Tag Archives: prayer

G.K. Chesterton and God’s Guidance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 9, 2017

g-k-chesterton5

G.K. Chesterton and God’s Guidance

I have been intrigued by G.K. Chesterton for some years. And, no. I still have not read any of his writings. (Although I do have one or two Father Brown mysteries on my shelf, waiting for me to read them.)

Born in a middle-class family, at first studying art and then English literature, he developed into an astute writer of apologetic essays and books. He became a Roman Catholic in midlife, and was called “Defender of the Faith” by the Roman Catholic church.

This extended excerpt by Chesterton is not from his later period, when he was all somber and serious. However, this is from his younger (and to his mature mind, more frivolous) period.

“For instance, we often hear grown up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train?” [1]

In this selection of pieces, Chesterton is writing in a light-hearted, breezy style. Yet, he is writing about people and events that shape our own understanding of Christianity, after World War I.

Chesterton wanted to bring up the length of the flood (or, was it the German word for the flood?) And then, something tongue-in-cheek happens. He had such a way with words (even as a younger man) that he was able to communicate matters of faith in a lighthearted way.

This extended selection is in this book partially to show that we need not be somber and sober all the time. A gentle reminder for those who are reading this book with their mouths constantly down-turned and somber.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 301.

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 4, 2017

St. Ignatius of Loyola, statue

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

When I saw the next name (and excerpt) in this anthology, I got excited. About eleven years ago, when I was heavily immersed in different forms of prayer and spiritual disciplines, I happened to pick up a copy of The Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius of Loyola. I had several conversations about the process with my spiritual director at the time, and I went through the exercises that summer. The prayers, readings and contemplation were vivid experiences for me.

Ignatius of Loyola had quite a life. First as a courtier and soldier, then wounded, transformed by spiritual reading and prayer, renewed by a vision of God, he was revitalized as a soldier for Christ. He earned degrees and scholastic honors, and swore vows to Pope Paul III. His vision for spiritual formation, education and spreading the Word of God remains one of the most influential in history.

The excerpt here is from “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits.” The information is presented with great clarity and directness. (I did note several instances where women were slighted. I put that down to the prevailing societal norms of Ignatius’s day.)

I wanted to focus especially on two sections. First, where St. Ignatius defines spiritual distress: “this is the name I give to whatever in opposite to the foregoing—darkness of soul, disquiet of mind, an attraction to what is coarse and earthly, all restlessness proceeding from different temptation and disturbances;” [1] As he says, such distress does, indeed, destroy faith, hope and charity. I know—from experience—how damaging such spiritual distress can be to the interior life. And, not just the interior. Ignatius mentions the soul being “listless, apathetic, melancholy;” I know the outer self, the physical body can also find itself listless and apathetic. (This is one of the symptoms of clinical depression, too.) Ignatius amazes me with his perceptive observations concerning many different spiritual, psychological and physical manifestations. Amazing.

Second, in his several descriptions of the enemy of our human nature. One in particular struck me. As Ignatius describes the enemy as military commander “in his attempts to overcome and seize the object he has set his heart on…Similarly, the enemy of our human nature makes a tour of inspection of our virtues—theological, cardinal and moral. Where he finds us weakest and most defective in which pertains to our eternal salvation, he attacks at that point, seeking to overthrow us.” [2]

Ah! How true. How well said. Certainly, the enemy and his minions lay siege to my weakest sensibilities, prowling around the walls of the city of Mansoul, ready to set the siege ladders and infiltrate at my personal, private weak points. Brrr! Just reading his description sends chills down my spine.

Dear Lord, thank You for my re-acquaintance with Ignatius of Loyola. Help me continue to learn more, and follow Your ways and paths. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 292.

[2] Ibid, 294.

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 27, 2017

worship, definition

Worship and Devotion with Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray was a well-known missionary leader in the late 1800’s and into the 1900’s. Both his mother’s and father’s faith traditions were varied. As he grew and started working in ministry in South Africa, their influence caused Murray to be ecumenical. His influence grew, especially because of his many devotional writings. (Two of which I have read.)

