Tag Archives: pain

More Devastation. More Prayers.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 8, 2017

Psalm 23-4 though I walk through valley shadow death

More Devastation. More Prayers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer certainly faced a great deal of devastation in his life, as well as the lives of those he was close to, and the lives of those in the congregations he served.

I suspect he knew well the words of Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Although that verse was written so long ago by King David, remembering the times when he was so very afraid (yes—afraid for his very life), that verse echoes and re-echoes down the crooked pathways of time. Sometimes through dark and fearsome valleys, sometimes through pelting storms and fiery trials. Yet, King David’s words ring true, for many, many people throughout the ages.

I know those words from Psalm 23, personally as well as professionally. I have pulled them out of my Bible in emergency rooms, in the intensive care unit, in living rooms, even sitting on street corners or in waiting rooms. People have spoken these precious words from Psalm 23 along with me. Other times, people have been too choked up to even utter a word, and silently allowed these words of comfort to wash over them.

Dear Lord, whether in grief, or pain, or anger, or trauma, we hurt. We cry out. We question. We wonder, “WHY?” (And, there is rarely an answer. An answer that satisfies, that is … )

Gracious God, You have said You would be right by our sides, even though we go through those extremely difficult experiences. Even though our parents—or siblings—or spouses—or children die. Even though we lose our homes, or limbs, or jobs, or even countries. Even though we may become refugees or homeless or incarcerated or even suicidal. Dear Lord, You have promised to remain with us. Right by our sides. Perhaps even holding our hands, through the trial or torment.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “the answer of God to the world that nailed Christ to the cross [was] blessing…. The world would have no hope if this were not so.” [1]

Only a love that extraordinary could possibly encompass my fear and suffering and hopelessness. And, encompass the griefs, pains, angers, traumas, and all of the countless sufferings of all of the rest of the world. God provides hope where there is no hope. God comes alongside when it seems as if there is nothing left. Thank God. Thank God for being there through Hurricane Harvey, and with Hurricanes Irma, José and Katia coming quickly. Dear God, help us. Please.



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, 89.

In Which A Kidney Stone Happens

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 17, 2016

hospital drawing

In Which A Kidney Stone Happens

No one can say that I lead a boring life. Always something going on. This afternoon, someone close to me had a kidney stone. Again.

Yes, the pain was excruciating. Yes, I took the loved one to the hospital. And, yes. Everything is all right now.

But, how quickly everything can change. In just a half an hour, perhaps a bit more. Going from perfectly normal and pain-free to debilitating, excruciating pain.

I wonder. How is it that one little misstep can mean a catastrophic fall? Or, losing one’s balance can cause life-threatening injury? Or, a split second of inattention on the road can mean a multiple car accident?

I guess I go through life blithely, never thinking about ninety percent of the things that are near misses. I suspect the vast majority of people in the world are the same way. Yet, today, I thought about all of those times, all of those situations that just could have been. Catastrophic, or life-threatening. Even, the sudden loss of life.

Dear God, thank You for watching over me. Thank You for being a strong Fortress, my trustworthy Dwelling Place. I pray that You may continue watching over me and my family, and my loved ones. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest prayers.

In Your mercy, hear all of our prayers. #PrayForNice


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

Lots to Pray About

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lots to Pray About

Lots to pray about? That is an understatement.

Yes, at my church—in the family of faith I belong to—there are many prayer needs and prayer requests. Even some joys in prayer. However, in the country where I live, there are even more prayer needs. Serious, even agonizing needs.

I feel strongly about these larger, serious prayer needs. There are a number of wrongful deaths that occurred during the past few weeks. I realize feelings are still running high, throughout the country. I believe that prayer can assist. Assist with feelings, both negative and positive. And, assist us even in dealing with horror and agony.

So much fear, anxiety, even violence here in the Chicago area. Added to that, the injustice in the country against many others. When I consider all the pain in the situations, in the lives of the various individuals and families involved, I am saddened beyond measure. I realize that trauma and pain can still infiltrate the feelings of many.

Alone, I sometimes cry over all the fear, horror and pain. But when I join together with others, in relationships, I won’t be as likely to shrink into myself. People will still mourn, but still feel the companionship of others.

Prayer can help in many situations. Others can help to bear the burdens and pain. Please, God, hearken to our prayers. All of 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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE, Best Achieved Alongside of Justice

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 29, 2016


PEACE, Best Achieved Alongside of Justice

As I continue to ask people for their personal definition of PEACE, I am intrigued by the ones who have to think hard about the word or phrase they choose. Sometimes, taking a good deal of time for the answer. I am equally interested in the ones who immediately know what their definition is going to be.

Continuing the listening tour. I am traveling around in my efforts to pursue PEACE.

My friend and colleague from St. John’s Lutheran Church, Rev. Joe McInnis, invited me to attend the church he pastors, in Wilmette, Illinois. One of his parishioners knew immediately what his personal definition was, and he told me so!

An older man of definite ideas and opinions, his name is Peter Knobel. He told me PEACE is best achieved alongside of justice.

I told him how deep that point of view was! I asked him to elaborate. He said, “People sometimes associate peace with power and victory. A different vector of peace is alongside of justice. Like in South Africa, where for years they had a reconciliation and peace movement.” Peter considers peace and justice as closely connected. In his view, peace is best achieved using just and equitable means.

Peter’s words inspired me to think deeply. Yes, peace is an important concept. Yet, peace is out of reach for many people, throughout the world, especially in places of dissension, fighting and outright warfare. When Peter mentioned South Africa, I remembered several personal accounts I both read and heard of the troubles in South Africa.

Many people did not experience peace. Many people had horrible things happen to them, to their relatives and comrades, and to their homes and all they held dear. We cannot just wallpaper over those horrible, gut-wrenching, intensely agonizing events.

Yes, hurting people hurt people. Yes, hurting people need to be offered the place and the space to express that hurt, that pain, that anguish, that anger. And, yes. Hurting people can travel through their pain, through the muck and the mire, and come out the other side. Hurting people can journey the path of victim—through the possibility of justice, and out on the other side. They can identify as survivors. Finally—they can start that journey towards peace. Peacefulness. In large part, because of justice.


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

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