Tag Archives: relationship

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.

Pray Like a Show-off.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 24, 2017

luke-18-pharisee-and-tax-collector

Pray Like a Show-off.

There are many, many books on prayer and meditation, from any number of faith traditions and religious orientations, both modern and ancient. I very much appreciate this little volume by the teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. I have read a fair amount of books by Christian writers on prayer and meditation, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Thus, the little book by the Buddhist teacher, featuring prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and how to sit (in meditation and prayer).

As I read the short portion for today, I was vividly reminded of a section from one of the Gospels. First, from How to Sit: “There are some people who sit in a very funny way; they try to show that they are practicing sitting meditation.” [1] This reminded me so strongly of Matthew 6, verse 5, where Jesus tells those listening, “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

What a show-offy thing to do! Whether it is sitting meditation, out in the open where everyone could see, or praying loudly on the street corners, where everyone could (likewise) see, this person’s inside attitude of the heart is not quite on target.

What could I do, to avoid such a predicament? The first thing I can do is to get my inside attitude oriented toward God (or, Ha Shem, or the Higher Power). If my inside orientation is straight, my outward expression and practice has a much better chance to be oriented in a God-ward manner.

The second thing I need to focus on is my relationship toward God. I suspect this (imaginary) person’s eyes were on other people, in both the case of Thich Nhat Hahn’s example as well as that in the Gospel of Matthew. That person’s number one priority was the horizontal relationship, with other people. I think Jesus would say—every time—that our number one relationship needs to be with God. The vertical relationship is primary. God comes first. Then, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for the excellent lesson, dear God. Now, comes the hard part: putting it into practice. Help me, Lord. Help me both practice prayer and meditation more regularly, as well as keep my relationship with You number one in my life. 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] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 37.

How Should I Then Pray?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, November 26, 2016

jigsaw-puzzles-615x200-ehow-images-800x800

How Should I Then Pray?

A new year. Yes, tomorrow begins the liturgical year again, with the first Sunday in Advent. That season of hope and expectation, where we wait for the birth of the Christ Child with baited breath. Well, not really. That is, not everybody does. Even in the church.

I feel like I am running as fast as I can, and I still haven’t caught up. I don’t have a chance of catching up. (Alice, I fully sympathize with you in your conversation with the Red Queen.) The turning of the seasons is getting faster and faster all the time.

These two seemingly disparate things are connected. So many people are scattered and fragmented—including me. Pulled in many different directions. It is increasingly difficult to focus on one thing (even when it’s so important, as the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ). That is, when there are so very many things calling for my attention.

Dear Lord, help me to slow down. Help me to sift through the urgent and important, and focus on the one thing that I need. The one thing that gives me nurture and strength. My relationship with You, dear Lord. Help me bring my other needs, pains, joys and concerns to You, too, because then I will not be distracted. Gracious God, in Your mercy, hear my 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

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 31, 2016

lord-teach-us-to-pray

Gentle Prayers, Remembering Prayers

When I was small—four, I think—my grandmother moved in with us. I remember feeling badly that my sweet grandmother could not live on her own any longer. My mom and her siblings agreed that Grammy ought to come to live with us. Except—I did not really know how to pray. Yet.

I was the youngest of a large family. I remember Grammy trying vaguely to teach me to pray. Gentle prayers were a possibility, but Grammy was not in the kind of mental frame to teach anyone how to pray. Looking back on the next few years of my childhood with an adult’s point of view, I think they are hardly positive, considering the sad downhill journey of my grandmother.

Gentle prayers helped me, eventually. And, I know writing helped, too. After my Grammy died of complications from stroke, I remembered her with great fondness. I wished so much that we could have a relationship. Not a full one. Gentle prayers, remembering prayers kept those things about her in my mind

Here is a poem by Ray Bradbury. More of the same sadness.

O dear sweet dead, come home and welcome here.
Lost in the dark but always dear.
Do not wander,
Do not roam.
Dear ones,
Come home, Come home.

~Ray Bradbury

Remembering my loved ones. May they experience God’s comfort, encouragement and love. May those who have passed into God’s presence rest from their labors.

@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

A Day in Which I Pray Several Times

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Day in Which I Pray Several Times

definition-of-prayer

Prayer is what this blog is about. Mostly, that is.

