Tag Archives: practice

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 7, 2017

Psa 62 word cloud

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Have you ever wondered about young pastors—or ministers? Still in training, some pastors need time to practice their craft. In some churches (and seminaries), a pastor-in-training is called an intern, or student pastor. The typical job of a pastor is multi-faceted, and a person sometimes is not fully skilled at every aspect of the pastorate until some years have passed.

Just so with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training for a number of months. While serving as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona, he preached this particular sermon on Psalm 62. The psalmist in verse 1 calls for a time of silence before prayer and meditation: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” And Bonhoeffer paraphrases: “Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.” [1]

Sure, Bonhoeffer had definite ideas about meditation and how much scripture means to be practicing both prayer and meditation. “Being silent means unable to say anything more; it means that a strange but dear hand has placed itself upon our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally—capitulating to the overwhelming power of the Other.” [2]

Even at this early date in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, this sermon shows how an assembly of men and women can be ready for in depth learning. “To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively, and be ready to obey.” [3]

Dear Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice. We want to go a long way with You today. Help me to sit with You, walk with You, and follow in the way You want me to walk. Dear 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

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 49.

[3] Ibid.

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.

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 21, 2017

piano-hand-sketch

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

I am not the best at practicing. When I was young, my parents had me study piano. I had to practice. Sadly for me, I was not particularly diligent at regular practicing several time a week between lessons. (Otherwise I would have been much better at playing, at a young age.)

I would skip days, forget to sit down at the piano, and the week would slip by. I would often find myself the day before my lesson, not having practiced at all during that week. Frantic, I would do what I could on that one day. I did progress, even though I was not diligent. What’s more, I truly enjoyed playing the piano—and still do.

I was reminded vividly of this experience with piano practice as I read the short section for today. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh talks about sitting in meditation and prayer as a luxury. Imagine that! “In our time, in our civilization, sitting and doing nothing is considered either to be a luxury or a waste of time.” [1]

Yes, it is a practice. We need to practice at it. And as I do, I have found that (usually) prayer and meditation becomes easier. Or, more natural. Or, more a part of me—an integral part. Just like piano practice became easier the more I did it, it is similar with this prayer practice.

Why is it that piano practice is still not the first thing on my mind, even though I intellectually understand the benefits? Probably has something to do with my prayer practice. Even though I also realize that a regular time of prayer and meditation would be marvelous for me and my spiritual life, I am afraid I am less than diligent.

God, You know. We have had this discussion a number of times in the past. Thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for loving me. Help me to be more diligent in practice—in both areas. My piano, and my prayer and meditation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my 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

[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 68.

Benefits of Prayer Practice

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-ps-46-1Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

Benefits of Prayer Practice

When I practice being aware of my breathing, I automatically begin to relax. I find myself breathing intentionally, and I move more slowly and deeply.

These are all good, beneficial things.

The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh lists several additional, positive things that he sees happen as a result of breathing, meditation and prayer. “Sitting and breathing mindfully brings four important elements into our lives: peace, clarity, compassion, and courage.” [1]

The teacher doesn’t touch too much on either peace or clarity in this reading, but he does mention compassion and courage. I had actually connected compassion with prayer, and loving, outward acts as outgrowths or expressions of concerted meditation and prayer. However, I had not thought about the way courage is also highlighted through prayer and meditation.

Thich Nhat Hanh equates mercy and compassion towards others with a compassion toward myself. He claims (with some validity) that a healthy sense of compassion and care for others translates into the capacity to think, speak and act in a similarly compassionate way toward myself. (And, this capacity does indeed cut through a great deal of red tape.)

The teacher has highlighted a fascinating cause-and-effect relationship. Something for all of us to be concerned about and aware of. Dear God, thank You for helping me to be aware, too.

@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), 66.

Look Deeply. Pray. Meditate.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, January 18, 2017

lily-and-lily-pads-mindful

Look Deeply. Pray. Meditate.

When I think about meditation and mindfulness now, my breath automatically starts to slow down. I don’t necessarily have to begin the practice of mindful meditation and prayer. It often just starts to happen.

Yet, this is not the only thing that happens during meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh had some excellent insights in the small section of the book I read tonight, including where he talked about the practice of meditation giving us the opportunity to heal and transform.[1] I don’t know about you, but I particularly need the chance to heal and transform. I often feel broken and hurting. When I am offered the possibility of healing and transformation, I’d be foolish not to take it!

Slowing down, slowing my breathing, stretching my neck, back and shoulders—all of these are so helpful to my relaxation. Preparation for a time of prayer, of healing and transformation. And then, even if I quiet myself for just a few minutes, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Finally, as I enter into that quiet place of mindful meditation, I also have the opportunity to see clearly. To look deeply into what surrounds me on the outside as well as what is inside of me. This does not completely banish fear and anxiety, but it certainly diminishes it. Anything that lessens fear and anxiety is definitely something I support. And, mindful meditation certainly does that.

Thank You, God, for this spiritual practice. Thank You for leading me to it, and giving me the opportunity to practice prayer and mindful meditation. 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), 31.

God Our Advocate. Centering Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ADVOCATE 1 John 2-1 KJV

God Our Advocate. Centering Prayer.

I used Centering Prayer today! I also prayed in ways with words, especially since I was doing intercessory prayer. As a small church pastor, I have regular circumstances come up where I need to focus specifically on parishioners, friends of the church, and other situations. In other words, I spent some time with God today, in prayer.

As mentioned yesterday, for the month of September, I will choose a name of God found in the Bible. I’m using that for my word of the day. My word—Name of God for today is Advocate.

When I centered with this Name of God, I did not have long to wait before two words surfaced. “Righteous” and “peace.” I am not sure how these words apply to me yet. I’ll keep ruminating over them. If I find out, great. If I don’t, then that’s okay, too. They are two excellent words that came into my mind.

I am purposefully not looking up the verse I cite before doing Centering Prayer. I want to be true to the concept of using one word and sitting with it. Ruminating on it, and rolling it around in my mind. Seeing whether it will resonate. It is only afterwards that I looked up the passage, and discovered further depths to this Name of God.

As found in 1 John 2:1, the Apostle John tells his readers they have an Advocate in heaven: Jesus Christ the Righteous One. Just in case anyone happens to sin, we have someone who will speak in our defense and on our behalf. (Excuse my levity. Of course everyone sins. We are all human.)

Oh, another thing that surfaced on the rolling video screen of my mind as I contemplated the word Advocate? Different scenes from two different Joss Whedon television shows. More random stuff. I’m used to that sort of thing when I ruminate and contemplate, though. It’s difficult for me to get my mind to calm down. However, with practice, it gets better. Watching that internal mental video screen can also be fascinating. The wide-ranging internal connections and word association football going on in my mind, I mean.

God, thanks for this great word association, today. Thank You for being my Advocate. I know I need it, on a regular basis.

@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

Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, April 28, 2014

Luther plan to pray three hours

Praying for Myself? Praying for Others, Too.

I had a good deal to do today. A brief article, finished in less than an hour, I am proud and glad to say. I had several meetings, did some computer work, and then some more research. And finally, yoga! (Boy, did I need my gentle yoga class! The best. Especially my teacher! But I won’t fangirl overmuch now.)

I did not take my usual time in the morning to pray, though. I tossed and turned last night, and so got only about four hours of sleep—all told. With the little naps in between times, and everything. Yup. About four hours. However, I did snatch a few minutes her and a few moments there, in the midst of everything that happened today.

How I missed my time of prayer this morning!

I find myself agreeing with Martin Luther, with the principle about prayer. Such a marvelous quote! Except, I cannot spend three hours in prayer, straight, at one time. Forgive me, Martin! And especially, forgive me, God! Sure, I can do a half hour now, fairly easily. But I’m not in the major leagues yet, nor do I expect to be any time soon. However, I am grateful that I am able to spend a half hour at a time with God now, on a regular basis. And I suspect God is happy, too!

Let’s pray. Dear God, I stand in awe at people like Martin Luther. His capacity for and practice of prayer? Awesome! Dear God, help me to learn to pray more, better, and more faithfully. Encourage our hearts and help us as we are all on this road to a closer walk with You. In the name of Your risen Son, we pray all of these things. Alleluia, amen!

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: