Tag Archives: patience

Can I Pray This Way?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 23, 2019

do not be afraid, print

Can I Pray This Way?

What a question! As I consider praying in the Ignatian way, I remember the times I vividly experienced this way of prayer. Contemplative, imaginative, experiential prayer. But—will it work for me, this time?

I must admit up front: I am afraid. I am afraid that nothing will happen, this time. I am afraid of not paying sufficient attention to this type of prayer. I am afraid of being far from God. I am afraid my mind is so cluttered and full of chatter that I will not be able to focus. And, I am afraid that my heart is not right with God. This time.

Father Timothy mentions a woman who has similar fears and anxieties over praying in the Ignatian way, too. She follows those fears with: “When I reflect on the meaning of the Scripture, I have the sense that something will surface….there will be some little hold that allows me to enter the surface of the text and go in.” [1] I appreciate this woman’s witness to her experience.

Yes, I can pray. I do pray, in a conversational manner. I honestly enjoy talking with God! Except—it goes in cycles. I need to take this woman’s advice. She recommends patience and trust. I need to patiently try, try, and try again to work on Ignatian prayer.

Perhaps I ought to take the suggestions right here. One woman mentions a simple thing for her to imagine is the weather. [2] I realize the Bible does not go into depth, in terms of description. However, using Godly imagination with what I know of the weather in the area of Palestine is definitely a place to start.

Also, using as many senses as I can is a good suggestion. What can I hear from this passage? What do I see? Are there any smells? Can I taste anything? These are all places for me to start to begin Ignatian contemplation. Even if I am afraid of having my prayer stall out.

Dear Lord, thank You for providing different ways to approach You. You want above all to be in communication with Your children. It doesn’t matter how we do it, just that we do it regularly. Help me to come to You with Ignatian prayer and contemplation, even though I am afraid. 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

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 41.

[2] Ibid.

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 27, 2018

prayer candles

Patience, Possible, Pray.

Father Nouwen makes it sound easy. Well, if not easy, then straight-forward.

I know very well that I sometimes am all of these unpleasant things he talks about. I hate, I don’t forgive, I clutch worldly things or attitudes to my chest and turn away from the obvious invitations and overtures God in making to me. Yes, God. Guilty as charged. Yet, Henri Nouwen does make the process of prayer sound easy. (Or, straight-forward, whichever is more applicable to me at the time.)

Yet—before I get down to the serious business of praying, Nouwen tells me there is a caveat. “You must have patience, of course, before your hands are completely open and their muscles relaxed.” [1]

Patience? Seriously? Is this trait an absolute necessity? Because if it is, I do not think I will get very far in my walk with God. Or, my continuing conversation with God, either.

In the very next paragraph, however, Fr. Nouwen rephrases that absolute, and turns it into a conditional suggestion. He even acknowledges our human frailty. He says, “You can never fully achieve such an attitude, for behind each fist another one is hiding, and sometimes the process seems endless. Much has happened in your life to make all these fists….At any hour of the day or night you might clench again for fear.” [2]

Ah. Now you have it. Fr. Nouwen lays out the clear dilemma of prayer and the human experience. I have such fear and trepidation in my heart. I am filled with such anger, or shame, or even revulsion. Or, God forbid, I find myself chock-full of self-righteous judgement. Any or all of these can hinder or even totally stop my conversation with God.

What do I do about all of these horrible emotions and character traits that are so deeply rooted inside of me? Nouwen says, “What is possible is to open your hands without fear, so the other can blow your sins away…Then you feel a bit of new freedom, and praying becomes a joy, a spontaneous reaction to the world and the people around you.” [3]

Dear Lord, is it possible? Can I actually be welcomed into Your presence even though I am chock-full of all of these yucky emotions and character traits? Thank God, indeed.

 

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

[3] Ibid, 10.

@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

Problems of Meditation?

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

11039153_10207108882579476_6811544607611580785_n

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

 

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), 26.

Richard of St. Victor Submits

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 3, 2017

submission, flower.jpg

Richard of St. Victor Submits

Fascinating reading today. I had never heard of this spiritual writer before, who set down the distinctive markers of medieval spirituality. As he went about this writing, Richard of St. Victor had an ease of speaking of intimate relations.

“See to it that the very time He begins to knock at the door is not the first time that you begin to want to throw out the crowds of those who make noise.” [1] Ah! How often am I distracted by outer noises, much less inner thoughts, wanderings and other distractions! Lord, You know how much difficulty I have had (for years!) with prayer and meditation.

Then, there is the plain statement “How often must one repeat ‘Wait and wait again, a moment here and a moment there.” [2] It is a rather ambiguous statement. Yet, this can refer to the Lover, to Christ waiting outside, knocking, patiently standing outside the door. He could break down the door. He could. As we reflect on that word picture, ‘Wait, and wait again’ can also refer to the beloved. How often do I lose patience with God? (Far oftener than I care to admit to myself, much less to all the rest of the world.)

