Tag Archives: prayerful

Detached? Prayerful, Instead.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 27, 2018

immeasurable prayer power

Detached? Prayerful, Instead.

Oh, Father Nouwen, your words burrow deep within my heart. Or, deep within the flimsy defenses I’ve erected, rather. (Whichever it is, these words do burrow deep. Perhaps both deep in my heart AND deep within my flimsy defenses…)

So many of the unpleasant, downright irritating and repulsive character traits Father Nouwen mentions in this short section are true about me. At least, every once in a while, and sometimes much more often than that. These repulsive character traits do get in the way when I wish to pray. (And, especially when I do not wish to pray. Then, perhaps, they get the most in the way.)

Most striking to me today is the fact that I “can become attached to [my] own hate. As long as [I] look for retaliation, [I am] riveted to [my] own past.” [1]  Oh, how foul. How horrifying. Imagine, being stuck in an infernal hamster wheel of hate for my whole life long.

I have rarely been burdened with long-term hatred and the desire for retaliation, thank God! However, sometimes… Twisted daydreams of revenge and retaliation do flit across my mind, on occasion. Again, thank God they do not stick around. I would shrink back in terror and horror if my mind did happen to continually return to twisted thoughts like that.

“Don’t be afraid of him who wants to enter that space where you live, or to let him see what you are clinging to so anxiously…. Don’t be afraid to offer your hate, bitterness, disappointment to him who reveals himself as love.” [2] Oh, dear God, let it be true! Even though I am filled with twisted, repulsive, bitter character traits and negative emotions, I know You continue to reveal Yourself as love. Reveal Yourself that way to me, today. Now.

With a hopeful heart—surprising, after considering this sad, depressing topic—I pray all of these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.



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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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 6.

[2] Ibid.

Celebrate with Christina Rossetti

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, May 12, 2017

little lamb

Celebrate with Christina Rossetti

Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin have done a wonderful thing by giving us snapshots of all of these diverse believers from many different faith traditions, including Christina Rossetti. I have loved Christina Rossetti’s poems for decades, ever since I discovered them as a teenager. (The last verse of this particular hymn has been precious to me since then.) However, I never knew very much about her, other than the fact she was an invalid for much of her life.

Her father was an impressive man: a refugee from Italy, he became a professor of English at King’s College, London during the 1800’s. Their family was part of the artistic creativity of that time. Rossetti was a devout Anglican, and her poems reflect her deep beliefs.

This excerpt is a poem (also the words of a hymn, tune CRANHAM, written by Gustav Holst). It shows the deep, reverent feelings Rossetti has about the Nativity. I appreciate Foster and Griffin’s placement of this in the “Celebration” part of this anthology, since this poem is at once celebratory, wonder-full, and prayerful.

Yes, the setting of the first verse is striking and sets the scene of midwinter in England exactly. However, on this reading, I was struck by Rossetti’s prayerful wonder. True enough, “Angels and archangels /May have gathered there,/Cherubim and seraphim/Thronged the air/.” All of heaven’s glory must have stood in watch and wonder at the birth of God’s Son. But—but— “But only his mother/In her maiden bliss/Worshipped the Beloved/With a kiss.” [1]

Indeed, what wonder.

And, the last verse of this hymn always brings me to tears. “What can I bring him, poor as I am?/ If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,/If I were a wise man I would do my part—/Yet what can I give him, Give my heart.” [2]

Dear Lord, sweet Jesus, these words come from deep inside of me, and deep inside of many. Hear us, dear Lord. In Your sweet, loving name we pray, amen.



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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), 310.

[2] Ibid.

Contemplation: Prayerful Marguerite Porete

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 4, 2017


Contemplation: Prayerful Marguerite Porete

I had never heard of this medieval woman before. (Not all that unusual. Nevertheless, I was still a bit miffed that I had not even heard of this woman.)

There is some vivid language here. Marguerite certainly spoke of a close relationship with God, and sacrifice, and love. She makes some definite statements about her personal will, and how the will gets in the way. In fact, one must “destroy her own will.” [1]

(I am not sure quite what I think of her more forward-looking and forceful words. I’ll need to ruminate on them.)

One of Richard Foster’s discussion questions, after the reading, includes 1) Contemplative prayer may involve a deeper intimacy with God. Am I willing to accept this possibility?” (The possibility of my friends entering into a closer relationship with God is awesome. AND scary.)

Such a vibrant expression of faith and trust in her language. I did have a bit of difficulty with the bright, shining, even ecstatic nature of her writing, however.

Too bad her life was ended so abruptly. Dear Lord, gracious God, we come together. We come from a wider Christian audience, and what our desire ought to be. Yes, the deepest desire of the heart is to strive to the best of my ability to be a resource for prayer, intimacy, fear, thanksgiving,  and devotion.

