Tag Archives: prayer

Problems of Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017

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Problems of Meditation?

Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.

His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” [1]

Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.

Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.

I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)

@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), 26.

Why Meditation?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 11, 2017

woman in prayer, sanctuary

Why Meditation?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer must have been wonderful at meditation and prayer. He was quite devoted to it. Why did he meditate? He explained, “Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me.” [1]

In Bonhoeffer’s mind, meditation and prayer were closely intertwined with the Word of God, the Bible. Bonhoeffer felt his calling as a minister of the Word very strongly, too. Because he was a preacher of the Word, he said, “I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me.” [2] Yes, meditation and introspection were tied closely to rightly dividing the Word, for Bonhoeffer. “The pastor must pray more than others, and has more to pray about.” [3]

This whole conception of Bonhoeffer’s touches me deeply. I agree with him. The Bible has amazing things to say to regular, ordinary people. I’ve felt that way for years. I have been involved with meditation and prayer (off and on) since my twenties. However, Bonhoeffer was so much more faithful than I. Every single day, and several times a day.

I wish I could be as faithful in prayer and meditation as several of my friends. I consider them real pray-ers, in the major leagues, for example. I’m only a bush league pray-er. It’s true that I am also a pastor. Bonhoeffer’s words convict me strongly. God help me, they do.

Dear Lord, thank You for Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words and example of prayer and meditation. Help me to be more faithful. Guide me in praying regularly. Thank You for hearing my prayers and filling me with Your peace. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.

@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), 22.

[2] Ibid, 23.

[3] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

The Psalter and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

The Psalter and Meditation

I am such a fan of Dietrich Bonhöffer and his devotional writing. Sure, many people praise his deep theological works. (I think his theology is profound, too.) However, his attitude toward meditation and prayer reach me in a deep, profound way, internally.

I know how important reading is for those who understand “that special intimate relationship with God’s Word.” [1] In the excerpt, we discovered the repercussions for each one who is actively looking for an effective, emotional interaction.

Bonhöffer considered the Psalms as the way he became closer to God. I know how challenging this is for many, but think of something hopeful and upbeat. If anyone can get their hands on this devotional reading, it would be a worthwhile way of deepening our relationship with God.

Dear God, help me to discover more about You and Your World. Lead me in Your way and direct our path. Hear us, o Lord God where You can remind us of how valuable the meditation can be. Hear us when 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 10.

 

Starting to Meditate on the Word

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 1, 2017

sit in pew, praying

Starting to Meditate on the Word

It’s June. It’s the start of the summer season. I will begin my summer sermon series the week after Pentecost (this coming Sunday). Plus, I just finished the anthology compiled by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics. I wondered about another book I could go through in a similar way to the anthology, and I found one that seems to speak to me. This new book is also an anthology of sorts: a collection of short writings by theologian, professor and pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer.

Meditating on the Word was translated by David McI. Gracie. As we will see over the next weeks, reading the Bible was a source of devotion to Bonhöffer. He not only studied and interpreted the Bible, and heard the words of the Bible in worship services, but he found great comfort and meaning in praying, using the words of the Bible. He considered such reading and meditating on the words of the Bible another means of grace. (God-sent, and God-given.)

As Gracie mentions in his introduction, meditative reading of the Bible led Bonhöffer to prayer on a regular basis. “The Bible was the school of prayer for Bonhöffer, a school in which we learn the language of God, and ‘repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to God.’” [1]

I read this book in depth some years ago, and tried to practice prayerful meditation on a regular schedule. Studying this book was so good for me. Once more, I look forward to practicing prayer and meditation using the Word of God.

“In examining these unfinished pieces, …we may feel freer to pick up hints and insights that fit with the broken pieces of our own life and worship.” [2] I hope and pray that this book serves as a regular help to others as they meditate and pray, too. Dear Lord, help all of us as 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 27, 2017

joy in sand

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Richard Foster chose to write about (and include excerpts from) both Faber and John Henry Newman. They both were ordained as Anglican clergymen, and both were influenced to turn to Roman Catholicism.

During the time of two tours of the European Continent in the 1840’s, Faber was drawn to Catholicism by its rites and devotions. He and Newman were received into the Catholic church. Increasingly devotional in nature, Faber founded a religious community the following year. Newman made Faber the superior of a London community. Faber oversaw the founding of many good works and outreaches, and became known as a spiritual leader, writer and confessor.

This excerpt comes from “The Creator and Creature.”

“This is, in fact, [man’s] true blessedness—to be ever more and more enclosed in the hand of God who made him. The Creator’s hand is the creature’s home.” [1] This pair of sentences is so representative of this excerpt. Faber delights to speak of the glories of the Creation, the wonders of the Creator, and our joy (the creatures’ joy, that is) in our living in this wondrous Creation.

So far as the creature is concerned, Faber explains that the creatures are full of fear, true. Yet, they are also made up of “…humility, of prayer, of repentance, and above all, of love…so much man, as a creature, conduct himself as such, and do those virtuous actions, which are chiefly virtues because they are becoming to him and adapted to his condition.” [2]

Faber’s view of humanity is hopeful and humble. (So interesting to me, personally, with a basically Reformed view of humanity.) Yet, this view of Faber’s jives with the Westminster Catechism’s first question: what is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I suspect Faber would agree with that question and answer, in great part.

In his perception of humans as creatures, they love and obey and readily admit the sovereignty of God the Creator. As I am encouraged to meditate on the glories of the Creator God, I can also thank our Lord Jesus for His intercession for me and for His forgiveness of all my sins. Thank You, thank You, Jesus!

@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, 354.

[2] Ibid, 355.

G.K. Chesterton and God’s Guidance

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

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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.