Murray called his readers to a sincere, devout, daily devotion to God. As Murray and his readers worship God regularly, he gives them an analogy. (This was particularly striking to me.) “There is no more wonderful image in nature of the glory of God than we find in the starry heavens…A photographic plate fixed below the telescope will reveal millions of stars which otherwise could never have been seen by the eye…What a lesson for the soul that longs to see the glory of God in His Word. Let your heart be as a photographic plate that waits for God’s glory to be revealed…The plate must be exposed for several hours to receive the full impression of the farthest stars.” [1]

What a marvelous insight. As I am still before God, God will imprint God’s glory—the stars, and whatever wonderful insights and impressions—upon that photographic plate that is my heart. Then, I will be able to more fully appreciate and apprehend God’s magnificent works and ways. Is there any other response to make, other than to hide my face in awe and wonder and sigh, “How great Thou art!”

Further on in the reading, Murray writes these words, requesting our Lord Jesus to teach us to pray. (I cannot understand why he wrote them, since he was so connected to God…but, there it is.)  “Blessed Lord Jesus! O my Lord! You are the Great Intercessor. You alone pray and hear prayer for the sole purpose of glorifying the Father. Teach me to pray at you do.” [2]

Ah, such a request! Even more so, coming from such a man who strove mightily to do the very best he could in service, as well as to evangelism. And, especially in prayer and devotion. Dear Lord, gracious God, teach us to pray with one fraction of the intensity and fervency of Andrew Murray. Please, dear God. Fulfill this earnest prayer. 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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 272.

[2] Ibid, 274.

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 18, 2017

compassion heart

Adolfo Quezada, Confession and Compassion

Adolfo Quezada is a licensed professional counselor in California. He has published several books, and is a loving, caring, supportive counselor. He specializes particularly in depression, anxiety, grief and trauma. He also leads prayer retreats.

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Quezada is all for letting go of what happened in people’s individual lives. There is the negative side: things people have said, done or thought. Quezada recommends: “Make restitution as best you can in ways that bring healing and restore harmony to your life and lives of those you have hurt.” [1]

I read Quezada’s profound statement, “When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness.” [2] This is truly life-changing, for some people. People who feel that whatever they might have done was so terribly awful that God would never forgive them, and—guess what? God really will forgive us. Even more so than flawed parents who sometimes interfere with their children and even reject them, God will never, ever reject us.

Then, I noticed this gut-wrenching statement: “Reconsider your expectations. Examine the demands you make on yourself. Are they realistic? What do you base them on?” [3] Ah, so painful. So much pain in these few words. God will help us all with those faulty, unrealistic expectations. We all can gain access to God’s immeasurable, bountiful love and mercy.

I can—we all can—experience God’s love. Generous and unconditional. Do you feel unworthy? Or, perhaps, disgruntled at someone, so you have something blocking you from God’s love? Nevertheless, God loves you. Abundantly, immeasurably, marvelously, God’s love lasts forever. Amazing love and grace and mercy.  Alleluia.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 246.

[2] Ibid, 247.

[3] Ibid.

God’s Instrument, Alan Paton

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, April 3, 2017

instrument of Your peace, round

God’s Instrument, Alan Paton

Ah, the breadth and depth of this brief excerpt! I can just imagine how deeply touched Alan Paton was by his stirring experience of the almighty God.

The Rev. Alan Paton was a white South African Anglican clergyman who was also an outspoken opponent of apartheid. He had several spiritual mentors (including Dag Hammarskjöld), but his compassionate heart belonged with St. Francis of Assisi and the familiar prayer attributed to him.

“So majestic is [St. Francis’s] conception that one dare no longer be sorry for oneself. This world ceases to be one’s enemy and becomes the place where one lives and works and serves.” [1] This is preamble, of sorts. This becomes the foundation on which the rest of the excerpt depends. “But in his prayer, [Francis] asks nothing for himself, or perhaps he asks everything, and that is that his whole life, all his gifts, his physical strength, shall be an instrument in God’s hand.” [2]

The example of Moses is brought to our attention. Yes, despite adverse conditions, Moses was chosen as God’s spokesman to Pharaoh. He was also directed to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and around the Sinai region. “The [biblical passage] is full of reassurances to us, some of them startling…. Things might be dark but [believers] are to be the light of the world.” [3]

Yes, the present world may—indeed—be dark. The group at my area cluster meeting sometimes is in tears concerning the situation of our present world.

“To those who have lost their way, let me restore it to them. To those who are aimless, let me bring purpose….let me teach them that they are the children of God and can be used as His instruments in the never-ending work of healing and redemption.” [4] Such a heartfelt, humble prayer! Such a marvelous feeling of joining together in peace and brotherhood. Dear Lord, may it be so, we pray.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 191.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 193.

[4] Ibid.

Thomas à Kempis and Solitude

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 25, 2017

solitude - sitting

Thomas à Kempis and Solitude

I realize I’m probably going out on a limb, but I suspect Thomas probably was more introverted than extroverted. Being more extroverted myself, I read his instructions from the Imitation of Christ as far beyond me, for the most part. However, I have several children who are, indeed, introverts. I could much more easily see them adapting to some of Thomas’s recommendations.

Don’t suppose that I mean that some of his recommendations are not intriguing! Certainly, they are. Especially since I am becoming more introverted now that I’m in my fifties, I would like to strive to follow some of these.

For instance:Thomas’s instructions, as far as leaving the crowd behind. “What’s certain? The person who wants to arrive at interiority and spirituality has to leave the crowd behind and spend some time with Jesus.” [1] This is good instruction, whatever century you are in, whatever situation in which you find yourself. I especially am intrigued by his statement wanting “to arrive at interiority and spirituality.” That makes me want to get inside my interior and sprinkle some spiritual fertilizer around! I would like to develop my interiority and spirituality, for sure.

Another insight hit home to me: “A cell that’s much prayed in is a pleasant spot. A cell that’s rarely prayed in is a forbidding place.” [2] This statement reminded me of the church I pastor, St. Luke’s Christian Community Church (in Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago). This church has a prayed-in feel. I know that much of that feeling of deep-down prayer comes from our Korean friends, who meet in our sanctuary from 12 noon to 2 pm every Sunday. They are pray-ers! Similar to Thomas à Kempis, our sanctuary is a place that is familiar with prayer. Even, saturated with prayer. It’s great that we have opportunities like this!

When it comes to the bottom line, solitude is expressive, yet solitary. A way to God, yet also a way to havedear Ho relationship with others in our community. Dear Lord, thank You for such wise words and such insights  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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 149.

[2] Ibid, 150.

Cardinal Newman Describes a Fast

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 9, 2017

fasting - empty plate

 

Cardinal Newman Describes a Fast

Originally an Anglican priest, Cardinal Newman found comfort in many spiritual disciplines—including fasting. As Richard Foster writes in his definition, Newman is intimately engaged with scripture. It shows, too.

I was struck by the following excerpt from his writing: “Even now, Angels are especially sent to those who thus seek God. Not Daniel only, but Elijah too, was, during his fast, strengthened by an Angel; an Angel appeared to Cornelius, while he was fasting, and in prayer.” [1] I can’t fast like I used to, years ago. (Sorry about that, Lord.) But—was God watching over me when I fasted? What a point to ponder.

Jesus seems to imply that prayer is somehow augmented by fasting, too. When someone prays AND fasts, is there an additional layer of strength and blessing granted to the one who does both of these things? Fasts and prays? It certainly seems so. I am intrigued to think of the Devil getting scared of people who fast! Amazing thought.

Gracious God, thank You for giving us the discipline of fasting, as well as the scriptures that talk about fasting. What an idea, that someone can fast from different things, not only from food. Show me how to fast like this, Lord. Grant us faithfulness and grace in order to fast.

@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] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 63.