Tag Archives: Meditation

Problems of Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017

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Problems of Meditation?

Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.

His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” [1]

Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.

I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 26.

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.

 

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

The Psalter and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

The Psalter and Meditation

I am such a fan of Dietrich Bonhöffer and his devotional writing. Sure, many people praise his deep theological works. (I think his theology is profound, too.) However, his attitude toward meditation and prayer reach me in a deep, profound way, internally.

I know how important reading is for those who understand “that special intimate relationship with God’s Word.” [1] In the excerpt, we discovered the repercussions for each one who is actively looking for an effective, emotional interaction.

Bonhöffer considered the Psalms as the way he became closer to God. I know how challenging this is for many, but think of something hopeful and upbeat. If anyone can get their hands on this devotional reading, it would be a worthwhile way of deepening our relationship with God.

Dear God, help me to discover more about You and Your World. Lead me in Your way and direct our path. Hear us, o Lord God where You can remind us of how valuable the meditation can be. Hear us when we pray.

@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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 10.

 

Joyce Huggett’s Take on Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 2, 2017

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Joyce Huggett’s Take on Meditation

If you ask ten different people what their definition of meditation is, I suspect you will get ten different answers. Joyce Huggett has a definite definition. An awesome answer, that is.

Joyce Huggett certainly is well known for her books and other writings on prayer and meditation. In today’s reading, at first she describes what Christian meditation is not. It does not involve yoga, Eastern meditation or transcendental meditation.

I love yoga. I do it because of the marvelous stretching and strengthening abilities my body has been able to develop. Yes, certain of my yoga teachers do mention things like “the third eye,” and “chakras.” However, they do not insist that anyone in their classes follow the Eastern ways and spiritual practices that some people also insist are part and parcel of yoga.

In fact, my whole body now welcomes yoga. My mind slows when I practice. My body, joints and muscles are improving in their working together, more and more. And, if urged to observe any practice that is foreign to my understanding and belief, I simply, quietly thank God for my God-given powerful body, mind and spirit. All these parts of my Self/self now work together much better than before I started to practice yoga.

But, I digress. I really wanted to talk about what Joyce Huggett says about meditation. After giving several examples from Psalm 119—which has every verse describing an action taken with the Word of God, or Scripture, or God’s Laws, or Statutes, or Precepts, or Commandments—she talks about the verb “meditate,” as used in these verses. The verb can also mean “’to muse,’ ‘to ponder,’ ‘to reflect,’ ‘to consider.’ In other words, Christian meditation involves, not emptiness, but fullness.” [1]

Yes, we consider God’s Word, in all its fullness, and as we “encounter the Living Word, Jesus himself.” [2] Psalm 119 serves as a marvelous example for us to dig deeply into both God’s Word and well as into God’s heart.

Lord, help me to seek after You, Your heart, and Your paths. Please, 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.

Joyce Huggett’s Take on Meditation #matterofprayer

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 11.

[2] Ibid.

Meditation, by Thomas More

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, March 1, 2017

man-praying-silhouette

Meditation, by Thomas More

Today is Ash Wednesday. Yes, I have ashes on my forehead. Today is also the beginning of Lent, and I was trying to decide what I am going to do for a Lenten discipline for the past number of days. Nothing seemed right. Nothing—until—I rediscovered this book over the weekend.

I absolutely love Richard Foster, and I greatly appreciate Renovare. So, what is not to like about this edited book of selected readings on the Spiritual Disciplines? That’s what I thought. Nothing, indeed.

I read the first reading, by Thomas More. Richard Foster set up the reading wonderfully, which was entitled “A Godly Meditation.” [1] The words just kept flowing out of his pen (and of Thomas More’s pen, too), and line after line went straight to my heart.

I was also touched to find out that the sentence I most appreciated was the same one that Richard Foster remarked upon.  For one line in particular: “To think my most enemies my best friends.”

God, if only I could behave toward all people I meet in such a way. I know, I realize I might run into people who believe very differently from me. And—the best part is, according to Thomas More, to consider these people (who believe very differently, again) with the utmost respect, even kindness. Read this, please. Warms my heart.

I love other countries, I appreciate people’s organization. Dear Lord, help me to find bits of this poem in other places and give me a new appreciation of Thomas More.  Lord, in all of our understanding, please send me new insights about Thomas More. Please, God.

@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), 6

Be Present in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 27, 2017

lily-and-lily-pads-mindful

Be Present in Prayer

As I read the short passage this evening from the book How to Sit, I was struck by how much common sense was to be found in this brief reading. “When we have the capacity to be peaceful and joyful as we sit, we can sit anywhere.” [1] Yes, that is correct. The quote says “we can sit anywhere.” That is anywhere, in peace and joy.

When I am anxious or fearful, this is an option for me. When I am angry or jealous or depressed, again—this is an option for me. Being in the present moment, striving after peace and joy.

From what I understand, peace and joy flow into the sitting, and being present. Prayer and meditation are part and parcel of sitting, and being present. This practice is simple, and straight forward. NOT easy, but it is simple. “We are not pulled away by the past, the future, or by anger or jealousy in the present. When we sit like that, we sit as a free person.” [2]

Then, as I sit in prayer and meditation, I am free. I am not bound by strong, difficult emotions. My insides are not tied up in knots, and I can approach the Holy freely. What a gift.

Gracious God, thank You for showing me this option. Thank You for giving me possibilities in this life. Forgive me for disregarding You and Your kindness to me. Help us walk close by You from this day forward. In Jesus’ precious name we all pray, amen.

@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), 82.

[2] Ibid.