Tag Archives: reflection

As We Begin to Pray

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Chicago Botanic Garden, October 2013 - photo credit Kevin Jones

Chicago Botanic Garden, October 2013 – photo credit Kevin Jones

As We Begin to Pray

My daughter, her good friend and I spent some time after dinner at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s a garden, and so much more! Also a living plant museum and research center, the Botanic Garden is almost 400 acres of stunning, landscaped areas, different smaller gardens, and greenhouses. Plus, this gorgeous place with its lagoons, woods and open areas offers a wonderful stopping point for migratory birds. All throughout the year, there are countless things going on at the garden.

Our family is blessed to have a family membership to this marvelous garden—my father-in-law has given us the membership for many years as a Christmas present. It’s one of our family’s favorite things to do on a weekend. Go to the garden.

As you might imagine, August at the Botanic Garden was busting out all over! Myriad different flowers and blossoms, in every shape, color and kind. So wonderful for us to amble through the various walkways, with one vista lovelier than the next.

And then, several hours later, to turn to my prayer website, dailyoffice.org. I have read this opening statement to Evening Prayer countless times: “The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.” However, I was particularly struck by the stunning natural beauty we saw tonight at the Botanic Garden. And then, to cap it off with Evening Prayer? What a peaceful way to end an absolutely lovely evening.

I was curious about the formal definition of Evening Prayer, or Compline, as it is properly named. Here is a helpful definition. “The ancient office of Compline derives its name from a Latin word meaning ‘completion’ (completorium). It is above all a service of quietness and reflection before rest at the end of the day.” [1]

So, Lord. Here we are, at the end of the day. What a perfect ending for a lovely day. Thank You for the beauty of the earth, the wonder of Your creation. Thank You for Your magnificent growing things, as well as the creatures of the water, field and air You have made—like hummingbirds! (Which we saw tonight! My first hummingbird, ever, in real life!) Lord, I’d like to praise You for the infinite variety in Your creation. Help us to be excellent stewards of this stunning beauty and variety. In Jesus’ loving and creative name we pray, Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Visit the website http://dailyoffice.org/ to find out more about Morning and Evening Prayer!

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] https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/worship/texts/daily2/night/introstructurenotes.aspx

Meditation and Reflection, the Ignatian Way

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, May 29, 2015

Trinity - Celtic

Meditation and Reflection, the Ignatian Way

Tonight we look at the next step in a different way of praying, using Ignatian prayer and meditation. I’m using Inner Compass, the book by Margaret Silf. As she says, this meditation and prayer time can be done each night, and can draw the happenings of the day together.

The fourth step in this examination is Reflection. “Reflect peacefully on what has been happening to you and in you today, trusting that your prayer for the light of His Spirit has been granted. Let God show you whatever He may want to show you.” [1]

Silf gives many questions, bullet points of reflection and meditation. Asking things like “How were you drawn to God today?” “Did you bring Christ to those around you?” “Did you come across someone who was lonely, sad, discouraged or in need?” “Did you feel the absence of God in any part of your day?”

These, and many more, are useful prayer points. Points to ponder, and discuss with God.

Certainly, these and many more are points we all need to consider. May God give us discernment, staying power, and openness of heart and mind as we consider. 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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

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

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.

@chaplaineliza

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.

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!

 

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.

Silent Retreat—and Prayer

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, September 20, 2014

psalm 23 bible

Silent Retreat—and Prayer

I went on a silent retreat today. It took place in a church in the middle of downtown. The busy downtown part of a suburb of Chicago. The first—and quite significant—thing the retreat leader, Jay Sivits, said to us at the beginning of the retreat was: “God is glad you came today, and made time in your busy schedules to be with Him.”

I thought about that for a while. God is glad I chose to be with Him today.

Not to get sidetracked in my busy schedule with other things (things I thought were more important than God). Not to worry or fret over things that are mostly—or totally out of my control (and, by the way, forget about God). Not to allow my mind and thoughts to be envious or prideful or angry or lustful—or any one of countless other sins (oh, and ignore God).

The written material in the retreat was excellent. I appreciated the prompts that helped me join this silent retreat fully. Concerns (about myself, others close to me, my work), weariness (of body, mind or spirit), distractions (that occupy or nag at my mind or heart) and fears (“what ifs,” outcomes, expectations). I was encouraged to bring any or all of these things to conscious awareness, as they came to mind, and set them aside. So I might fully enter into the retreat.

The morning focus was on Psalm 23, and the afternoon focus on John 10. As I considered and contemplated on the Good Shepherd, I also did some personal work. Some reflection. Digging. Assessment. Deep prayer and meditation. I don’t often get a chance to do this, but I am so glad I took the time. I am grateful that God gave me the time, and I was able to dig deep.

Some of it was peeling away layers, and uncovering buried thoughts and feelings. Sort of like when I used to rake up underneath my mom’s evergreen bushes in front, or along the side of the house by the underbrush. Raking vigorously uncovered a whole lot inside of me. A lot that I had covered over. Sometimes I covered up the thoughts and feelings in a hurry, and sometimes with sadness, or because I didn’t have more time to deal with them. Not necessarily really painful, but the raking—or digging—sure stirred up a lot of stuff inside of me.

I think this was one of the most valuable facets of this day of silent retreat for me. Thank You, God.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the time I had to be with You today. Jay told me—told us that You are glad I chose to be with You today. I am so grateful and thankful that You chose to be with us today. You chose to be with me today. Dear Lord, help me to continue to dig deep, to continue to reflect and meditate and pray. Sincerely. Deeply. In spirit and in truth. In Your mercy and grace I pray. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Penitence - Larry Poncho Brown

Penitence – Larry Poncho Brown

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. I’ve been doing so much already, it seems like a day-and-a-half has been packed into just a few short hours. Yes, most of what I’ve been doing today is quite necessary. But what does God want from me today? I really ought to slow down and check in with God. See what I need to do to help my spiritual self stay right with my Higher Power.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of preparation before Easter. Today is also Ash Wednesday, a day of holy penitence, confession and absolution. I take the Lenten observance of the cross of ashes on the forehead as a serious, penitential act. But I find I’m not acting like it today. Sure, I’m doing necessary stuff, busy stuff. But I need to slow down. Do some inward reflection on my habitual thoughts, words and deeds. And most importantly, I am advised to do some inward reflection on the state of my soul.

First, before I can even confess my sins of thought, word and deed, and then even ask for God’s forgiveness (much less accept it into my heart and mind), I need to slow down enough to focus on spiritual things. I need to attend to things of God, and not to be distracted by the world. Or even by needful, necessary things that take my eyes off where they need to be. God, help me focus on You, on your forgiveness, grace and mercy.

As I turn to inward reflection, meditation and prayer, I also reflect upon Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. After all, He is the reason that I am here, in prayer. His words to us—to me—to come to Him with our—my heavy burdens. It is Jesus who gives rest to the weary, the sinful, the world-worn. To those burdened with care, with worry, with anger, with unforgiveness, with resentment. God invites me to release all those negative, worrisome mental states and attitudes. God blesses me with the forgiveness of those sinful thoughts, words and deeds of commission (what I’ve done) as well as omission (those I have neglected to do).

Instead of merely writing about confession, forgiveness and pardon, all intellectual-like, let’s actually do it. Let’s pray.

Dear God, We confess to You that we have sinned. Each of us has stubbornly turned to our own way, like those sheep Isaiah talks about. Forgive me, God. Wash me clean, make me white as snow, dear God. Have mercy on me—on us, in Your loving-kindness. Thank You for the Good News of the Gospel, and for the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like a Refiner’s Fire

refiner's fire

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 23, 2013

Like a Refiner’s Fire

It’s almost Christmas Eve. I want to scoot ahead to the time of the Christmas celebration, but we aren’t there yet.

Today, in my Advent reflection, I read Malachi 3:1-3. I was especially struck by the words “For he is like a refiner’s fire . . . and he will purify . . . and refine them like gold and silver.” Yes, I am still waiting, as the practice of Advent encourages me to do. I am watching and waiting for the messenger of the covenant to prepare the way before me, true. But I’m afraid of that other image, too.

I understand the image of the refiner’s fire in principle. But I do not like going through the fire. It’s the being-refined-part that I object to. It hurts! Ow! What gives, God?
I’ve been there, especially in the past number of months with my employment situation. (or difficulty with, or total lack thereof) I understand that I am supposed to reflect God. I’ve heard the analogy of a silversmith melting silver in his shop. He knew that the molten silver had all the impurities taken away when he could see his face in the silver. Gee, silver must really get hot for that to happen! I guess that‘s similar to my situation(s). I earnestly am trying to be faithful, and to follow. Even when the situation’s too hot to handle.

Help me wait for the coming of the Baby in Bethlehem. Soon! Very soon!

Let’s pray. God, I try to follow You. I know You are there by my side, and Your purposes are good and gracious. I know You want me to be faithful, too. Even when I forget You’re there, or get angry because things aren’t going my way, or just get sick and tired of waiting for You. God, forgive me. Help me to continue to wait. Be with me when things get too hot to handle. Protect me when I’m being tried by fire. God, thanks for Your constant presence through every situation, even in this almost-Christmas, still-waiting time. Amen.