I’ve spoken about them before on this blog.) Vicar Josh and the other friends at the Daily Office Network are a wonderful, supportive group of people. God bless them!

But, that still does not explain why I do not pray regularly in the Ignatian way. Perhaps that is why I have picked up this slim volume and am reading and blogging my way through it. Dear Lord, help me to be more regular in my personal prayer times with You. Help me to use this marvelous manner of praying that St. Ignatius advocated—regularly. I know You want me to be in regular contact with You. Help me—help all of us—come before You as trusting children, in prayer. In Jesus’ blessed name we pray, 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



Phoebe Palmer and Her Study

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 17, 2017

bible studies

Phoebe Palmer and Her Study

I don’t know quite how to say this, but I couldn’t get into Phoebe Palmer. I sort of understand that she is a big deal, and considered an awesome spiritual and religious writer. Except, her writing and I just did not connect in a meaningful way.

Hypothetical question: what happens if you have no idea of what is going on in the short reading you have for homework? That is, other than following the very bare bones outline—sort of. What then? What if you need to write a one-page response about that reading?

Well, one way to handle it is to do kinda what I’m doing: talk about how it’s difficult to talk about an article you did not quite understand.

I agree with Richard Foster. “To us today Phoebe Palmer’s ‘shorter way’ seems terribly convoluted and torturous. We simply do not have the history of searching and struggling to enter ‘the way of holiness’ that characterized the ‘saints’ of Palmer’s day.” [1] Now, I have read some rather obscure Christian writings, and enjoyed them. (Some people wouldn’t read those various types of writing. I was glad to!) I tend to be accepting, even of alternative topics. Not, I suspect, like Ms. Palmer. She seems a bit esoteric and distant to me. (Sorry, Ms. Palmer.)

Gee, out of sixteen writers, only one did not connect with me. I consider that pretty great! Perhaps tomorrow will bring a different kind of writer. Lord willing!



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), 105.

PEACE: Freedom and Equality

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 29, 2016

peace throughout the world - Jane Goodall

PEACE: Freedom and Equality

This is the next in a series of posts from Gemini Jr. High School in Niles. (Again, a big thank you to Mr. Rich Groeling, Gemini’s principal!)

Among the students who participated, I had two young people make their personal definitions of peace. However—neither of them left their names on the backs of their sheets of paper. I am sad about this! Still, I am presenting them here, knowing that they were and are meaningful to many, not only to these two young people.

The first definition: “Peace is freedom and equality.”

Whoa. Succinct, yet this definition says a mouthful. Yes, peace often is accompanied by freedom and equality. In the Hebrew scriptures, we can see how Moses spoke to the nation about the freedom that God grants. The spiritual redemption provided is invaluable, as is deliverance. Equality is an additional layer, layered on top. No one is more equal than any other. Each of us—each human being is unique, valuable, and different from each other person in the whole world. And, each one’s gifts are valued as much as the other. Color, creed, culture, ethnicity. Everyone matters. Unique, valuable, special.

The second definition can be challenging, and politically charged. I want to present it as the student wrote it. Simply, and in a heartfelt way.

The second definition: “Peace is freeing Palestine.”

Simply put, this definition shows a longing for freedom, just as much as the first definition did. And, not freedom in some abstract sense, but instead freedom to come and go, to work and to live their lives without fear. Without unequal distribution of power and control.

I can think of many other countries occupied by other regimes: the powerful states of Egypt, Greece, Rome. The Holy Roman Empire, the Muslim Caliphate, the British  Empire, various other controlling states.  Dear God, have mercy upon all those who suffer and have died with little or no aid or assistance. Wonderful opportunity to #PursuePEACE.


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

“Sole Provision for the Unknown Way”

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 7, 2015

path in Ireland

“Sole Provision for the Unknown Way”

Today’s prayer is about Longing. I chose it for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer, and this brief prayer concerns “Thy Kingdom Come” (Prayer 176, page 65) [1]

The prayer I chose for today was written by a Bishop of Utrecht, in what is now the Netherlands, about the year 900. (Thanks to the editor George Appleton for making sure it was translated and readable.) St. Radbod (also known as Radboud) wrote this heartfelt prayer.

Each line is compact, and brimming full of meaning and earnestness.

“Hunger and thirst, O Christ, for sight of Thee/Came between me and all the feasts of earth./Give thou Thyself the Bread, thyself the Wine,/Thou, sole provision for the unknown way./Long hunger wasted the world wanderer,/With sight of thee may he be satisfied.”

Just think. Radbod said sight of Christ came between him and—everything to eat or drink on earth. That doesn’t mean simply a common meal. No, the Bishop mentioned “feasts.” Those are special, sumptuous meals, full of uncommon, fine dishes. And I assume special drinks, as well. So, Christ means more to him than eating and drinking really special foods and drinks.

Could I say that? Does Christ mean more to me than feasting? Usually, yes. But—special, sumptuous meals? Extra-special food and drink? I realize I have a weakness for food and drink. (Yes, gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins I need to be particularly concerned about.) Some of it comes from my upbringing. I know food is deeply, significantly associated with comfort for me. From a very early age.

Moreover, Radbod calls Christ “sole provision for the unknown way.” I am assuming the Bishop was thinking of mendicants or pilgrims wandering through the land. They need no extra provisions, because Christ is enough for them. Christ fills them, satisfies them. With Christ as their Provision, their Companion, they are content.

Am I content with Christ as my Provision? Is He enough for me, or do I need more? And more, and more after that? I know I don’t wander the world very much. I’m pretty much a homebody, in fact. But—I ask again—am I satisfied with Christ, my Sole Provision? Dear Lord, such a penetrating question. And, I have no firm answer.

Gracious God, help me to be content. Satisfied. My “Sole Provision for the unknown way” ahead of me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my heartfelt prayer.


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), 65.

Pray for the Shining of Thy Face

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 4, 2015

winter-landscape-forest with sun wallpaper-

Pray for the Shining of Thy Face

How refreshing and alive are the words of many expressions of Gaelic Christianity! (Translated into English, of course.) Today’s prayer is about Affirmation. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer again deals with “Who art in heaven (Prayer 152, page 58) [1] This is a Gaelic prayer translated by Alistair MacLean.

A quote from this short prayer: “… the dark happenings of my lot hide the shining of my face from me. Yet, if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough.” Yes, the prayer is deep and meaningful. I feel it deeply, especially recently.

I have had some run-ins with sin lately. (And, who hasn’t?) However, I was especially feeling my sinfulness during the past few days. Because the happenings of my lot—my life—are sometimes dark and sin-filled, I can’t always tell that I stray from God’s path for me. But, I do. Dear Lord, how I wish I could walk with You more nearly! Love You more dearly!

Yes, it’s all about my yearning to walk with my God.

(I’m taking just a moment to talk a little about my view of God. Between ten and twelve years ago, I discovered I had new difficulty with calling God “my Heavenly Father.” I struggled with my feelings for some time. I even didn’t want to pray the Lord’s Prayer, for months on end. However, I have pretty much come to terms with that difficulty by now.)

Dear God, my Heavenly Father, thank You for coming alongside of me. Thank You for being present with me, even through the darkness. I know it doesn’t matter to You if we are in darkness (since both night and day are the same to You), but often, it matters to me very much. I get scared and uncertain. Thank You for holding my hand. And, yes. It is enough.


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), 58.

Looking Forward to Mission (Conference)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 17, 2015

New Wilmington Mission Conference theme verse for 2015

New Wilmington Mission Conference theme verse for 2015

Looking Forward to Mission (Conference)

I appreciate the book I am praying through this month. I turned to a meaningful chapter tonight, in light of what I’m going to do tomorrow. I’m going to the New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania, with my daughter. A gathering of about 1000 people celebrating the mission and outreach of the wider Church. (It is a conference of the Presbyterian Church/USA.)

Praying the New Testament as Psalms brings me a fresh way of looking at the New Testament. I was interested to see what my book for July had concerning mission.

A personally meaningful verse from this modern psalm comes from Mark 16: “Call me each moment to be Your disciple,/sending me out to proclaim the message.” [1] God, You have called me to be Your disciple. Wow. I didn’t beg. I haven’t come to You, pleading to become Your disciple. Instead, You chose me. You called to me, and it is Your wish that I am Your disciple. I haven’t figured out how that all works, but I know it is true.

“Call me each moment.” Yes, it is a sort of a one-time calling. At least, that’s all that is necessary. But You, God, keep on calling. Continuing to call me, urging me to proclaim Your message. You encourage, instruct, serve as mentor and guide. All for me and all for serving You.

I am going to be in the midst of an amazing gathering for the next week. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a group of people engaged in outreach of all different kinds, to all different communities throughout the world. Yes, the majority of the people who attend the conference very much feel called, in some way. What a wonderful opportunity to receive instruction and nurture to get refilled. How beneficial! I need refilling to continue to proclaim God’s message. This is one sure way for me to get it.

God, bless the people who attend NWMC. Bless the staff, and especially be with all of the speakers and facilitators this week. Give everyone who attends an instructive time, as well as a time to have fun! I know You are planning marvelous things for this week. Amen and amen!


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] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 140.

Changing Why? Changing Where? Life Sends Changes our Way.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, May 3, 2015

life worth living

Changing Why? Changing Where? Life Sends Changes our Way.

I spent the day traveling. Working, and then traveling, again. I did dip into our prayer book of the month, Inner Compass. That was when I finally got home, about midnight.

Found this gem! “Changing the Where may well free us from something that we find oppressive or destructive.” [1] (“Where” is a mental construct where we look within and discover our inner landscape, and see where each of us really are.)

Such an insight. I will need to think about this for a while.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for this book Inner Compass. Thanks for inspiring authors to write such meaningful, helpful books. Encourage all of our hearts as we approach You in prayer and meditation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.


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 sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 9.

Worship = School of Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 13, 2015

my heart saying a prayer

Worship = School of Prayer

As we have talked and thought about prayer the past few days, praying can be described in many different ways. Today we’ll talk about a additional way of describing prayer.

Have you ever thought about how worship informs us about prayer? Teaches us, mentors us? Worship is another big boost to prayer.

Yes, worship is often a big production, in many assemblies and religious settings in the United States. Many parts to worship, and not necessarily all quiet, peaceful, serene. Some parts of worship can be downright loud, or noisy, or even strident. We—the congregation, choir, and minister—perform our true and meaningful worship of God. No matter how loud or soft, no matter how many or how few people take part in the worship service, God is glorified. And, we are changed.

As Rev. Howell says, “In worship we offer ourselves and what we have to God. In worship we are even transformed into people we would never be had we not come.” [1] Week in and week out, our worship and our praying so often become inextricably intertwined. In and of myself, I know I am prideful, selfish, and mean-spirited, at heart. I have other faults and places I fall short, too. These attitudes and ways of being are barriers to true communication with God.

What on earth can I do about this dreadful situation I find myself in? Yes, I can pray alone. That sometimes—even often gets me into God’s presence. But what about a booster shot, or some kind of focus for the prayer? Instead of individual prayer, why can’t we transform it into corporate prayer? Instead of individual worship, we do the same, and transform it into corporate worship.

So, instead of merely observing my weekly worship service, sitting on the sidelines, I can get involved. I can worship God with others. We all can humbly offer our weekly worship to God. And as we gather together week after week, we may be surprised to find that God shows up, too. So often, worship is a concentrated lens for us to become more focused in prayer.

Weekly prayer. Regular prayer. Corporate prayer informs our individual prayer times, enabling us to pray alone with more facility, openness and faithfulness. Not to mention caring, encouragement, support and love. A great addition to the school of prayer, indeed. Thanks, God.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 47.

Prayer of the Heart

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, August 7, 2014

PRAY when you can't put your prayer into words

Prayer of the Heart

I have been visiting, thinking about, and praying for several members of my congregation. I can just hear some say “Good, good. Wonderful thing for a pastor to be doing.” I’ve also been preparing for another Sunday sermon. I am in the midst of preaching a sermon series on prayer. (Wow, just say that five times fast: “Summer sermon series.” Ready, go!)

As a reference for the next few weeks, I’m going to be using an excellent book called “A Praying Congregation” by Jane Vennard, UCC minister, spiritual director and adjunct professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. Superb stuff on prayer and on relationship, in her book! This information will help prepare everyone for the kickoff for our intercessory prayer ministry in September, the Prayer Project.

Funny thing, I happened to be doing some study for this sermon on Matthew 6:5-6—where Jesus is teaching on prayer. I found a longer article of Vennard’s on one of my favorite sermon study websites, The Text this Week (www.textweek.com). Very similar material (and some overlap). But I was especially intrigued by what she said about the Prayer of the Heart in the article.

I connected this Prayer of the Heart with several members of my congregation. Even more so, as I continued to reflect, I felt this Prayer of the Heart being particularly meaningful for me.

Some call these prayers “Breath Prayers,” as well. Short, meaningful prayers said in one breath. One phrase breathing in, the other breathing out. “In You, Lord” (inhale) “I put my trust.” (exhale) Or, “Dear God, hold me close.” The most famous prayer of this sort is called the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ,” (inhale) “have mercy on me, a sinner.” (exhale) This method of prayer is centuries old, and can be practiced several times, for several minutes, or even repetitively over time until it becomes a part of your being.

This Prayer of the Heart is a wonderful idea, one that I do not ordinarily think of! (Especially for those who are going through brief or continuing difficulty, pain, or distress.) Thank God that there are a myriad of ways to pray, to come before God.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, thank You for prayer. Thank You that we can pray anywhere, any time. No matter what is happening in our lives, You always hear and come alongside of each one of us. Thank You for your loving, caring presence, now and always.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net