I prayed several times today. And, this evening. Today was the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. I prayed with my online prayer group, www.dailyoffice.org – and then, a little while later, I prayed by myself. Benedictine Rumination, on John 1. I prayed in the afternoon, and then the evening.

Who struggles with prayer? I know I do. Finding time to pray. Finding the words to pray. Your mind wanders or your emotions are all over the place. Or, you’re so competent, and in control, so you don’t need to pray.

What is the matter with all of these difficulties? Interacting with God puts our lives into proper focus. God wants a relationship with us.

What do people do when they finally figure out that there is much in life that is NOT in our control? (Not much is, actually.) There are NO right or wrong answers to these questions. They are to get people thinking about prayer. I try to think about prayer on a regular basis. I really do.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for giving us a way of connecting with you on a personal level. In an intimate way. Help me to draw close to You on a regular basis. Lead me—lead us 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

Place of Prayer Protection

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, January 13, 2016

God - refuge and strength Psa 46

Place of Prayer Protection

People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. No man is an island, and all that. Each person has a connection with each other person. Connection, attachment, kinship, relationship. We do need each other. But, that isn’t all.

I know I need a relationship with my God. If I am separated from God, I am in bad straits. Cut off from God and cut off from other people? Not a very good situation, at all.

How our enemy loves to cut us off from each other, and separate each one from God. How dare they? I’ll tell you: through natural happenings, through human error, through emotional or psychological or physical attachment gone awry. And sometimes, through something as straightforward as loneliness, or grief, or anger, or boredom, or fear.

What can you and I do about this? The answer in part is: prayer. Prayer stands as a protection and strength.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for Your presence. I appreciate You acting as a refuge and strength. God, You are my rock and fortress, sure to be there for me and with me. I know the Lord is there when I go through the thick of things. Just like King David said, even though each of us is walking down the solitary path through the valley of shadow. No matter! We are still on God’s side. And, God will keep each one under the shadow of heavenly wings. Thank God.

@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

Mary and a “Yes” to God’s Request

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, December 7, 2015

The Annunciation -  Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a vintage Christmas greeting illustration (circa 1910)

The Annunciation –
Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, a vintage Christmas greeting illustration (circa 1910)

Mary and a “Yes” to God’s Request

From time to time, I hear about people wondering how Mary could have said “yes” to God. Some people truly think about this, and think deeply. Sorry. I don’t think I ever did.

Similarly, from time to time, I understand people also wonder how Mary and Joseph interacted with each other, as well as the people along the way. When these curious people bring such a thought to my attention.

I wonder more about logistics. And about having a child too far ahead of time. How were the other townspeople affected? Was Mary ostracized? Shunned? Or, were there a few good friends who staying true to Mary, even though she was pregnant out of wedlock?

Even though I have never wondered about that particular wrinkle of the Advent narrative, I can still appreciate the “yes!” that Mary communicated to God. “Yes” to pregnancy. And as Henry Nouwen says, “yes” to the idea of me—of us—claiming that space of childhood. Becoming as children before God. Accepting God’s invitation into relationship as God’s beloved child.

I have no problem with that. I know I am like a toddler to God. God is my loving, caring Heavenly Parent. I guess that is a big enough wonderment for me.

Dear Lord, gracious Heavenly Parent, prepare my heart to receive the Lord Jesus once more as we remember His birth in Bethlehem, in this Advent time of preparation and waiting.

@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

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

What Has Shaped Me? In Prayer?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 14, 2015

keep me inn the spirit of prayer

What Has Shaped Me? In Prayer?

I have found that the way of Ignatian prayer and meditation seems deceptively simple, yet somehow not. And, definitely not easy.

The first exercises found in Inner Compass involve prayer and meditation. Yes, prayer with imagery, using Scripture. Yet, prayer and meditation pointed toward some deep questions. Questions that can break me wide open and leave me painfully raw. (It’s no wonder that a good, competent guide or spiritual director is strongly recommended, when embarking on this sort of a spiritual journey!)

Today, the question strongly attracting me is: how am I personally relating to God, right now? A follow-up question, how do I feel about that relationship?