Let it be so, dear Lord.



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), 23.

A Prayerful Day: Yom Kippur

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, October 11, 2016


A Prayerful Day: Yom Kippur

This is the end of the High Holidays: the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. A full day of asking Ha Shem to forgive us the sins we have committed against Ha Shem. What is more, those observing Yom Kippur need to ask all those whom we have wronged to forgive us. All of this is done while fasting, too.

Yes, I understand why we are to ask G-d for forgiveness for our sins. The Jewish concept of sin includes the idea of missing the mark, like an archer missing the target. What a concept. Instead of a nebulous intellectual thought going through my head, this is a concrete image.

I connect strongly to mental images.  I needed a vivid image for me to hold on to. This idea of missing the target hits me right in the heart. Really and truly.

Then, after those observing Yom Kippur stop to ask forgiveness of G-d (vertically), they turn to ask forgiveness of others, near and far (horizontally). And, sometimes even those who have died.

Some people don’t care for this practice. “Why do I have to forgive that person? He/she doesn’t even feel sorry for what they did to me.” With arms folded across the chest, lower lip protruding. (Can you say “grudge?”) Some people hold grudges against another. Sometimes, against more than one or two persons.

There is a saying: “Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent-free in your head.” If we let go of grudges and allow any anger, fear and resentment we hold in our heart to dissipate, we are evicting those people from our heads. We are sweeping our side of the street, and clearing away the debris of our life. Others’ lives, too.

What a way for me to feel the mercy of G-d. Wonderful, rejuvenating, life-giving mercy. I urge anyone–everyone to consider this practice. Cleansing to the heart and soul.

May my friends who observe Yom Kippur have an easy fast. May we all feel G-d’s abundant mercy.


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

A Prayerful Reflection

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 25, 2015

PRAY don't worry, through prayer to God Phil 4-6

A Prayerful Reflection

There are different ways of praying, using Ignatian prayer and meditation. Last week, we took a look at one version. This week, we’re looking at another. I’m returning to Inner Compass, the book by Margaret Silf that has been sometimes helpful to me during the past few years.

As Silf says, this meditation and prayer time can be done each night, and can draw the happenings of the day together. Helping the person doing the praying to observe what God is doing through and in that person’s life.

The first step is Stillness. “Relax, be still; let the tensions of the day slip away from you. Know that you are in God’s presence. He rejoices that you have come to Him, however, forgetful you may have been of Him during the day.” [1]

This first step is helpful, and can be cleansing of anxiety, frustration, rage, and depression. Deep breathing often is helpful in this process, too. Any other way or manner of meditation and mindfulness is beneficial, as well.

God’s leading and God’s kind words and actions act as a reassuring support for those in prayer. God willing, I can start now.


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 .

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 59.

Day #34 – A Good Steward, Prayerfully

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 28, 2015

pray for the world

Day #34 – A Good Steward, Prayerfully

Ever hear something (or read something) and immediately have a scene from your past pop into your head? That was me, when I read today’s excellent suggestion from Ruth.

As I went through the colored action suggestions at the end of the blog post, my eye fell on the first one, the green one. And I immediately went back several decades, to when I was twelve or thirteen years old.

My dad was alive then. We were in the little brick house in Chicago where I (and my older brothers and sisters) all grew up. My dad was a statistician, and particularly precise and conscientious where saving money was concerned. We didn’t have too much to spare, especially with my older sisters at the University of Illinois. (Yes, both at the same time.) He drilled it into all of our heads to be thoughtful and careful with what we used, how much we used, and why we used it. This was the same with food to paper products to utilities.

I particularly remember several times when I was either twelve or thirteen. It was winter time, so a time of earlier darkness. A time of more artificial lights. I would go into a room, find what I needed, and automatically flip off the light switch as I left the room.

“Hey! I’m still in here!” was what my dad said, disgruntled. This happened several times. (At least.) I would look back, chagrined. Sorry. Apologetic. “I’m just doing what you said. What you taught me.” I distinctly remember saying that, at least a couple of times.

I know our family was thinking about saving money when we grew up. We needed to count our pennies. (Pennies were worth something in those days! But, I’m showing my age.) Now, when I think twice about turning on lights, or turning down the heat in my condominium, or using that reusable insulated cup for my coffee or tea in the morning, I am also thinking about being a good steward of creation. Of the gifts and blessings God has given me. What a good reminder of what I can do, to make a difference.


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(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, February 11, 2015

bluebird and lilacs

A Prayerful Look at the Marvels of Nature

My prayer guide was specific today. Check out nature.

Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. (It was cloudy and overcast today, so no luck there.) Or, contemplate the waves of the ocean, a mountain lake, a waterfall. (Sort of difficult to do, seeing as I don’t live by either the ocean or the mountains. I could have gone to Lake Michigan today, but it was really blustery, and the temperature was dropping. It will be in the single digits overnight.)

Another suggestion was to look closely at a tree, a leaf, a beetle, or an animal. I did the next best thing, on this windy and chill and blustery day. I looked at a bird’s nest. My son had found a bird’s nest on the grass under a tree some two years ago. He still has it in a drawer in his room. So, I looked at the nest closely.

My instructions? “As you contemplate God’s creation, try to come to a better appreciation of God’s beauty, power, goodness, love, wisdom.”

I examined this nest—this creation of one of God’s creatures—with great interest. I’ve always been interested in birds and their nests, ever since I found one up in the cherry tree in my mom’s backyard in Chicago. (I found a nest, I mean. Not with a bird in it.)

This particular nest is in excellent condition. I suspect it could be used by any bird of the right size this coming spring. Just looking at it, the nest seems to fit a bird about the size of a robin. (I know smaller birds use smaller nests.) Marvelous construction! Larger branches are used at the bottom. Mid-sized branches and twigs daubed with some kind of mud hold the whole thing together. Plus, swirled, dried grasses line the inside of the nest to make a soft cushion for the eggs, and afterwards, the newly hatched chicks.

I am reminded of where Jesus talks about birds of the air in Matthew 6. He mentions that God the Father watches out for them, just like with this nest. Yes, I am in awe at this nest. This home for a bird, and resting place for eggs, and later, baby birds. Such a wonderful method of construction, and made with economy of materials. I would like to see humans make as functional a home for a bird in such a neat, tidy and well-made way. (Kudos to all of you, birds!)

God, You said You would watch out for me just as much as You watch out for all the birds. I know I have nothing—well, very little—to complain about! But Lord, please, help me to have faith in You. Give me the patience, hope and perseverance to keep on keeping on. And, thank You for such a marvelous object lesson from a bird’s nest.

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

Teeter Totter and—Be Quiet. Be Prayerful.

matterofprayer blog post for Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PRAY believe hope

Teeter Totter and—Be Quiet. Be Prayerful.

My life has been full lately. More often than not, I’ve felt like I’ve had to hurry up and do the next thing on the schedule.

At my work, my co-worker transitioned out of his position as interim co-pastor over the past several weeks. So, he and I have been going over the transitional tasks, hoping to make the passing of the baton as smooth as possible. The first Sunday of the month was his last Sunday with this church. We had a wonderful celebration of his interim ministry. He is now transitioning into a new position with his denomination, and I wish him the very best! Still—a big change, and lots to do, to take care of, and make sure it all gets done in a timely fashion.

In several other areas of my life, as well, things have been hopping! On top of everything else, my son’s cold two weeks ago and my subsequent cold last week (I caught it from my son . . . he shared!) added to the distraction and upset. I felt like I was on a big teeter totter, like I remember from the park near my house as a child.

Huge teeter totters made of metal, welded to a sturdy metal pipe structure in the center. The seats were wooden, painted gaily in bright colors. I liked going on the teeter totters well enough, but I did not enjoy being held up in the “up” position for a long time. Sometimes two of the other children would sit on the other end together, and there would be nothing I could do about it except holler and yell and wiggle my legs. (Much to the amusement of the others in the playground, I am sure.) And then, down-down-down, boom! Crash, on the ground! I’d finally get back to earth, with solid ground under my feet.

My transition time hasn’t been quite that traumatic—with booms and crashes—but it has been a time of adjustment. I have felt a little like I was up in the air on a teeter totter, even though my colleague Gordon was and is wonderful. He is older and wiser, and has transitioned in and out of quite a number of positions. He’s an old hand at this, and he couldn’t have been more supportive.

But still, there was that teeter totter feeling. Sometimes.

Good thing I have my prayer time! I was able to get quiet, calm myself, be present to God and have God be present with me. I love being able to focus on God’s compassion and openness, as well as the abundant care and encouragement that comes from being in the presence of the Divine, the Holy, the Lover of my soul. Thanks be to God!

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, Gracious God, thank You for Your special presence with me these past few weeks. I praise Your name for Gordon, such a wonderful colleague! Please bless him in his future ministry. But God, there is still that teeter totter feeling! I still can feel it inside. Please, God, give me—give us the assurance that You will be with us even though we are unsure whether there is solid earth or quicksand under our feet. Whether our co-workers are great people or not-so-great people, I know without a doubt You are here, right by my side. Right by our sides. What a blessing. Thank You, God!


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: