Tag Archives: prayer suggestion

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.

Practical Prayers of Agnes Sanford

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

healing prayer for you

Practical Prayers of Agnes Sanford

When I hear about (or, read about) someone who prays like Agnes Sanford, I tend to be skeptical—a bit. I also hope against hope that her example in healing prayer could be true. I must admit that I do not have lots of faith. A bit of faith, yes. Sometimes, even more than a bit. But, there are times when I say with the man who came to Jesus, “Help my unbelief!”

In the case of Agnes Sanford, I have to take the word of Richard Foster. He gave witness to the fact that he sat and learned how to pray from Agnes, many times. (And, I respect Richard Foster more than I can say.)

How scary to pray, and have God’s power in our words—that’s the Almighty God, who made heaven and earth, who created life and love on a cosmic scale. Yet, that is exactly what we do and say when we pray.

At first, we have the suggestion of praying for a simple, tangible thing first, such as relief from worry, or finding something lost, or the return to health of someone who is sick. As Ms. Sanford said, “How strange it is that people who fear to do this do not hesitate to pray for the most difficult objectives of all, such as the peace of the world or the salvation of their souls!” [1]

So right. Such an odd thing, to have little confidence in God in prayer: “if they have such confidence…that they do not dare to test their powers of contacting God by praying for an easy thing, it is probable that their cosmic intercessions are of little force.” [2]

Ooo. That hits home. That hurts, Ms. Sanford.

Dear Lord, gracious God, help me to have faith like Agnes Sanford. (Or, at least more faith than I do currently.) Thank You for Ms. Sanford’s excellent example, and grant that many may learn from her books and writings. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 39.

[2] Ibid.

Reading, Pondering, Yearning as I Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 17, 2015

moonrise over hills

Reading, Pondering, Yearning as I Pray

I have come to the last prayer suggestion from the book Prayer and Temperament (Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types). At least, the last suggestion for one particular personality preference. This suggestion is—yet again—a challenge to me. Not because I dislike the poem mentioned—by no means! However, the poem is lengthy. And takes some pondering.

“The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson was the poem assigned for today. Yes, I have read this before, several times. But I haven’t read it for a few years, at least ten, if I remember correctly. Let me say that I reacted to this strongly. Because of my personal theological point of view as well as from my deep feelings from this first stanza, I was strongly moved. Yes, God is pursuing me. Not only in my external wanderings in life, but as I make my internal, labyrinthine travels, too.

Not only do I find that the imagery hits me deep, but the loveliness of the words draws me in. “In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.” And, I yearn over these words. These ideas, phrased in such winsome ways.

And yet, the relentless words keep up their march. “I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years–/My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap./My days have crackled and gone up in smoke.” I read these words, and tears come to my eyes.

“And is thy Earth so marred,/Shattered in shard on shard?/Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.” Beauty, words. You call to my heart; it delights in the rhythms and flows. And at last, “I am He (She?) who thou seekest.” Ah! Home at last! Or, is it that the Hound has reached its quarry?


I feel the words of this poem, down to my bones. Yes, it causes me to pray, to contemplate, to lift my voice/my heart in praise to God.

Thank you, gracious authors, for these prayer suggestions I’ve used during these past two weeks.

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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 16, 2015

snowy woods with sun

Praying as I Read a Hymn

Ever read the verses of a hymn and find yourself struck by the vivid imagery? Or amazed by the descriptive words used by the lyricist? Today’s prayer suggestion wanted me to read through a hymn composed by Cardinal Newman in the mid 1800’s, “Lead, Kindly Light.”

This is not my first time reading the words to hymns in prayer. A number of times I read the words of lyricist Isaac Watts and his brilliant paraphrases of Scripture, some years ago. I was struck by how, with the smallest turn of phrase, Watts could make the words of the Bible come to life. So many hymns of the 1700’s and 1800’s have words that hit me in the core of my being; make me lift my voice in praise, or cover my face in fear. (Unlike simplistic lyrics of certain praise songs today . . . but I digress.)

“Lead, Kindly Light.” I immediately could relate to the first verse! “The night is dark, and I am far from home.” That brought me into the experience of the lyricist. I knew what it was like to be wandering in the midst of a dark night. I, too, trod on dark paths, a long distance from my safe, warm bed.

The last verse, as is true with so many hymn lyrics, talks about coming home. Yet, this home Newman speaks of is not our earthly home, but home to heaven. And, I can easily think of myself as a child, especially in the arms of my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. Being carried close and led by the hand. I can remember doing the same thing when my children were small, too. Good memories!

Dear Lord, help me see through these worldly or careworn things, as Cardinal Newman could. As I read this hymn, give me fresh understanding. Not only to lift praise to You as I read, but also to be able to feel with others as they go through their places of dark night, far from home. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

“Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path,
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.”

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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Praying as I Listen to Music

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, February 15, 2015

pen and ink portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven

pen and ink portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven

Praying as I Listen to Music

When some people listen to beautiful music, their response is, “How lovely!” This is usually said while they sigh in contentment. Listening to music can be a wonderful, even prayerful experience.

After Pope Pius XII received the Sacrament of the Sick shortly before his death, he requested to hear the third movement of the Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. He wanted to die hearing this peaceful, lyrical movement. How wonderful, being able to script the soundtrack of one’s own life—or, death, as in the case of Pope Pius XII.

This was my prayer suggestion for today. To listen to this beautiful piece of music, and write a reflection on it, afterwards.

This suggestion was right up my alley! Of course, the two authors of this book had no idea that I have a degree in church music, so I am more than adequately conversant with the music of Beethoven. A wonderful composer, and one of my top ten composers of all time. (Of classical music, anyway.) Accordingly, I did listen to it. And, I was calmed from my experience of hearing this peaceful music. I did not use many words, but I felt prayerful and at peace deep within as I sat in reflection, meditation and prayer.

I found myself getting in touch with a God who is so loving and so creative that my Higher Power has arms stretched wide open! And, that is always something for me to be reminded of. Thank You, dear Lord!


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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Praying through Action—an Act of Consolation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 14, 2015

vintage Valentine pink hearts

Praying through Action—an Act of Consolation

What a prayer suggestion for Valentine’s Day! Lo and behold, another surprise. My prayer suggestion for the day was to write a note of consolation and support for someone who has lost a dear one in death or is presently suffering some tragedy in their life, and let them know that God loves them. My goodness . . . not exactly a cheery thing to do on Valentine’s Day.

A dear person immediately came to my mind. I had purchased several cheery Valentine’s Day cards yesterday for several lonely people. Accordingly (I peeked at today’s suggestion a day ahead of time), I also chose a card for this dear one. A number of months have passed since my friend lost a close relative to serious illness. I had been thinking about this dear one several times in the past week or so, and I knew without a doubt that this was why I had been mentally nudged. Because I needed to write this card.

I’ve served as a chaplain for most of the last ten years. I know that significant holidays sometimes are poignant reminders of recent deaths. Even, not-so-recent deaths. Valentine’s Day might not seem so significant at first . . . but if you think about it, you might change your mind.

Consider an elderly parent who—without fail—sends their adult children a sweet Valentine’s Day remembrance each year. Until they are gone. Or, think of a significant other or spouse who remembers their loved one with a romantic Valentine card each February 14th. Until they can’t any longer. Or, what about a growing child, become a young adult, sending their parents a loving Valentine’s Day card wherever they are, in whatever part of the country they happen to be. Until they have an untimely death.

So, I wrote a cheery, thoughtful note on this pretty Valentine’s Day card I bought yesterday. And, I closed with the reminder that God is caring for this dear one and keeping them safe within God’s loving, everlasting embrace.

Dear Lord, please be with all who mourn today, and all those who are missing someone near and dear to their hearts. Extend Your arms of comfort, care and encouragement to all of these dear people, today. Including several of my friends, Lord. In Your mercy, hear all of our prayers. Amen.

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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Praying through Doing—an Act of Kindness

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

valentine plate of cookies

Praying through Doing—an Act of Kindness

Another day, another surprise. My prayer suggestion for the day was to make contact with a sick or old person in a home or residence, and let them know that God loves them.

All right. I know a number of nursing homes or senior residences. All of the senior residences I’m familiar with have chaplains and people who regularly visit and are in touch with the seniors who live there. Thank God for these caring, friendly people who watch out for the seniors!

However, I also know of another kind of residence, for people of all ages who have limited incomes. One of my friends recently retired from the residence, so he knows all of the people who live there. A few of these are people who truly have no one else in their lives. Just the single room in the residence, a small stipend or retirement payment, and no other relatives. None.

I asked my friend for a few names of those who are alone and lonely. Sure enough, he came through. He gave me two names. It being February 13, I went to the store and bought two nice, cheery Valentine’s Day cards. I wrote out a friendly greeting to both people, and closed with, “God loves you very much. All of God’s blessings be with you today!” I addressed both cards, and dropped them off with the employee in the residence foyer.

Since I have a number of siblings and children, and my husband has some close relatives, too, I have absolutely no idea what it would be like to have no one. No person to care whether I was sick or in the hospital, or even whether I lived or died. Upon serious reflection, I am glad I wrote those cards.

I know this is a lovey-dovey weekend, a time for hearts and flowers, a time for romance and closeness. But it is also a weekend when people who do not have a significant other or family or even friends to wish them a happy Valentine’s Day could be quite sad. Lonelier than usual. Down in the dumps. Even, depressed. My suggestion? Write them a note. Send them a card. Pay a visit and give them a little Valentine cupcake. Or candy heart. Or small flowering plant, if their diet is restricted. Spread the sunshine!

And, don’t forget to tell them: “God loves you very much. All of God’s blessings be with you today!”

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.

Act of Charity—Carried Out

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 12, 2015

encouraging word cloud

Act of Charity—Carried Out

I was a little surprised by the prayer suggestion for today. It’s an action, not necessarily a prayer. Well, sort of both. I’ve been told I have some of the gift of encouragement. I sure used it today.

I was supposed to plan an act of charity for someone in need. And, endeavor to carry it out. I think I did that. Not quite as actively helpful in the way of doing something—like I posted on my other blog, where I helped out a senior citizen by vacuuming her apartment. But all the same, I think it counts.

