Tag Archives: presence of God

Prayer. Meditation. Wisdom.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 22, 2017


Prayer. Meditation. Wisdom.

I still have difficulty praying and meditating on a regular basis. Yes, I have had this blog for many months. I strove to be faithful in prayer and meditation for many years before. (Lord, You know I have.) And still, I struggle.

Yet, when I do pray and meditate—on occasion—I can feel the peace and serenity of God come into my heart and mind. Marvelous feeling! (Even when I do not feel the sense of the presence of God surrounding me, much.)

Plus, every now and then, I gain insight, or wisdom, from the prayer and meditation. Every now and then, I find I have discernment that I did not previously realize was there.

See, when we pray and meditate, sometimes long-held internal ideas of resentment, fear, anger, despair and hatred are quietly transformed. In some cases, relationships with other people and with nature can be transformed, too.

When I become aware of this—this discernment, this wisdom beyond myself, I am filled with wonder. How amazing that negative ideas and qualities can quietly transform. As I continue with the prayer and meditation on a regular basis, positive things begin happening on the inside. As teacher Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us, “As we become freer and happier, we cease to act in ways that make others suffer, and we are able to bring about change in ourselves and help others around us.” [1]

God willing, may I become more and more positive. May my mind become more in line with the way Jesus would view my thinking. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 34.


PEACE: God’s Love Within

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, August 16, 2016

God brings peace

PEACE: God’s Love Within

This post includes a second definition of PEACE from Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church. But, before we get to that, I need to tell a bit about the Englewood neighborhood, and Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK). This excellent group has a dinner outreach called Take Them a Meal. Several people from Morton Grove traveled to the south side of Chicago to provide for the dinner, two weeks ago.

The weather was quite warm—and so was the fellowship and community! Heartwarming, too.

As the dinner outreach packed up, Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church started to set up on the same street corner. They have an outdoor worship service every Wednesday night during the summer. That church has a regular outreach to the Englewood community.

I greeted several of the church members, including the associate pastor, Frederick Schells. A kindly man, he gave me his view of peace right away. Pastor Frederick’s personal definition: “PEACE is the love of God within you.”

As I asked for him to elaborate, he said, “Peace has to be recognized from within.” He talked about the importance of God in each individual’s life, and how the presence of God is a foundation for peace.

The presence of God can be a comfort and encouragement for many, especially when going through difficult or challenging times. The Gospel of John lets us know that Jesus promised peace—His peace. Not as the world gives. Not fleeting or temporary, but permanent. Everlasting peace.

Praise God. Thank You for Your peace.


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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE: Presence in Heart and Mind

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April16, 2016

peace, swirls

PEACE: Presence in Heart and Mind

Today, I have the final definition of PEACE from the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove. I appreciated the opportunity to visit the MCC some days ago.

The president of the Sunday school reminded the gathered crowd that I was there to ask the simple question “What is PEACE, to you?”

Dilnaz’s personal definition: “PEACE is when there is a presence in the heart and mind.”

I asked her for further explanation. She said, “You realize peace when you give yourself to a Higher Being. And, you don’t have to have total control.”

Dilnaz is so right. We all can realize peace in our own lives by opening ourselves to God (or, the Higher Power, if some choose to identify the Holy or Divine One, in such a way.)

I would like to express my thankfulness at the kind invitation I received from Dilnaz, so that I could have the chance to gather interesting, diverse personal definitions of PEACE. (Thanks, Dilnaz!)

Gracious, merciful God, thank You for the opportunity to go to the Muslim Community Center and get to know them a little better. Help me—help all of us strive to continue the conversation of PEACE. In Your holy name we pray, amen.


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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(Thanks to everyone at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove, for making this week of personal definitions of PEACE possible.)

PEACE: God’s Presence in My Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 3, 2016


PEACE: God’s Presence in My Heart

Earlier this week, I visited the senior group at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Morton Grove to speak to them about PEACE. Isn’t the country more and more divided now? Divided in terms of race, politics, sexual preference. And, then some!

I gave a small presentation about the lack of PEACE and what we can do about it. Several ideas about how to lessen the animosity between people and between groups of people.

I also gave them some background on my Pursuing PEACE Project, and asked if any of the seniors would be willing to give me their personal definition of PEACE. Several of them were eager to give me their points of view.

Today’s definition comes from a sweet woman circulating around the room. I went up to her and asked my question: “What is your personal definition of PEACE?” Carol DiSimone reflected for several moments, and then said, “Peace is God’s presence in my heart.”

I asked her for a little more explanation. She responded: “I thank God when I pray. I thank God every night that I have God in my heart. I am very grateful.” That was the most important thing in her heart. Yes, there was some additional stuff going on in her life. However, stripping all that other stuff away, putting it in its place—as Carol had—the presence of God is what is important to her.

These seniors have a good deal of wisdom and insight. Would that we all have such a straight-forward view on life, and God in our lives. God, may it be so!


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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Pray in the Presence of God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, December 10, 2015

Matt 22-26 greatest command

Pray in the Presence of God

I try to remember God. Really, I do. But—it’s so difficult, sometimes. I forget. God slips my mind, sometimes. How can that be, I ask myself? (!!!) Forgive me, God.

Reading in the Advent book of reflections for today, Henri Nouwen talked about forgetting God. About how humans here on this earth, here in this plane of existence, pre-empt my attention and my direction.

I need to direct my thoughts to God, to give as much as possible of my heart, soul and mind to God. Not to have my heart, soul and mind redirected. I know, I know. It is so simple to just allow it to happen. To allow my heart, soul and mind to drift away from God.

Nouwen’s words cut me to the quick: “Jesus’ claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul.” [1]

For the Advent Action of the day, I am advised to go through the “old tapes” that play inside my head, those “tapes” that do not allow me to acknowledge God’s love for me. “Pick one ‘tape:’ a resentment, a belittlement, a loss, and pack it away permanently in exchange for the shelter of a loved and loving God.” [2]

Dear Lord Jesus, You love me. You really do. And, You want me to be all I can be. You want me to give all—that is ALL—of myself to You. Help me to be willing to be willing. Help me as I wait for You and Your coming. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.


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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Advent and Christmas: Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen (Linguori, Missouri: Redemptorist Pastoral Publications, 2004), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

Forgiveness? How to Forgive.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 9, 2015

FORGIVE God forgives the unexcusable

Forgiveness? How to Forgive.

How to forgive? The same way Christ forgave. Step by step, one step at a time.

One action, one lovingly, giving-ly, supernaturally, and amazingly given.

But what happens when I do something against God? Something that hurts God? What about something that ought to cause God to become bitter, or aloof, but just doesn’t? What then?

Amazing grace. Even more amazing forgiveness. That is the way that God is going to forgive; or has forgiven. I am reminded of the scene in Isaiah 6, where such awe-inspiring presence of God would lead me to prostrate myself before all that mighty God-ness. Only, I see that remarkable presence of God as forgiving me. Wow. I have no words. They all seemed to be inadequate.

But—wait. As I come to the book Praying the New Testament as Psalms, I find forgiveness in so many places there, as well. Like in this modern verse adapted from Ephesians: “Touch my heart, God, that I may be kind to others,/tender-hearted, ready to forgive as You in Christ have forgiven me.” [1]

Dear God. Gracious, loving, forgiving God. Through the riches of Christ’s grace, I have forgiveness lavished upon me. It is too much for me to understand, much less begin to appreciate. All I can do is fall on my face. (Just like Isaiah.) Thank You. Thank You. And, help me always to be as ready to forgive others as You in Christ are ready to forgive me.


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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 78.

Nourish and Connect with the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 20, 2015

HUG - can I have a hug

Nourish and Connect with the Soul

Why not nourish our souls? Why not connect with that deep place inside each of us? (Those are rhetorical questions.)

I loved the way Richard Carlson opened our chapter today in Handbook for the Soul. He quoted Stephen Levine, and said, “If you had one hour to live and could make only one call, who would it be to, what would you say, and why are you waiting?” [1] Yes, I loved this quote.

I know I think about life one day at a time. This quote also made me think hard.

When it comes to thinking about my own death, I am certainly calmer, more at peace than some I have seen first-hand who received bad news in the hospital. However, I have never thought quite this thought before. Going one step further, I considered Carlson’s similar question, directed to the Soul: “Why wait a moment longer to connect with and nourish the Soul?” [2]

My connectedness to my Soul plays a big part in my happiness, my joy, contentment, graciousness, and kindness (to myself as well as to others). Any kind of disconnect is something that concerns me.

As I thought about the whole concept of connection to the Soul, my yoga class came to mind. (I know I’ve mentioned before that my yoga teacher is marvelous!) True, I have prayed, meditated, and done various other kinds of spiritual formation and exercises for years. However, I think the past year and a half (since I started yoga practice on a regular basis) has helped me to grow in a different way. Not as much up in my head, and more in my heart and in my body.

I can easily affirm Carlson’s words “that the primary purpose in life is to feel and appreciate the presence of God, to live from a state of love and compassion, to be of service to others, and then, instantly, like magic, I begin to feel at peace.” [3]

Just so.

Yes, I find yoga greatly assists me in this endeavor. Yes. Striving to do these three foundational things, and having peace by the natural result? Marvelous striving. And, wonderful happenings, along the way. Feeling nourished by my Soul? Fabulous. And, I feel that feeling on a regular basis, now. What a feeling! How wonderful to be more and more connected to my Soul. God willing, I can keep feeling this way.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 126.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 127.


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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Pray for the One I Love (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – February 6, 2015

LOVE you are loved

Pray for the One I Love (Focus Friday!)

Today’s prayer suggestion caught me off guard. I stared at the open page for some seconds.

Yes, I can think of the person I love most in the world. My husband, Kevin. I love you, sweetheart! I really do! But—the next words surprised me. “How can you see the presence of God in that person?” I do not think of Kevin in those terms very often. But, here is my attempt.

I see God’s presence in Kevin through his honesty, genuineness, and integrity. Through his appreciation of beauty in language, music, nature, and order in all things. I enjoy and appreciate my husband’s sense of humor and his creativity—both qualities that I know God has in abundance! And, I respect Kevin for his wisdom and discernment.

God, thank You for the gift of knowing Kevin, of having him as my companion, my friend, my husband and my lover. I thank You for the times we have to talk and joke, and for the times to be serious, even somber. I thank You for the opportunities we give each other to be apart from each other, and the trust and respect we have for each other. I thank You for Kevin’s excellent work ethic, and I praise his ability to make music—whether in the style of classical violin, bluegrass, or Irish fiddle music.

Dear God, thank You for the gift of love. I know that the Apostle John said to his readers, “We love, because He first loved us.” Lord, I know Kevin and I can give and receive love freely because of You and Your love for all of us. I am glad of our love, caring, and liking for each other. I pray that You bless that love, and encourage each of us to nourish those positive, loving feelings for each other. In Your mercy, Lord, hear all of my prayers.

This is a worthwhile suggestion. I felt it deeply in my emotional center, as well as my intellect. May I suggest that my readers follow the same example? Carry out and follow the same suggestion? Let me know how you do!

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.

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.

Waiting in silence

A few days ago, one of the passages I meditated on in prayer was the beginning of Psalm 62. I don’t always pray with a specific passage of Scripture in mind, but recently I’ve been using a method of prayer called Benedictine Rumination. (ruminating or chewing repetitively on Scripture—I’ll have to talk more about that, soon)

I was struck by the first part of the first verse of Psalm 62. “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow!

Sometimes, when I encourage my mind, body and spirit to enter into prayer, I feel myself sinking into prayer. This particular prayer time was one of those times. Leaving behind the hurry, the hustle and bustle, the noise, everything distracting or worrisome. I felt a welcome from God, and the gentle silence. Open, friendly, peaceful presence.

Sadly, I was not able to stay there during the whole prayer time. However, I had experienced it for part of it. I knew it was there. I was able to tap into that warm presence, that gentle silence, for some of the time. I really needed it! I sure could use it on a regular basis, God!

I understand that silence is something that makes some people uncertain. Even anxious. Not me. (that is, usually) But I have a difficult time getting there. Your warm, gracious welcoming arms are waiting for me, I know. Thanks for being there. And thanks for being warm and welcoming, instead of cold and distant.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes it’s difficult to enter into prayer, much less break into Your gentle silence. Please help me to leave worry, anxiety and hurry behind. Forgive me for focusing on sad things, angry feelings, and hurt places in my life. I know Your presence is waiting. Thanks for making Your warm, gracious silence available, any time I need it. Any time I want it. Thanks, God. Amen.