Tag Archives: openness

Prayer, Acceptance, Openness.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 7, 2018


acceptance word cloud

Prayer, Acceptance, Openness.

What profound insights Father Nouwen has. Seriously, at times his words penetrate deep inside me. Like, tonight.

He speaks of prayer being acceptance, if one is experiencing deep silence. This is rare for me, since I am so wordy. Lectio divina is one of my favorite prayer methods, as is Ignatian prayer. Both depend strongly on the use of words, Bible reading and sometimes written responses. However—I have experienced deep, silent prayer. Meditation is a challenge for me, but I have done it. It’s like writing with my left hand. (Yes, I am right handed.) I can do it, but writing with my non-dominant hand is a challenge, even difficult at times.

Yet, I immediately understood what Father Nouwen was talking about. If one experiences deep silence, prayer can very well mean acceptance. But, that is not all. “Prayer creates that openness where God can give himself to us. Indeed, God wants to give himself;” [1] Now, this is more difficult for me to believe. God wants to give Himself to us? To me?

But, wait. Father Nouwen clarifies, and explains further. “This openness, however, does not simply come of itself. It requires our confession that we are limited, dependent, weak, and even sinful.” [2]

Oh, yes, I am more than ready to admit that I am not God. (I am very familiar with the Recovery Program, which talks about that very thing. I am—one is—most certainly not God, no matter how much one might want to think that is the case. Or, feel rather omnipotent.) Yes, this does make one feel vulnerable. However, if God is right by my side, I will not feel as lost and alone. Or as vulnerable and small.

Thank You for Father Nouwen’s wonderful words, dear God. Just what I needed tonight.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 25.

[2] Ibid, 26.


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

PEACE: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 26, 2016

peace, dove stained glass

PEACE: Cooperation, Understanding, Acceptance

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

What an opportunity to engage with the young people! I encouraged them to make a sign with their personal definition of PEACE. This was a chance to listen to viewpoints on PEACE.

First, Reuben’s definition: “Peace is cooperation and understanding and long lives.”

Next, Sarah’s definition: “Peace is acceptance of everyone around you, regardless of your own personal beliefs.”

Truly, cooperation and understanding are part and parcel of any kind of clear communication. And, if we inject “peaceful” into that equation, we find something high level negotiators long for. (Thanks, Reuben.)

The second definition is similar, in several important ways. Acceptance is key to liking ourselves! Liking ourselves, accepting ourselves—go hand in hand with liking and accepting others. Here is the best part: if I have a relationship with others around me regardless of their (and my) personal beliefs, then I truly am pursuing peace. Breaking down walls, and extending openness and positivity. (Superb definition, Sarah!)

With young people who think like that, I have hope for the future.  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


PEACE: Feeling Safe, Being Safe

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April10, 2016

PEACE: Feeling Safe, Being Safe


Today I will share some special personal definitions of PEACE. These definitions came from an opportunity to visit the Muslim Community Center last Sunday afternoon.

The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

First, Taqeer’s personal definition: “PEACE is inside, at first, in your heart.”

When I asked if I could know more about that definition, Taqeer said, peace gets planted inside you. After that, then you give peace to others.

Then, Zaineb. Her personal definition: “PEACE is being/feeling safe, and equality.”

I was very much moved by what she told me. First, she mentioned her definition. I asked for further words to describe It was then that I felt such compassion. She had such challenges! Being born into a refugee camp, she had such memories. Frightened, feeling helpless and powerless, anger, despair. Zaineb and I embraced. I felt my heart overflow with such compassion for her.


Thanks to God that Zaineb is here in this country, now. Be truly present to her and her loved ones as she journeys along her path. Thanks for Taqeer and his family, too. We praise You for openness and for welcoming such a spectrum of difference, diversity and ability.


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

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week f personal definitions of PEACE possible.)

Please Forgive Me.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 21, 2015

FORGIVE as quickly as you want God to forgive

Please Forgive Me.

A position of control. Who doesn’t like to be in control? That is exactly where I am when I say, “That’s okay. I forgive you.”

But what about the flip side? What about when I totally made a misstep? When I put my foot in my mouth? Make a fool out of myself with another asinine comment? That makes me feel really small, really young and foolish.

So, who wouldn’t feel small, after considering that? Regardless of whether I have sacred guinea pigs or a deal of an alphabet soup, Henri Nouwen’s insight remains so profound. Imagine asking another person, “Can you forgive me?” Just think of how much openness of spirit and generosity it would take?

But, let’s go one further. Imagine asking God, “Can You forgive me?”

Nouwen even goes the next step, after that. He says in a quote from today’s reading: “Can I be open to forgiveness?” [1] Can I, indeed!

The Advent Action for this day, so appropriate: “Ask forgiveness of one person today. Let each person you meet today leave your presence a happier person.” [2]


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), 46.

[2] Ibid, 47.

Do Justice? Help Me Raise Up the Lowly!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 24, 2015

micah68 vertical

Do Justice? Help Me Raise Up the Lowly!

Last day at the New Wilmington Mission Conference—such an amazing, energizing experience! God was in so many aspects of this conference. So, so many. I saw the Lord show up in such unexpected ways, too.

As I turned to the modern psalm today, I was touched. It moved me. I wanted to highlight so many parts of this chapter from Praying the New Testament as Psalms.

I finally settled on two: psalm verses adapted from James 2 and Luke 1. First, “Deepen in me my love for my neighbor/as I carry out the works that accompany faith.” [1] This verse is so much in keeping with one of the major themes of the letter of James. Just as I love and have faith in God, my service is an expression of that deep love and gratitude for my salvation. My good works come out of my faith—are a natural expression of my love for God and neighbor.

Second, “Let me see the injustice of our world and join You in raising up the lowly.” [2] This verse adapted from the Magnificat of Luke 1 hits me right in the gut. My family knows that I can strike up a conversation with most anyone, at a moment’s notice. And, often, people start right in telling me their problems. I am a chaplain and pastoral care person, at heart. I can come alongside of people and walk with them through their difficulties.

Another side of this natural openness that is part and parcel of _me_ is that social justice component. God, give me such an openness to You. Please, God, help me raise Your name as I raise up the lowly. Thank You, God.


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.), 182.

[2] Ibid, 183.

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.