Yes, this practice of waiting is a way for me to practice the spiritual gift of submission. Waiting quietly in line, sitting silently with a smile, walking slowly in connection with

I am reminded of other mystical, medieval literature I have read, especially in these phrases: “He is heard by a showing; seen by contemplation; kissed warmly by devotion, drawn close for the infusion of His sweetness.” [3] Ah. To be loved wholly, fully, without strings or hang-ups or any other distraction: that would be heavenly. Wait! I already am loved that way. Thank You, 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), 185.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Wait Patiently, In Expectation!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 30, 2015

PATIENCE God is not absent

Wait Patiently, In Expectation!

How often have I seen a small child (or, even, a not-so-small child) complain, “I want it now!” and, “Are we there yet?” And even, “Is it ever going to be time to go in?”

Ah, how difficult it is to be patient, sometimes.

Fr. Nouwen quotes the author Simone Weil as saying in her notebook, “Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” I have learned to be wary of expectations. Wishful, pie-in-the-sky expectations, or dreary, down-in-the-dumps expectations. Either way, runaway expectations can be poisonous and completely unhelpful.

Sure, in the short term, expectations can be positive. Even long-term goals, prudently set, can be beneficial, too. Watch for hopeful, helpful expectations. A good thing, certainly, within limits.

But, what if—like a small child—I stamp my foot and just can’t wait through the weeks of Advent for the Christmas holidays? Or, what if an acquaintance of mine is in a snit because of faulty holiday expectations?

Well. Nouwen tells us in this reading that patience comes from a Latin word “patior,” which means “to suffer.” The root of the primary word is a negative one! Yet, Nouwen showed us how this “bad” word can become positive. “What seems a hindrance becomes a way; what seems an obstacle becomes a door; what seems a misfit becomes a cornerstone.” [1]

Dear Lord, help me to open my eyes. Help me view the “not-quite-rights” as Your much beloved children. Dear Lord, gracious God, keep my mind focused on things of You. Let me view the challenges and difficulties of life instead as way stations in my journey through life.

@chaplaineliza

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), 4.

Teach Me Patience, Lord

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, October 23, 2015

PATIENCE God isn't finished Phil 1-5

Teach Me Patience, Lord

People have recognized their need for patience for a very long time. For centuries. Suffering is a common thread in prayer, too. When I see patience (in prayer) coupled with suffering (in prayer), I know that I am looking at someone well accustomed to prayer.

The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Deliver Us from Evil.” (Prayer 437, page 130) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Suffering. Written by the English churchman Thomas Fuller (1608-61), this brief, pithy prayer appears below.

“Lord, teach me the art of patience whilst I am well, and give me the use of it when I am sick. In that day either lighten my burden or strengthen my back. Make me, who so often in my health have discovered my weakness presuming on my own strength, to be strong in my sickness when I solely rely on Thy assistance.”

I can’t help but think of the quote “O Lord, give me patience. And, give it to me right now!” This first line of this humorous prayer (above, here) is a joke, yes. But it is also disturbingly true. Lord, O, how I need those reminders.

God, to give You the option and decision to pray for either a stopping of Burdens or to strengthen me for the road again? (What insight. What a way with words.) Which is followed by an honest and forthright description of himself : my goodness, he is presumptuous. Just like me. And at the end of the prayer? Fuller speaks plainly: “I solely rely on Thy assistance.”

Ah, yes. Whatever the situation, Fuller has the words. (He was a wordsmith by repute, and a marvelous preacher, too.) Lord, give me the presence of mind as well as quickness of speech. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

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), 130.

Forgive Me—I Did Not Introduce You

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 19, 2015

autumn leaves on a bridge

Forgive Me—I Did Not Introduce You

Many of the prayers in this section are prayers of people from traditionally English-speaking countries. Or, prayers of Church Fathers and Mothers, prayers of Saints, translated into English. However, I am intrigued by those prayers that come from vastly different cultures, distant places, far removed from the sociological and cultural place I call “home.”

The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” (Prayer 355, page 109) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Penitence. It is titled “Prayer from Polynesia.”

“Lord, today You made us known to friends we did not know,/And You have given us seats in homes which are not our own./You have brought the distant near,/And made a brother of a stranger,/Forgive us, Lord … /We did not introduce You.”

O, how poignant and tear-filled! How deep the pain that is felt; it spills over into the endless emotional pit. Powerful emotions and feelings churn within me. Yet—and yet—positive feelings flow over some of these words like a waterfall.

Dear God, these words from half a world away wash against me. Sometimes quiet and affirming, but other times knowing, nudging, concerned as a dear grandparent. And, the last two lines of this prayer? Not shaming, not demeaning, no! But at the same time, instructive. Giving gentle counsel. Almost, entreating.

And, I received admonishment. Gentle, to be sure. But, sure and certain. I do not introduce You to others as much as I have the opportunity. I see that. This prayer holds up a clear mirror to me.

Forgive me, Lord. Please, gracious God. Look with both forgiveness and favor on this poor sinner. Thank You for Your help and patience. Help me to look with love on all others, to those who do not yet know You, and an extra portion of thankfulness on those who do.

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 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), 109.