Tag Archives: regular prayer

Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 23, 2017


Practice Prayer, Despite Strong Emotions

As I read this short excerpt from How to Sit tonight,[1] I couldn’t help but be reminded of my chaplain internships. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of strong emotions, and how the regular practice of prayer and meditation helps many people manage their emotional state. In all of my chaplain internships, we were shown several helpful ways of dealing with strong emotions (which included prayer and meditation).

Sometimes, strong emotions can carry a person away, devastate them, send them to the heights of ecstasy, or infuriate them beyond all measure. Problem: how to manage yourself and your emotions if you have a really, really strong emotion going in with you? (Believe me, at times in my chaplain internships, as well as my work as a chaplain, I faced some wild, intense emotional situations.)

Thich Nhat Hanh highlights the regular practice of prayer and meditation as a great help to remaining on an even keel, in situations with strong emotion. (I suspect this practice would be a bit easier for someone who had an affinity for quiet, contemplative, meditative prayer and meditation.) I have experienced this firsthand. I know how valuable deep breathing can be, as well as the use of meditation and mindfulness. I can attest to the helpful nature of regular, concerted prayer, for myself, my family or friends, or in intercession for the loved one of someone who asks me for prayer.

My chaplain internships were so worthwhile. (As is my practice of prayer and meditation.) God, thank You for providing such opportunities for me to learn about these wonderful practices. Each and every one. Lord, in Your mercies, hear 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), 72-73.

Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Practice Prayer, Like Practicing Piano

I am not the best at practicing. When I was young, my parents had me study piano. I had to practice. Sadly for me, I was not particularly diligent at regular practicing several time a week between lessons. (Otherwise I would have been much better at playing, at a young age.)

I would skip days, forget to sit down at the piano, and the week would slip by. I would often find myself the day before my lesson, not having practiced at all during that week. Frantic, I would do what I could on that one day. I did progress, even though I was not diligent. What’s more, I truly enjoyed playing the piano—and still do.

I was reminded vividly of this experience with piano practice as I read the short section for today. The teacher Thich Nhat Hanh talks about sitting in meditation and prayer as a luxury. Imagine that! “In our time, in our civilization, sitting and doing nothing is considered either to be a luxury or a waste of time.” [1]

Yes, it is a practice. We need to practice at it. And as I do, I have found that (usually) prayer and meditation becomes easier. Or, more natural. Or, more a part of me—an integral part. Just like piano practice became easier the more I did it, it is similar with this prayer practice.

Why is it that piano practice is still not the first thing on my mind, even though I intellectually understand the benefits? Probably has something to do with my prayer practice. Even though I also realize that a regular time of prayer and meditation would be marvelous for me and my spiritual life, I am afraid I am less than diligent.

God, You know. We have had this discussion a number of times in the past. Thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for loving me. Help me to be more diligent in practice—in both areas. My piano, and my prayer and meditation. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my 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), 68.

More Prayers for a Friend

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 7, 2016


immeasurable prayer power

More Prayers for a Friend

Praying, praying, praying. Yes, I do this on a regular basis.

I have a long-time friend who has been readmitted to the hospital. My friend needs some assistance from the medical staff.  And, has asked for some prayers.

When I was a chaplain in the hospital, I sat with people, listened to people, and consoled people. And when they requested it, I prayed. I was asked to pray for some patients, and their loved ones. I prayed for medical staff, and for traumatic and desperate situations. Even for some people who were actively dying, and for a few dear, departed souls.

Now, my friend has returned to the hospital. I’m praying.

I know there are lots more people in the hospital and in care centers, all across the Chicago area. All across the country, in fact.

God knows all of these people, all these loved ones, and their families. God knows each situation, and each unspoken prayer request rising before the Divine. Please, Lord. Please, listen to all of our prayers. Thank You for the encouragement, the support, and the answers.

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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Beginning As I Mean to Continue: in Prayer

matterofprayer: a year of everyday prayers – Thursday, January 1, 2015

winter road

Beginning As I Mean to Continue: in Prayer

2015: a clean, fresh, bright new year. 365 new days ahead. I started this blog to talk about prayer and meditation, and I mean to continue that way. However—I feel I have a responsibility to my friends and acquaintances who have been telling me in the past few weeks that 2014 has not been a particularly good year for them. Anxiety! Sadness! Grief! Instability of many kinds! No, not particularly good, for many in my acquaintance. I want to make a firm foundation for myself, as well as for others. In prayer.

Therefore, I am going back to basics. I went to my prayer and spiritual formation shelf. (Actually, I need to make that shelves, since I am gathering more and more books on that area, recently.) I pulled a tried-and-true book off the shelf called The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray. A prayer guide in 31 lessons, I’ve used it in the past, to good effect.

In January, then, I will read and pray through James Howell’s devotional book on prayer. (I know I mentioned it here before.) Rev. Howell is a Methodist elder and a knowledgeable person on the subject of prayer. He’s written a marvelous book of instruction. This book shares his insights, as well as those of other knowledgeable people, both living and dead.

Before I go any further, I need to make a confession. I have difficulty being consistent, as far as prayer is concerned. Even though I love to pray, and receive blessing and benefit from regular prayer, I can’t pray every day. At times, I come close! I prayed through the whole month of November this past year, for example! But, I have a need for occasional change, too, because of my personal preferences. (If you speak Myers-Briggs, my preferences are ENFP.)

I shift from one helpful prayer guide to another. (I’m afraid I’m not that constant, as far as prayer guides are concerned.) Since it provides a good foundation, I will be sticking with Rev. Howell’s helpful book through January.

The secondary title of this blog, A Year of Everyday Prayers, is meant to be hopeful. Some might say, even presumptuous! I hope and pray that God will assist me in praying every day. (And, I would appreciate any and all prayers in support and encouragement.) But . . . I will take that one day at a time. I was greatly encouraged by 2014! I successfully blogged each and every day. God willing, I’ll do the same in 2015.

A few significant sentences from this first lesson of prayer are: “ . . . prayer is not a way of getting a grip on our lives of getting things under control. Prayer is the yielding of control. Prayer is discovering I am not the center of the universe.” Let’s pray. God, thanks for the excellent food for thought. Help me—help us as we pray and come to You. Thanks for giving us the understanding that we have a relationship with You, with a good and loving God. In gracious thanks we pray, amen.


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

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, October 9, 2014

FORGIVE forgiveness stone

Busy—Busy—Terribly Busy. Too Busy to Pray?

Have you ever had one of those days—no, one of those weeks when you were so terribly busy that you didn’t even have time to turn around? That’s what my week looks like, this week.

What is high on my priority list, you ask? I am preparing for an exciting event! A presentation on the basics of prayer and meditation. During the past twenty years, I’ve led prayer events, transitioned into adult bible studies, and Sunday school classes for some years. I continued with more training, which led to preaching, group facilitation, presentations and lectures, and some articles. Now, I branch out with this particular presentation, integrating prayer and meditation with basic recovery principles. The time is counting down! Zero hour is fast approaching.

I currently serve as a pastor. Well and good. A busy work life there! I am also a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC). In this latest presentation, I am striving to integrate what I know and have learned about prayer and meditation over the past decades with the wisdom found in the Twelve Steps of recovery.

All this is wonderful! I am doing innovative, edifying work! Praise the Lord! So . . . where’s the problem?

“Busy—busy—terribly busy!” That line from a Veggie Tales song is stuck in my head. I admit it. I am and I have been too busy to pray. It’s not that I haven’t prayed at all for days and days. No. I did find a half hour yesterday morning. But, that’s it for the week. And last week, too. I have not been faithful to my morning routine of over a year—and a hard-won routine it is, too! Ever since last September until last week, I have been praying at least five days a week. For at least half an hour. This is coming from a person who, for decades, had such difficulty finding regular times not only for prayer, but for spiritual disciplines of any kind! (Don’t just take my word for it. Ask my spiritual director of ten years, and my long-time therapist. They’ll tell you.)

I am fessing up, coming clean about my shortcomings. Forgive me, Lord. I know, You’ve heard me again and again, for years, coming to You repeatedly. Saying “I’m sorry,” with my face to the ground. I really meant it, practically every time. And, I really mean it again.

Let’s pray. Gracious God, dear Lord Jesus, You are lover of my soul. I have no other refuge than to seek Your face. Even when I forget to come to You, or get “too busy” to come to You, I know You are my only refuge, my true hope. Thank You for the plenteous grace that will, indeed, cover all my sin. Thank You, dear Lord, that I am invited to hide in You while the storms of life and the busy-ness of the moment fill my mind and clutch at my heart. Thank You for Your gracious, healing presence, now and always. Amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Getting Ready For a Facelift—in our Condo

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, April 3, 2014

LOVE work is visible love

Getting Ready For a Facelift—in our Condo

Getting all my ducks in a row! I am in the process of preparing to have my living room painted in a week. Oh, and a facelift done to the bathroom (new tile, vanity, medicine cabinet, and paint. That’s next week, too. And, in case I forget, a third thing. New carpet will be laid in twelve days. On top of everything else. (Well, not on top of—more like in addition to.) Talk about spring cleaning!

It’s a good thing I started about ten days ago. Giving myself some amount of time. Our agreement with the people who will lay the carpet is that our family will move all our books beforehand and get them out of the apartment. All four floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and six waist-high bookshelves. That’s a lot of books. My daughter and I have been gradually packing them up. My son’s been bringing them down to the basement. That’s the problem with having so many books. I mean, books are marvelous! But, books are also heavy, and can get dusty, and need to be moved from time to time. (Since I have an allergy to dust, I’ve been sneezing regularly, too.)

Amidst all of this uproar in our home, I’ve been considering spring cleaning in other ways, too. God, I am sure I need some spring cleaning in my spiritual house, too. One problem: I am so busy preparing for the workers (coming soon!) that I have difficulty thinking about my spiritual fitness. Thank God that I am praying on a regular basis. (Yay, me!) God, You know how much I have struggled with that, for years and years. Now, it seems to be going fairly well, on a regular basis. At least, for now. I think I’ll take that one day at a time, if You don’t mind. If my prayer life is working, I won’t mess with it.

God, please point out to me an area of my spiritual life that You would like to pay some attention to. For that matter, show it to me, and I’ll try to focus on it. With Your help, You and I together can tackle most any problem. And if I really need help, I have some good friends who also walk this journey with You, too. I think one or two would be happy to give me a hand. Thanks for the push, God. You know I need a push sometimes. Even most of the time.

Let’s pray! Dear God, thank You for spring, and the time for spring cleaning. Forgive me—forgive us—for forgetting about You, or getting too busy to even think about You. Thank You for good friends, who will help me in any spiritual house-cleaning You want me to do. It’s in Your blessed name we pray, Amen.

(also published at http://www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: