Tag Archives: relationship with God

Prayer and Frustration…

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 12, 2018

hugs, hearts

Prayer and Frustration…

If I truly believe in prayer, and in a God who answers prayer, that whole premise can be frustrating. I realize that many people have a “vending-machine” idea of a God who grants wishes. For some, like a huge cosmic Genie, except we are not limited to one three wishes.

Why do I believe in prayer, anyway? It doesn’t work. People still get sick, and have horrible diseases, and devastating accidents. Just look at a pediatric ICU ward. (Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for those suffering, in and out of hospitals and care centers.) Or, stroke unit, or burn unit, or homeless shelter. Or an inner-city police station. Or refugee camp. Or disaster relief center. The list goes on and on.

As Father Nouwen says, “We realize that our world need to change and that no change will ever happen without action, but we often feel lost when it comes to the question of ‘how?’” [1] Actually, two pertinent questions come to mind: “How?” and “How long, O Lord?”

Such desperate frustration does get people up in arms, or confuses them, or causes them to protest, or—in defiance or a wish for oblivion—do nothing, or flee to the bottle or to drugs. Yes, so many are forced to live out their lives in poverty, or pain, or homelessness, or in some other deeply hurting place of body, mind and spirit.

Dear Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. In frustration and agony and surrender, these words come to mind. These words let God know that I realize my dependence on God’s love and mercy and forgiveness. Yes, life is often frustrating! And, yes! God has promised to be with me, every step of the way.

Sure, as Nouwen said, there are ideals of freedom and justice, yet they “are trampled underfoot in everyday practice.” [2] Gracious God, I seek peace, calm, and Your presence. Show me Your love, mercy and forgiveness. Help me to have renewed faith in You, who wants a relationship with me above all else. Even above giving me a soft, easy life, even above any personal frustration I feel on a regular basis. Lord, Your highest goal is to have a relationship with me That’s it. Help me—help us to focus on that aspiration, on that goal. To be loved and known by You, not to get stuff, or money, or power, or prestige. Help me to focus on the things that You want me to. So help me, God.



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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 100.

[2] Ibid, 101.

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.

PEACE: A Personal Relationship with God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, August 14, 2016


rest in God, dove

PEACE: A Personal Relationship with God

A friend and I traveled to the Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago again on Wednesday. We participated—again—in the nightly dinner outreach hosted by the Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK). This was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the good people in the Englewood neighborhood and show them that friends outside of their community care, and are concerned. Friends want to help them strengthen relationships, and bring peace into their streets. Their neighborhood. Their community.

My friend Laura had her face-painting kit, again, and the children loved it. They lined up to have all different kinds of face art painted on their faces. I made myself useful helping out by the serving table, making sure the bottled water was ready to be served, taking care of trash and checking to see that the area around the street corner was neat and tidy.

Yet, I remembered back two weeks, when Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church stopped by that same corner after dinner was cleaned up. The church folks set up a traveling outdoor worship service, just as they do each Wednesday night during the summer. As I finished my good-byes to Mama Knight and several other friends, I had the opportunity to talk with the Senior Pastor of that church, Rev. Walter Matthews.

A personable, earnest man, he was more than ready to share his view of peace. Pastor Matthews’ personal definition: “PEACE is having a personal relationship with God.”  

Just as the Mothers Against Senseless Killing wishes to strengthen relationships between friends in their Englewood neighborhood—on a horizontal plane, so Pastor Matthews wishes to strengthen relationships on a vertical plane—the personal relationship with God, our Redeemer and Friend. As I asked him to elaborate on his personal definition, he said, “I want everyone to have peace with God, so that we are able to have the peace of God.”

Amen! Pastor Matthews, thank you for those good words. May you and your church community have a nurturing, continuing relationship with your neighborhood. Dear God, please help Pleasant Green M.B. Church to continue to be faithful, spreading the Good News of a personal relationship with You. 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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

How Deep is My Faith?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FAITH bible

How Deep is My Faith?

I’ve known that Hebrews 11 is the “Faith chapter” of the New Testament for quite some time. Yes, I know that many devout believers practically swear by this chapter. Oh, it makes So-and-so so firm in his faith. Or, So-and-so depends on the stories she hears from Chapter 11, and tries to make her behavior like several of the saints found there.

When Hebrews 11:1-3 got put into psalm format, when our two authors turned this into a New Testament psalm similar to those in the book Praying the New Testament as Psalms, I found a whole new appreciation for these verses. “God, You are faithful – faithful forever./You cannot deny Yourself.” [1]

Here’s another familiar passage to me. Until it was turned into a Psalm, that is. That gave me a new twist on things. The verse: “May Your word abide in me forever;/believing in the one whom You sent.” [2] This modern-day retelling of these few verses come from John 5:37-38.

A fresh way to express the sentiment and feelings. Faith expresses trust in a person’s relationship with God. Do I have faith? Do I have trust? Do I believe in Jesus, the one whom God sent?

Dear God, You are faithful, indeed. Not only to me, but to everyone. That faithfulness is totally in Your character. Thanks, God.


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.), 70.


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.