Margaret Silf recommends that I read one of the suggested Scripture passages until it is familiar to me. Then, ask God to open my heart to discern its meaning(s) for me, personally. And, then, look at how the passage touches my life’s journey. That is Silf’s method of using Scripture in prayer.[1]

Psalm 139 is the passage that jumped out at me, from the references she suggested. And, goodness knows I am familiar enough with the passage. Yes, I am infinitely valuable to God. When I was being formed in secret, as well as right now. Yes, God knows me so much better than anyone else in the whole world. Such knowledge is too deep for me. It blows my mind.

There are several more things I gleaned from this passage, and I didn’t even spend a great deal of time on it! Dear Lord, thank You for these words of King David. Help me to learn from these verses. Reveal those things You wish for me to understand. Thank You, Lord.

@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 .

[1] Silf, Margaret, Inner Compass: Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1999), 22.

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 2, 2015

ocean shore and shells

Day #38 – Can I Open Up?

I am guilty, I admit it. I have quickly responded “I’m fine!” to the question “How are you?” Even when I was not, really, fine.

Sometimes, I knew that the person asking was only looking for a quick answer. Even, a superficial answer. Merely passing the time of day. Occasionally, I suspected the person asking me the question was making acceptable or expected social noises. (You can feel in your gut and know deep down when that happens. I don’t need to spell it out.)

But sometimes. Sometimes. The person was truly, honestly looking for information. Wishing for a connection. Striving to develop that relationship. And I? I was having none of it. Or, perhaps even worse, I just did not have time.

Mea culpa, Lord. Mea culpa.

At least I regularly show others that I am interested in their extended answers! When I do the same thing, ask the same questions, I sometimes get the long answer from my conversation partner, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it is more than okay. Showing emotion and crying and letting down one’s guard? Totally okay, as far as I am concerned.

Goodness knows that I have sometimes been guilty of it, and answered back in a dismissive or evasive response. Or, simply been too busy to engage.

My current job does complicate things, though. I am a pastor at a local church. I do try to be accessible, open, affirming, nurturing, and interested in everyone I meet. I really do try! Yet, I need to maintain some degree of professionalism. Remain warm and engaged, with a healthy dose of empathetic understanding. Plus, balance that with some basic relational, psychological and emotional engagement principles. It is a juggling, balancing act, to be sure!

Thank goodness that I have some good friends and acquaintances outside of my work. I especially appreciate the people I am now connected to through the Internet. Through Facebook, and Twitter. Two particular groups of people allow me to be honest, open and genuine. I can engage in lively debate, friendly (sometimes snarky) banter, and downright foolishness, if I want to! I feel I can lay down my cards on the table, and don’t need to be as careful of professional boundaries. What freedom!

So, yes. I have been aware of the ubiquitous “How are you?” and the tepid response “I’m fine” for the past few years. And God is working with me, with that. God really is. I know. I do appreciate the reminder. Good to be brought back to what is important in life. Again. Thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #22 – Time to Spend with Others, Time to Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 14, 2015

one another word cloud

Day #22 – Time to Spend with Others, Time to Pray.

As I read today’s suggestion for #40acts, one of the first people I thought of was a good friend of mine who lives a distance from here. In other words, I can’t just run over and see her on a whim. At the drop of a hat. No, since I need to drive a few hours to where she lives, I need to set aside a block of time. Intentionally. Happily, I was able to do exactly that, in December! And, I hope to spend some time with her again, soon.

I enjoy people! I enjoy spending time with them, going places, having good times. But—this takes time. I have some important responsibilities, and—sadly—I have less time to devote to my good friends. (Like this particular good friend I have in mind.)

I know that many people center their relationship with God around money. How much they give—their treasure, and how God can use it. I agree with the author of today’s #40acts post when he emphasizes that time is also an integral part of the relationship with God. How much time an individual spends with God, or for God, or thinking about God is a telling part of how much God means in that individual’s life. And heart.

Spending time with friends and loved ones can be a meaningful way to keep in touch. To show people you care. To express love to others as well as to God.

Yes, both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke state “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This can be true, in terms of money. But as we treasure our time, and hoard up our time, and parcel out our time—this verse takes on a whole new meaning if we think of it in more than in terms of treasure, tithing and mere money.

We can be free and open-handed with our time just as much as we can be free and open-handed with money. Thanks, God, that I already have my mind oriented towards giving You time. For a while, that was mostly what I had to give! Help me to set aside time on a regular basis. This precious commodity. My time. Our time.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .