Tag Archives: prayer and meditation

Be Careful How You Pray. An Introduction.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 4, 2015

experience prayer

Be Careful How You Pray. An Introduction.

I find I am fascinated by the book Inner Compass. This book is on Ignatian spirituality. And, it is also on prayer and how to orient ourselves to God.

Specifically on prayer, I love how St. Ignatius gives specific instruction in what to do. Margaret Silf also passes on the principles of Ignatian prayer. That is, a style of prayer and meditation that will deepen the pray-er’s understanding of God. One highlight that Ignatian prayer holds for me is lively use of the imagination. A close second stand-out is how reflective and deeply meaningful it can be.

My caution? Ignatian prayer can be slow and subtle. It can also be strong and sudden—just like my feelings. Not that this form of prayer isn’t unpredictable, but I would say surprising, instead.

I so want to dig deeply into Silf’s understanding of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; but I get the sudden feeling that this would be like jumping off the deep end of the pool. (Not unlike the way that I got into the Spiritual Exercises, ten years ago. But I digress.)

As an introduction, let me quote from the first chapter of Inner Compass: “When we open ourselves to God in prayer, we invite him to enter our Who center, bringing the gifts of the Spirit into the heart of our lived experience, with all its problems, pain, and sin.” [1]

St. Ignatius considered prayer very much a gift from God. When we enter into the adventure of prayer, what Silf calls our Who center [Who each of us is, deep down, inside] can be deeply triggered. Accessing that gift of prayer can split me wide open. Open to praise of God, yes. But open to problems, pain and sin, as well.

Be careful what you pray for, and how you pray, indeed. Especially using Ignatian prayer.

(To be continued!)

@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 sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 4.

To Feel, or Not To Feel? In Prayer.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 26, 2015

secret is simple--prayer

To Feel, or Not To Feel? In Prayer.

It’s just Jesus and me, on the mountaintop! Together, praying and meditating, walking, and sitting in silence together. I feel so close to the Lord, it’s just amazing!

Well . . . not always. Even, not often. But, yes, sometimes.

It’s true, I don’t feel the awesome, mighty, yet intimate presence of God quite all the time. I would be lying if I said that I did. It’s only been recently—and I mean less than two hundred years—that feelings in prayer have been trusted. In selected writings of the Pietists and in the First and Second Great Awakenings of the Church (in certain parts of the world), scattered people reported deep feelings in prayer and in the relationship with God. But not many.

As Rev. Howell tells his readers, Martin Luther warned that deep feeling in prayer might well be a trap, that the devil might be seducing us into something not of God. [1] This was a common statement or concern, for many centuries. On my part, I am heartily glad that feelings are not suspected to be temptations or traps any longer!

Looking at the whole subject of feelings from the other side, however, I can understand how being too dependent on feelings and intuition can get me into trouble. Too much emphasis on feelings can cloud logic and common sense. And, when feelings go too far into states of mind that are negative or harmful in any way (like chronic depression, severe anxiety, and the like), that’s when other believers in God can be helpful.

Isolation, deprivation or fasting, except for brief and measured periods of time, is not positive. What comes to mind is an acronym used in the addiction, substance abuse, and recovery fields: H-A-L-T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Any one of these states can be a concern. And two at once? An even bigger concern. These states can also trigger or heighten negative emotion, exacerbating a bad feeling (or situation) into something much worse. Suggestion: if and when you feel this way? Seek out mature believers, ministers, or others you can trust, and open up to them. And, if this negative feeling continues? Please, seek out professional help, even call 911.

So, yes, having deep feeling in prayer and in our relationship with God can be great! But, as Rev. Howell so perceptively said, “Jesus did not come so we could feel different, Jesus came so we could be different.” [2] Amen! Help me—help us—to stick close to You, God, no matter how we feel. No matter what our situation is. Amen, and amen!

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.

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 82.

[2] Ibid, 83.

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, October 9, 2014

FORGIVE forgiveness stone

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

Have you ever had one of those days—no, one of those weeks when you were so terribly busy that you didn’t even have time to turn around? That’s what my week looks like, this week.

What is high on my priority list, you ask? I am preparing for an exciting event! A presentation on the basics of prayer and meditation. During the past twenty years, I’ve led prayer events, transitioned into adult bible studies, and Sunday school classes for some years. I continued with more training, which led to preaching, group facilitation, presentations and lectures, and some articles. Now, I branch out with this particular presentation, integrating prayer and meditation with basic recovery principles. The time is counting down! Zero hour is fast approaching.

I currently serve as a pastor. Well and good. A busy work life there! I am also a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). In this latest presentation, I am striving to integrate what I know and have learned about prayer and meditation over the past decades with the wisdom found in the Twelve Steps of recovery.

All this is wonderful! I am doing innovative, edifying work! Praise the Lord! So . . . where’s the problem?

“Busy—busy—terribly busy!” That line from a Veggie Tales song is stuck in my head. I admit it. I am and I have been too busy to pray. It’s not that I haven’t prayed at all for days and days. No. I did find a half hour yesterday morning. But, that’s it for the week. And last week, too. I have not been faithful to my morning routine of over a year—and a hard-won routine it is, too! Ever since last September until last week, I have been praying at least five days a week. For at least half an hour. This is coming from a person who, for decades, had such difficulty finding regular times not only for prayer, but for spiritual disciplines of any kind! (Don’t just take my word for it. Ask my spiritual director of ten years, and my long-time therapist. They’ll tell you.)

I am fessing up, coming clean about my shortcomings. Forgive me, Lord. I know, You’ve heard me again and again, for years, coming to You repeatedly. Saying “I’m sorry,” with my face to the ground. I really meant it, practically every time. And, I really mean it again.

Let’s pray. Gracious God, dear Lord Jesus, You are lover of my soul. I have no other refuge than to seek Your face. Even when I forget to come to You, or get “too busy” to come to You, I know You are my only refuge, my true hope. Thank You for the plenteous grace that will, indeed, cover all my sin. Thank You, dear Lord, that I am invited to hide in You while the storms of life and the busy-ness of the moment fill my mind and clutch at my heart. Thank You for Your gracious, healing presence, now and always. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net