Tag Archives: praise

Prayer? Of Petition.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 26, 2018

immeasurable prayer power

Prayer? Of Petition.

I often pray prayers of petition. Honestly, I do. I know I “shouldn’t” pray these asking-for-things kinds of prayers, but that’s okay.

(“Shouldn’t,” according to whom? Seriously!)

According to certain people, prayers of petition are not as deserving of the title of “prayer” as prayers of praise. Frankly and personally, I consider this attitude nonsense. So what if I am “trying” to get something for myself? If I make a request of God, I am communicating with God, just as much as if I were making a prayer of praise to God.

Apparently, prayers of thanksgiving are supposed to be more “worthy” of the name of prayer than prayers of petition. And, prayers of praise are totally directed to God, and are therefore the most “worthy” kind of prayer.

All of this sounds awfully legalistic and Pharisaic to me. But, I am just a mere person, not even designated with the title of “theologian” or anything. What does Father Nouwen have to say about this? “The important thing about prayer is not whether it is classified as petition, thanksgiving, or praise, but whether it is a prayer of hope or of little faith.” [1]

Father Nouwen is right when he mentions that the prayer of little faith “is filled with wishes which beg for immediate fulfillment. This kind of prayer has a Santa Claus naivete and wants the direct satisfaction of very specific wishes and desires.” [2]

Yes, I can see why God would not be that wild about such Santa-Claus-prayers. But, when someone is afraid or shy or very young or even filled with naivete, what other kind of prayers are they expected to pray? (Just asking.)

Dear Lord, gracious God, forgive me when I pray those Santa-Claus-prayers. I know I do it, sometimes. When You hear those kinds of prayers, thank You for honoring them—sometimes. Thank You for being a loving Heavenly Parent (which You totally are), telling Your children that You love them, regardless of the prayers of praise, thanksgiving, or petition that they bring to You. Thank You so much, Loving God.



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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 68.

[2] Ibid.

Thanks and Praise, and Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 16, 2017

Psa 119-7 praise You, words

Thanks and Praise, and Psalm 119

Dietrich Bonhoeffer certainly has a way of coming straight to the point. In this series of meditations and commentary on the beginnings of Psalm 119, he does not pull punches. Regarding 119:7 –

I will thank You with an unfeigned heart,

when I have learned Your righteous judgments.

Bonhoeffer begins, “How could one begin to give thanks to God and not concern oneself with His Word? What kind of thanks would be to receive the gifts but refuse the required obedience to the giver?” [1] How, indeed?

As Pastor Dietrich insists, we need to be immersed in the study of the divine Word. It is only in this way that we begin to understand what God wishes, how best to walk in God’s ways, and how to treat others as God would treat them.

It is after we have learned (or, are continuing to learn) God’s righteous judgments that we can come to God in thanksgiving. However, Bonhoeffer is quick to point out that “the thanksgiving of the world refers always to the self…. By giving thanks, one gains the satisfaction of feeling that the gifts received are now one’s rightful possession.” [2] How wrong-headed! What a way to self-inflate and self-delude.

Instead, we are to give thanks to God because we want to learn and know the things God has for us to do, and the ways in which God wants us to walk. Yes, we are still learning. Hopefully, you and I will continue to learn until life’s end. What a continuing road that is laid out, the road God has planned for us, aiding us to experience the righteousness God intends for each of us.

Dear God, thank You for the directions You have put in Your Word. Help me—help us to follow You more nearly and love You more dearly through regular study of the Bible. As Pastor Dietrich instructs us, help us to immerse ourselves in Your Word. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.



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, 110.

[2] Ibid, 111.

Pray and Praise for Young People

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 29, 2016

PRAY don't worry, through prayer to God Phil 4-6

Pray and Praise for Young People

Today was a wonderful end to the New Wilmington Mission Conference. Between wrapping up a mission perspective on the Lord’s Prayer, saying good-bye all day to people I see once a year, and finishing the evening listening to the Summer Service team, the day was jam-packed.

Fascinating how the Lord’s Prayer is almost always applicable. Even in a mission and outreach sense. Or, should I say, especially in such a sense?

I know many attendees from this conference. We were reminded at evening meeting that many, many people were praying for the Summer Service team as they spent a number of weeks abroad, immersing themselves in a different culture, different language, and different society.

The team spoke separately tonight, telling a bit about their trip, their encounters, and their reactions to what they experienced.

I praise God for these young people.

I pray that they might carry the encounters and experiences of their time away close to their hearts. I ask for clarity as each one makes decisions about the next thing for them to do. Dear God, I pray for those responsible for next year’s mission conference and service. Missionary God, You are not willing that any perish. Draw people to You. Help each person who was in attendance this week to be energized and empowered to tell others about You. About how much You love them, and even to the ends of the earth. 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 #PursuePEACE.  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

What God Thinks is Important!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 19, 2015

open gate in stone wall

What God Thinks is Important!

How on earth does someone sift through the many, multifaceted activities of their day?

A great deal of things happen to me every day. Little things, big things, trivial stuff, important stuff: all kinds of events and happenings, each day. Sometimes, I can’t even begin to remember all of the stuff that went on in one particular day. And a few times—more recently—next to nothing happened to me. At all. But, that isn’t as often.

How do I sort through my day, at the end of the day, when it’s so chock full of stuff? How can I sift through the happenings and find those things that almost highlight themselves? I know very well how important a regular inventory is, by this time. I’ve done it for years, on a regular basis.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the practice (found in Ignatian spirituality and prayer), this is one step in the Daily Examen. A practice we’ve been looking at for the past few days on this blog. The short, simple steps I am detailing, one at a time, are a straight-forward presentation of how to practice St. Ignatius’ daily examination of oneself. I consider this step to be especially helpful. For me, right now.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.” [1]

I thank God for the ability to take stock, to go the extra step and look over my daily activities. And—a significant thing about this activity is that God shows up! God directs me as I look at my day. Sometimes, I become even more aware of God’s presence with me, moment by moment.

Thanks, God. I needed that.


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 sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray

A Canticle of Praise and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 5, 2015

Pillars of Creation  photo credit - NASA - European Space Agency  Hubble Space Telescope

Pillars of Creation
photo credit – NASA – European Space Agency
Hubble Space Telescope

A Canticle of Praise and Prayer

For those of you following at home, here is an update on Bella, the sweet girl who is the daughter of a friend of the office manager at my church. She had an operation on a brain tumor yesterday. The lab results are in: benign! Bella is aware, responsive and smiling! Thanks be to God. Now the rehab and recovery. Thanks so much for prayers and good thoughts.

I thought today’s prayer suggestion from the book Prayer and Temperament was so appropriate, given today’s situation. The suggestion was to read Daniel 3:26-90, meditate and pray on it, and write my own canticle of praise to God as a response. (Yes, I know Daniel 3:26-90 is only found in Catholic editions of the Bible. The book I am using as a prayer guide for these two weeks before Lent begins is co-written by a Catholic priest.)

While giving God thanks and praise for God’s encouragement, comfort and support for Bella and her family at this serious time, I want to follow the prayer suggestion, as written.

This canticle from Daniel has a great deal to say about the natural world. I don’t usually think about the wide world, and what it contains. But—didn’t God make the world, too? (Rhetorical question.) Yes, I can look at this prayer suggestion in the light of an “assignment.” Or, it can focus my gaze on the glories of God’s creation. Not being much in the habit of writing out my prayers, I thought this was an excellent idea! Here goes.

Praise be to the God of creation, the One who spoke and the world came to be.

Let the four-footed ones make merry! Let the winged ones flap together!

Let sea creatures glide, insects buzz, reptiles hiss—all lift praise together!

Praise be to the God of all creatures, the One who called all things good.

Let the forest and field lift their leaves! Let the wastelands and wetlands rejoice!

Let rocks and rubble roar, sand and cinders sigh aloud—all lift praise to You, God!

Praise be to the God of inventive ingenuity, of endless creativity!

Let the creative sense within mortals give praise! Let both intellect and emotion rejoice!

Let community and crowd, families and folks all lift praise with many voices!

Praise be to the God of earth and sky, of sea and dry land, the One who is over all!

Praise be to the God who brought order out of chaos, the One who made me and you.

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.

Coming to God with My Wounds—in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 24, 2015

stormy ocean

Coming to God with My Wounds—in Prayer

I am faithfully, even obediently reading the next chapter in my trusty prayer guide. I find “Wounds” is the topic of today’s chapter. Yes, I can immediately relate to the expressions I find Rev. Howell uses, the examples he gives from Henri Nouwen and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Sure, I find I can easily identify, and not just compare.

But, Lord Jesus, I find myself skidding to a mental stop when I come across an excerpt from Isaiah 53. These words bring tears to my eyes, yes! But, I cannot relate to them very well at all. Not in the sense that You actually experienced them. Your incredible suffering, pain and anguish during the time of Your passion and death are too distant for me to consider. (Very often, that is.)

But Psalms? Ah, yes. Psalms are much more accessible. More identifiable. I see the raw emotion, desperate grief and longing, and ecstatic praises written in the Psalms. Those difficulties and agonies in my life? As Bonhoeffer mentioned, I can surely cast my cares upon God, because God alone knows how to handle suffering.[1] Praying the Psalms can help me in my effort to try to give God my agony, grief and suffering, as well as my joys, praise and delight.

Dear Lord Jesus, perhaps I can see Your suffering as making You real. Real to me, anyway. You suffered in order to feel with us. Not to remain remote, light years away from us humans. I know, that’s part of the reason for the Incarnation, for You being born and a growing up a child in a human family.

I read in Isaiah that You have borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Please, dear Lord, impress this on my consciousness, especially as we are going to commemorate this once more on Ash Wednesday, in just a few weeks. (Much less the penitential season of Lent, culminating in the Passion Week and Good Friday.)

Please, God, help me come before You faithfully, even though I don’t understand—much. Help all of us. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

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] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1970), 48.

Praying When Scared Silly

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, July 10, 2014

don't worry about tomorrow--trust

Praying When Scared Silly

I had an oral surgery procedure earlier this week. Yes, most of my friends and even my husband let me know that this extraction was nothing to worry about. Piece of cake! Even though there was some infection around the base of the tooth, it wasn’t complicated. Gee, when I went to see my oral surgeon last week, even he told me it was basic and routine.

So, why was I scared to death?

I know, I know. My husband tried to allay my fears. (He is fearful of dental procedures, himself.) He told me how far advanced dentistry has come, since he and I were small. He told me about the great staff in the oral surgeon’s office, and how our surgeon was a master at his craft.

But I was still shaking. Frightened, on a deep, fundamental level.

As I said in my other blog (A Year of Being Kind), I did not take care of my teeth when I was small. I also ate a lot of sweets. So, by the time I hit kindergarten, I had a number of small cavities in my teeth. I would not sit still for the dentist my parents used. So, my parents sent me to a special dentist. He was special, all right! He was downright cruel. He held my jaw in a deathgrip, and had the most piercing eyes of anyone I had ever seen in real life. Through the sheer force of his will, plus a healthy dose of sadism, he was able to fill the cavities.

He also scarred me for life. However, for that reason, I understood where I could go for help. I fled to the fellowship of other believers in prayer. I spoke up about my dental anxiety, and asked for prayer. Nay, even begged for prayer.

Yes, my prayers for my anxiety and fear did have more than a touch of the foxhole prayer in them. True enough. And I think God was right there with me. Helping me. Allaying my fears, all the time I was in the dentist’s chair for that procedure. Yes, I used breathing. Mindfulness practices. Relaxation techniques. And, I was surprised. They did indeed work.

Now that I’m on the other side of that procedure, I feel much better about things. I would even have significantly less fear, if I needed to have more oral surgery. (But that is not an invitation. Please, God, NO more. At least, not for a long time!)

And, I would like to send out sincere thanks and praise for everyone who prayed for me. Let’s pray right now. Dear Lord, Gracious God, You are always with me. Even through the dark valley, You stay right by my side. Even under the bright lights of a surgical procedure, You allay my fears. Thank You for your constant presence. Thank You for being right next to me, even when it seems like You are so far away. In gratitude and praise, amen!


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Christmas Music for Everyone

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, December 14, 2013

I hear Christmas music on the cd player as I write this. Choral, a capella. Complex chords and harmonies. These aspects of the music make my heart sing. The winning combination of beautiful music and meaningful words helps my heart to worship, too.

Since I am a classically trained musician and have a bachelor’s degree in church music, music has been and still is an important feature of my life. My avocation and my deep joy, as well as an aid to worship. Sometimes music can bring me to tears, and the next minute can lead me to worship and praise. Especially at this time of year.

A great deal of Christmas music was written with the church in mind, or at least, based on the Gospel accounts in Luke and Matthew. (I know there are some fun songs, secular songs, but I’d like to focus instead on the sacred music.) Composers and songwriters in many diverse cultures have tried their hands at writing Christmas music—and Advent music, too. Diverse songs like “Lo, How A Rose E’re Blooming” (German, Michael Praetorius, 1609) to “The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy” (Traditional West Indian Carol, popularized by Harry Belafonte in 1958).

Different cultures portray the Holy Family in contexts that are familiar to them, too. Many people are familiar with the olive wood nativity scenes, carved by Palestinian Christians and imported all over the world today. But I’ve also seen a Kenyan nativity set with animals native to the Kenya bush. And a Peruvian nativity with everyone dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. And—to me—the familiar Advent calendars with the northern European features.

One more recent Christmas carol comes from the mid 20th century. The words by Wihla Hutson evoke the differences in how children all over the world see the baby Jesus. “Lily white,” “bronzed and brown,” “almond-eyed,” “dark as they.” The Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. He was born into this world to identify with us. And we can identify with Him, just as much.

This Advent period is a period of waiting for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. However we may see Him, however the Holy Family is presented in our culture or setting or church tradition, we are to wait with eagerness. With quiet and prayer. With expectation in our hearts. And in one of my favorite ways, with music to assist us in this waiting time.

Let’s pray. Dear God, Gracious Lord, this Advent waiting time is a time of expectation, but it’s also a time of preparation. Help me to prepare my heart to receive You. Forgive me for closing the door on others who don’t see You in the same way as I see You. Forgive me for being so narrow-minded and thoughtless. Thank You that You came into this world for everyone. For each child, for each adult, for each senior. Help me to look on those who are different from me with Your eyes. Emmanuel, God with us, all of us. Thank You, Jesus.