Tag Archives: prayer and meditation

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 16, 2019

rain on window, tree

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Father Gallagher did not shy away from presenting strong, deep emotions in this book. In the very first chapter, the very first personal story he brings to us relate some of these gut-wrenching emotions.

We hear more from K., a woman who suffered from a stroke some years ago. She had entered into a regular practice of Ignatian prayer and meditation. While on a retreat, she felt drawn to the passion and death of Jesus. She sat with that image, in that space, for hours. She was filled with compassion and terror as she tried to comfort Jesus in His passion. “She desires ‘to tell Him I was there for Him and that I would not leave Him alone.’ K. draws close to Jesus as she prays.” [1]

Her retreat director gently pointed out perhaps God was bringing together the experience of Jesus during His passion and death and her own, as she had experienced years before in her stroke and the long-term recovery from it.

K. then relates her return to prayer, and “scenes of my hospital stay after my stroke so many years before alternated with scenes of Jesus’ passion and death….I cried inconsolably for hours—seventeen years’ worth of tears. God was truly embracing me tightly and saying, ‘Do not be afraid even of this. I am holding you tightly and nothing can hurt you.’” [2]

How intense is this? In this time of prayer, K. allowed God to touch her deeply, in such a significant hurting place. Ever since her stroke, she had placed a certain internal part of herself at a distance from God. For years, even though she had a regular practice of prayer and meditation, K. had erected an internal barrier for protection.

I am so struck by this. What internal barriers have I erected? What messages of God do I ignore? Or, drown out? I can do this in so many ways. Work, relationships, activities, even busy-ness. Any or all of these can be distractions or excuses for allowing God into my life. Forgive me, dear Lord. Help me to desire You, to listen for Your voice and read Your Word. Thank You for loving me, and for drawing me close to You—even when I hold myself at a distance and erect barriers between You and me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my heartfelt 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] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 20.

[2] Ibid, 21.

More About Morning Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 26, 2017

sitting in park

More About Morning Meditation

A puzzlement: am I just convicted and disgruntled by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s injunction to pray and meditate first thing in the morning? Or, am I truly a night owl, able to find other times to meditate and pray during the day and even the night? Possibly, both.

Pastor Bonhoeffer might well have been a morning person. My mother was, too. She would wake up early every morning and think, make her lists, have coffee, and get ready for the day. (She was definitely not a Christian, but that is the matter for another post.) From what I understand, Martin Luther was a morning person, too. He was also a man of great prayer and meditation. And, yes. He would pray and meditate over Scripture in the morning, too.

How my heart yearns to get on board with Bonhoeffer when he says: “The morning must yield an hour of quiet time for prayer and common devotion. That is certainly not wasted time. How else could we prepare ourselves to face the tasks, cares, and temptations of the day?” [1]

Sure, I might be able to drag myself out of bed on occasion, and get involved with prayer and meditation first thing in the morning every once in a while, but I know my body. Faithless flesh and blood, it would scream out for more sleep. It would hit the snooze button on the alarm.

The principles of Scriptural prayer and meditation that Bonhoeffer sets out make such sense, though, especially given my job—my calling—as a minister? “How should we go about during the day as ministers of the Word, preaching and instructing, helping to carry the burdens of others, if we have not experienced God’s help for the day ourselves?” [2]

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me figure out this prayer piece in my life. Not only for my personal life with You, but also for my professional life. Yes, I know I have been coming to You for years now with variations on this same prayer. I still need Your help. I suspect other people need Your help in the same way, too. Dear God, 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), 30.

[2] Ibid, 31.

Challenge of Morning Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 22, 2017

sunrise over the mountains

Challenge of Morning Meditation

I am not a morning-kind-of-a-person. Yes, I can get up early in the morning. I have served as an overnight chaplain and had to be up at all hours. However, my deep desire and dear preference is one of sleeping in my bed. Getting a full night’s sleep.

In this new chapter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells the seminarians (from the secret seminary) about morning meditation and prayer. He not only sings the praises of regular meditation and prayer, but he also suggests ways in which those who meditate actually reach God.

“Every morning God gives us the gift of comprehending anew his faithfulness of old; thus, in the midst of our life with God, we may daily begin a new life with him.” [1]

Bonhoeffer gave a whole list of instances and examples in the Bible where prayer and meditation are specifically mentioned as taking place in the morning. “The people of faith woke early because of their expectation of God’s marvelous acts (Gen. 19:27, Ex. 24:4, Job 1:5). Sleep no longer holds them. They rush to greet the early grace of God.” [2]

The early grace of God…why do I not sync with this? Now, the grace of God that is up late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, that I do sync with. Somehow, I have problems in waking up early in the morning for meditation and prayer.

I know so many people who write books and articles about prayer, and almost all of them recommend prayer early in the morning. I am so sorry, God. I cannot seem to do this, even occasionally.

Dear God, thanks for loving me, and being patient with me.

@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), 29.

[2] Ibid.

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 23, 2017

candles-and-cross

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

As I read this short excerpt from How to Sit tonight,[1] I couldn’t help but be reminded of my chaplain internships. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of strong emotions, and how the regular practice of prayer and meditation helps many people manage their emotional state. In all of my chaplain internships, we were shown several helpful ways of dealing with strong emotions (which included prayer and meditation).

Sometimes, strong emotions can carry a person away, devastate them, send them to the heights of ecstasy, or infuriate them beyond all measure. Problem: how to manage yourself and your emotions if you have a really, really strong emotion going in with you? (Believe me, at times in my chaplain internships, as well as my work as a chaplain, I faced some wild, intense emotional situations.)

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the regular practice of prayer and meditation as a great help to remaining on an even keel, in situations with strong emotion. (I suspect this practice would be a bit easier for someone who had an affinity for quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer and meditation.) I have experienced this firsthand. I know how valuable deep breathing can be, as well as the use of meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to the helpful nature of regular, concerted prayer, for myself, my family or friends, or in intercession for the loved one of someone who asks me for prayer.

My chaplain internships were so worthwhile. (As is my practice of prayer and meditation.) God, thank You for providing such opportunities for me to learn about these wonderful practices. Each and every one. Lord, in Your mercies, hear 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 72-73.

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 6, 2017

 

happiness-in-sand

Joy and Happiness in Prayer?

What an outrageous thought—feeling joy and happiness while praying. Or…is it?

Not according to the author of How to Sit, Buddhist monk and meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The way he talks about it, feeling joy and happiness is a natural outgrowth of regularly practicing meditation and prayer.

All I know is I am able to tap into calmness and (even) serenity sometimes when I pray and meditate, now. Sure, I still have regular bouts with fear and anxiety. I can’t imagine a single person who does not. Welcome to the human condition. However, I am able to calm down that fear and anxiety, and more often than not relax into calmness, slowed breathing, and legitimate peace of mind. Really. Really and truly.

Now, going the next step and feeling joy and happiness, on a regular basis? Not so much.

As How to Sit says, relaxing and calming the body is a wonderful thing to do. Except, he connects being relaxed and calm with experiencing joy and happiness. [1] This is a challenging next step for me to do.

As this page mentions, “Countless people bounce around like yo-yos in their busy lives and never have the chance to taste this joy.” [2] However, I can take heart in the fact that I don’t have hours each day to sit in prayer and meditation, since “a few moments of sitting and conscious breathing can bring great happiness.”

Contentment? Peace? Certainly. I’ve experienced it. But, happiness and joy? I guess I’ll have to keep practicing until I do. That’s okay. I have a great love for these practices. So awesome! I guess there is always something more to learn. Again, that is perfectly okay.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thanks for bringing this reading to my attention. Thanks to our author, and much appreciation for his offer of support and encouragement. Thank you! And, go, us!

 

 

 

@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), 51.

[2] Ibid.

Prayer. Meditation. Wisdom.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 22, 2017

water-lilies-mindful

Prayer. Meditation. Wisdom.

I still have difficulty praying and meditating on a regular basis. Yes, I have had this blog for many months. I strove to be faithful in prayer and meditation for many years before. (Lord, You know I have.) And still, I struggle.

Yet, when I do pray and meditate—on occasion—I can feel the peace and serenity of God come into my heart and mind. Marvelous feeling! (Even when I do not feel the sense of the presence of God surrounding me, much.)

Plus, every now and then, I gain insight, or wisdom, from the prayer and meditation. Every now and then, I find I have discernment that I did not previously realize was there.

See, when we pray and meditate, sometimes long-held internal ideas of resentment, fear, anger, despair and hatred are quietly transformed. In some cases, relationships with other people and with nature can be transformed, too.

When I become aware of this—this discernment, this wisdom beyond myself, I am filled with wonder. How amazing that negative ideas and qualities can quietly transform. As I continue with the prayer and meditation on a regular basis, positive things begin happening on the inside. As teacher Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us, “As we become freer and happier, we cease to act in ways that make others suffer, and we are able to bring about change in ourselves and help others around us.” [1]

God willing, may I become more and more positive. May my mind become more in line with the way Jesus would view my thinking. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 34.

 

In Which I Take Advice. Or Not.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, November 13, 2015

sunset footprints

In Which I Take Advice. Or Not.

This daily meditation and prayer book, Keep It Simple, really hits me between the eyes, sometimes. Like today, for example.

This book is written to help alcoholics and addicts in recovery. Each of the twelve months of the year has a different focus. Since November is the eleventh month, we reflect and meditate on Step Eleven from the Twelve Steps of recovery. (Step Eleven is: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”)

Back to today’s reading. It is all about learning things the hard way.

I come from a family of extremely stubborn people. I am stubborn. I am married to a stubborn person, and his family is extremely stubborn. I have stubbornness all around me. Yet—this reading lets me know that taking advice is a good thing. Beneficial, positive.

I am also reminded of the recovery definition of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Sure, I can be extremely stubborn. I can go my own way, not listening to anyone. Not following anyone’s advice. And, I can lose opportunities. I can lose friends. I can lose work. I can lose all kinds of things and relationships.

But the other side of advice is this: “We don’t have to use [the advice we get.] But if it comes from people who love and understand us, we can try to listen.” [1]

Dear Lord, gracious God, I am trying to listen to You, each and every day. Help me listen. Help me hear clearly. And, help me help others to listen, too.

In Jesus’s name we 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] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 13 reading.