Tag Archives: relationship

Prayer. All By Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 17, 2018

monk kneeling at prayer

Prayer. All By Myself.

Father Nouwen says some intriguing things on these pages, in discussing inner silence—or, not so silent. Oh, how difficult it is to turn off that internal dialogue! Many people cannot stop that chatter, that constant whispering or commentary or even that committee in their own heads. “When there is no one to talk to, and no one to listen to, an interior discussion starts up which almost seems to get out of hand.” [1]

Yes, when I was a tween and teen, I disliked being alone. I liked to be with people. Even into my twenties, I wanted to be with people almost all the time, and did not care to be alone for very long. (By the way, that aspect of myself has changed.)

Have I changed, all that much? Sure, I enjoy, even relish being alone today. I can be silent sitting next to my husband, while both of us are working on the weekends. It’s a companionable silence, between the two of us. Dear Jesus, is that the kind of thing You are looking for? Is that the relationship You would like with me?

I am sad to say that I still feel some awkwardness in prayer. Yes, I have prayed for decades, and I still occasionally have deep and significant times of prayer. However, the prayer interactions are not always comfortable for me. Sometimes, it seems too stressed and forced (on my part, not on the other end).

Dear Lord, help me to feel comfortable with You, more regularly. Thank You for the possibility to be silent before You. Thank You for the love and caring You show to me, on a regular basis. I know I am not in a good situation…but as long as I am here together with you, Lord, I don’t have to worry. Father Nouwen is certainly correct; being calm and quiet takes a great deal of attention, but it is worth it. A relationship with my dear Lord Jesus? Thank You, Lord.

@chaplaineliza

 

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, 1972), 19.

Prayer—No Easy Matter

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 20, 2018

honest definition

Prayer—No Easy Matter

When I read this first reflection on prayer by Henri Nouwen, his words penetrated me deeply. (Again, I might add. I have a feeling this will happen to me again and again as I read through this short book.) I am unashamedly a fangirl of Fr. Nouwen. His profound writing and superb choice of words consistently hits home. Now, if I could just get his words to remain in my brain and imprinted on my heart…

He speaks of a deep relationship, a no-holds-barred relationship between me and the other. (Or, should I say the Other? I have always honored God with capitalization, as much as possible.) In any case, Fr. Nouwen talks of a deep resistance, as well. Giving the illustration of a woman admitted to a psychiatric center [1] who absolutely refuses to open her fist until it is pried open to reveal a coin…makes me think hard. How much am I trying to hide from God?

As Fr. Nouwen says, “When we are invited to pray we are asked to open our tightly clenched fists and to give up our last coin. But who wants to do that?” [2] This can be such a painful process. Even though some may cry out of that deep place of pain and anguish, the whole process can be painful. Just deciding to begin to pray can be filled with anguish. “You feel it is safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with small clammy coins which you don’t want to surrender.” [3]

Dear Lord, how difficult it is to be totally honest. Even though You know everything already, just like a wise, benevolent earthly parent, I feel awkward, and shy, and ashamed, and resentful. Disappointed, jealous, sad, and angry, too. Why is it that deep emotions get in the way of my relationship with You so readily? Clutching these yucky emotions to my chest as if they were treasures is not in my best interests. Lead me to understand this deep truth that Fr. Nouwen brings to my attention.

Let us pray. Gracious God, loving Heavenly Parent, You are patient and merciful. You are also all-knowing, so I cannot hide from You—as much as I want to. As the psalmist reminds me, even if I flee to the depths of the sea or the highest mountain, You are still there. You are still with me, no matter what happens. Help me to be honest with You. You love me. Help me emblazon those words on my heart. In Jesus’s precious name we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

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, 1972), 3.

[2] Ibid, 4.

[3] Ibid.

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 21, 2017

Psa 42 deer, soul

Soul Athirst for God, and Psalm 42

I haven’t ever been in a desert. I haven’t ever been really, truly thirsty. However, I know much of the land where the Bible was written is either desert or semi-arid. Lots of people in the Bible were seriously thirsty, some more often than not.

Yet, Psalm 42 talks about thirst on at least two levels. Yes, actual, physical thirst. The kind that is a physical need. However, the psalm also speaks of thirsting after God. “As the deer longs for the water brooks…” The psalmist’s soul is thirsting after God, after some knowledge of the Almighty. Yes, even thirsting after the close relationship with God.

Do I do that? Can I say that I have a close relationship with You, O God?

With Dietrich Bonhoeffer I earnestly pray, “Lord God, awaken in my soul a great longing for You. You know me and I know You. Help me to seek You and to find You. Amen.” [1]

Along with the sons of Korah, I can readily say that my soul is athirst for the Lord. Sometimes.

Lord, why am I so wishy-washy? I only too well know, as Bonhoeffer says, “the thirst of our passion for life and good fortune.” [2] From time to time, I even cringe when I think of how I have left You behind, thoughtlessly tossed You aside to go after my own affairs and interests.

Dear Lord, forgive me. Help me to amend my ways. Help all of us to walk in Your ways. 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 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 55.

[2] Ibid.

God’s Law and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Exod 20 ten commandments word cloud

God’s Law and Meditation

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some fascinating words to say about the Ten Commandments. Just two paragraphs are quoted in this chapter of Meditating on the Word, but they give us a glimpse of what Bonhoeffer was thinking. “It is grace to know God’s commands,” he said.  Knowing God’s commands—God’s laws—helps us to understand conflict. What is more, God’s laws help to set us free from “self-made plans.”  Intriguing!

Of great important is the beginning of the commandments, for we are messing up that relationship in Exodus 20. “I am the LORD your God.” According to Bonhoeffer, the “I” of the commandments is the Almighty God, and we are called into intimate relationship with God.

When we break one (or more) of God’s commands, the rules are not just of human origin. Bonhoeffer reminds us that we transgress against God. We break God’s commands in our disobedience, not mere human ones, and it is serious, indeed.

If we add to the law God is certainly in charge of, we see Bonhoeffer’s amazement; God dispenses grace through the Ten Commandments, as well. The Ten Commandments ”are not detachable, as if we could  somehow separate God’s will from God Himself.” [1]

God’s grace comes to us from God’s word. This—Exodus 20—as   is as surely God’s revelation as punitive sections of the Mosaic Law as well as many of the Prophets and their writings. God is revealed with mighty power throughout this interaction.

Dear Lord, help me to understand Your abundant grace. Even in the midst of diversity. Dear God, thank You for being on our side, with grace, with love, and with Your open arms of compassion and forgiveness. In Your mercy, hear us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 13.

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, April 22, 2017

O for a thousand, words and cross

Worship with Charles Wesley’s Hymns

Ah, Charles Wesley. That great writer of hymns! He and his brother John were also the founders of a renewal group within the Church of England that later became the Methodist denomination.

As a church musician and lover of traditional hymnody, I have loved the Wesleys’ hymns for decades. I was excited to see Charles Wesley figure into this collection of spiritual giants, and excerpts from their writings. I read the complete, additional stanzas that Charles Wesley wrote, on the anniversary of his “second birth.” As I read this oh-so-familiar hymn, I could not but help but sing it as I read. (To the tune of AZMON, of course.)

I knew Wesley had written lots of verses for this hymn, and had even read several more than most hymnals usually print. However, this reading is the most complete I have yet seen.

He begins the first verse with praise to God. (As is perfectly appropriate.) The second verse makes mention of his anniversary! That “glad day the glorious Sun/of righteousness arose; on my benighted soul he shone/and filled it with repose.” [1]

I, too, feel as if my soul is benighted, sometimes. (Even after I know I have a relationship with God.) However, the third verse comes to my aid! “Sudden expired the legal strife,/’twas then I cease to grieve; my second, real, living life/I then began to live.” [2] Here at last I am comforted with the understanding that Jesus has, indeed, paid it all. He has cancelled the legal debt I owed, and set me free. I no longer need to grieve or be afraid.

So, then, I can sing with Christians from all over the world, for centuries, “O for a thousand tongues to sing/my great Redeemer’s praise! The glories of my God and King,/the triumphs of his grace.” [3] Indeed, His blood can make the foulest clean—and I believe Jesus’s blood covers my sins. Praise His name! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus, my Jesus. Amen. Alleluia.

@chaplaineliza

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), 259.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 260.

Solitude, Seen by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, March 24, 2017

 

ocean waves and rocks

Solitude, Seen by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I know very little about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, other than the fact she was married to Charles Lindbergh (first person to make the solo transatlantic flight in May 1927). I was unexpectedly moved by the excerpt from her writing A Gift from the Sea, a meditation on marriage. She wrote this while in complete solitude for a month, on an island on the Atlantic shore. [1]

Her primary interest and topic—judging from this short excerpt—seems to be marriage and relationship. However, solitude as a spiritual discipline weaves in and out of her writing.

“A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules….First touch, intimate touch of the personal and particular (the chores in the kitchen, the talk by the fire); then the loss of intimacy in the great stream of the impersonal and abstract (the silent beach, the bowl of stars overhead).” [2]

As Morrow Lindbergh describes the on-again, off-again nature of closeness, I see her repeated reference to the ebb and flow of the tide. “Is there not a clue to the problem of relationships as a whole? Is there not here even a hint of an understanding and an acceptance of the wingèd life of relationships, of their eternal ebb and flow, of their inevitable intermitteency?” [3]

As someone who has been in a long-term relationship myself, I can see how this “inevitable intermittency” can be an actuality for many. Solitude for a whole month might appeal more to my husband than to me, yet I can see places and rhythms where solitude has some definite attraction.

Interesting that this reading suggests that I examine my relationship with my husband. (and, similar to others, who might be led to take a closer look at their own significant relationships) Dear God, thank You for this different kind of internal viewing and questioning, where I am not only examining myself and my internal Self, but I am also led to examine my marriage and close relationship. Help me to take an honest and gentle assessment. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 141.

[2] Ibid, 142.

[3] Ibid, 143.

@chaplaineliza

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.

Simplicity, Seen by A.W. Tozer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 18, 2017

simplicity_in_action

Simplicity, Seen by A.W. Tozer

Somehow, I find myself agreeing with Reverend Tozer about this spiritual discipline, completely. As I zero in on his description of “things,” it seems to me to be so right. Hitting the nail right on the proverbial head. Let’s just sample what he says:

“Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him a world of useful and pleasant things for his sustenance and delight. In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply “things.” They were made for man’s use, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him.” [1]

Wow. Double wow. Those three sentences are densely packed. Let’s take just a couple of thoughts that quote spark in my mind.

“Useful and pleasant:” that implies these “things” were brought into being as beneficial and even fun, not to mention useful and needful. Moreover, humans are to take pleasure in these “things.” (What a concept!) Even further, humans must figure out a positive and encouraging (not to mention ‘nurturing’) relationship to have with “things.”

That means, no spree buying, no hoarding, no addiction, no gambling, no workaholism. What’s more, that means no jealousy, no anger (over things), and no coveting (either things or people who own things). I can well see how Rev. Tozer talks so freely about “the tyranny of things.”

Dear Lord, what (or, who) do I want or crave or can’t live without? Please, Lord, help me to understand myself better, and turn over the tyranny in my own life and heart. Help me to strive to live a simpler life.

@chaplaineliza

 

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), 111.