Here’s the basis for the act today. I have a friend, some distance from here. She has had continuing difficulty with an acquaintance for a number of months, on and off. I have been praying for her and the situation. Today, I wrote her an encouraging email. I let her know I think her handling of this continuing situation is (and has been) just superb. I really mean that.

I think encouragement helps! Truly.

In the book of Acts, Barnabas was one of the early followers of the risen Christ. He was also a great one for encouragement. That’s what his name means. Imagine, being so encouraging to his fellow believers that they chose a new name for him? Specifically, “Son of Encouragement.” What’s more, Barnabas was living through some very uncertain times. I suspect it was not easy for him to act as a positive, encouraging voice, as one who assists others and is a fine example of how to act, even though times are difficult.

So, how did I realize God was there, through this act of charity? My friend thanked me for my continued prayers, and appreciated my reassurance. Plus—those things I wrote? They just seemed like the right things to say. True, and honest. Genuine. I hope and pray that my words were a comfort and support to my friend, reaching out through her computer and giving her a big hug.

Charity = love = encouraging email. Works for me; I hope it worked for my friend. I pray so!

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.

Praise God for the Good—in Me?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 10, 2015

God is good all the time

Praise God for the Good—in Me?

Ever get embarrassed? I mean, really embarrassed? That was my first, instant reflex when I read today’s prayer suggestion. And then—I considered further. Why on earth was I embarrassed, when God knows it all, anyhow?

We’ll see what you think. The prayer suggestion read: Praise and thank God for all the good qualities you find in yourself. And—the follow up question was this: How can you more fully develop these good qualities?

First of all, I still have occasional baggage from my family of origin. I’m the youngest of a bunch of siblings. I still have that nagging feeling in the back of my brain that I’m the smallest, the least consequential, the one left behind. (I can’t blame my older sibs. After all, I was six years younger than the last sib. Of course I’d be trailing behind.) Add some low self-esteem, and the fact I was a chubby kid and turned into a chunky adolescent? Plenty of baggage.

Somehow, I need to square these fleeting, negative images of myself with how God sees me. God sees the positive gifts, the beneficial attributes.

Okay, God. Intellectually I know You love me. You want the best for me. And, You are sitting back, waiting to see what I’ll do with this prayer suggestion. Or, is it a prayer challenge? Because that’s very much what it feels like, right now.

I am genuine and persistent. I have a deep concern for others. People repeatedly tell me that I really listen to them, I hear their difficulties, I feel their emotions. (I suspect they seem to sense where I used to be, and still am, weak.) I also feel a strong motivation to help people, to serve as a companion, a liaison. I am often a friendly and prayerful companion. I am by nature a caring, nurturing, helpful, encouraging person. I have a definite sense of humor, and I sometimes use it to lighten the mood. I enjoy singing and making music, and I have an artistic bent.

If this suggestion was pointed more towards my spiritual gifts, I have the gifts of helps, mercy, a bit of hospitality, discernment, and pastor/teacher.

I feel like I cheated. I didn’t just come up with these off the top of my head. Instead, these characteristics have been confirmed by mature Christian elders and others, and by doing my own personal emotional discovery work. I’ve written them down, otherwise I couldn’t possibly come up with these gifts and attributes at the drop of a hat.

God, I need to take a good look at myself. An honest one, too. Thanks for helping me to see that I am a worthy and wonderful child of Yours. Help me to remember these good gifts and generous attributes on a regular basis!

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.

A Prayerful Look at Trees

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 7, 2015

green trees

A Prayerful Look at Trees

What an unusual suggestion! The prayer guide today had quite the recommendation for me. I still am not sure I can manage it. I’ve been praying about it! Not quite following it, but I will attempt to do so.

I am supposed to look for (or think of) two trees. One which resembles the kind of person I would like to be, and the other which expresses in some way the kind of person I see myself to be now. And—I need to decide what I need to do in order to change from the way I am now to the way I would like to be. Or—the way that God wants me to be.

This is complicated. First, the idea of a tree that is somehow stunted or not completely hale and healthy comes to mind.

I know I am not completely healthy. I have very poor eyesight. If I were not born in a first world country with access to glasses or contact lenses, I would be out of luck, as far as seeing anything more than nine inches or at most a foot away from my eyes. Second, I had a stroke when I was a teenager. My language center was affected. I may not seem—outwardly—like I am markedly different from most other people. And, perhaps I’m not. But, I seem like I am. I notice little things, like my hesitation at finishing sentences, and how I sometimes stumble over words. Those are two big areas for me. At least, they seem big.

Second, I think of a tree that is healthy, green and growing. I think of the tree represented in Psalm 1. I am not only in good physical health, but also in good mental, spiritual and psychological health, too. I can see myself stretch out my arms/branches to the sky, and my feet/roots grow deeply, connecting with the source of food and drink, health and all good things.

But how to get from where I am now to where I want to be? Other than asking God for help and working—one day at a time—to do my best for God, wherever I am placed,

Did You hear, God? Please, help me to do my best. For 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.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net