Tag Archives: Scripture

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.

What If Prayer Doesn’t Happen?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HEAL I have heard your prayer and I will heal

What If Prayer Doesn’t Happen?

I opened the book Inner Compass a little while ago, and I read a little bit. But—I am not feeling the best. What do I do when that happens?

It’s true, I sometimes feel under the weather. Or, not one hundred percent. But I almost always am able to pray, and write, and think about the topic of the day or the chapter of the book I am currently reading. Except, today. (I suspect I have a sinus headache, which is terribly distracting to me.)

I read in the book today that I need to express my feelings to God in prayer, and not to hold back. As if I could possibly hide anything from God, anyhow. That’s what Ignatian spirituality and prayer is advising me to do today, apparently.

So, here goes. God, I am feeling sick, and weak, and a little lightheaded. My head is hurting—and it feels like elephants are tromping on my eyes. I haven’t had a sinus headache for some time, but it’s here right now. Oh, joy.

Lord, I can’t even begin to consider reading a Scriptural passage today. I know You are supposed to open my heart to Scripture. I do thank You for doing that. Except—not today. I feel badly. Here, I am supposed to pray, and I don’t. I can’t. I mean, I am not really able to.

Please, Lord, help my headache go away. Please.

@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 .

Using Scripture in Prayer—the Light to My Path

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 10, 2015

PRAY God's word light to my path PS119

Using Scripture in Prayer—the Light to My Path

Scripture—one of my favorite helps for praying. And, one of the ways that is most easily accessible to me, too! Now, that is for me, and not for everyone. (See my related post from Friday, found here: Ways to Pray—the Individual Way http://wp.me/p43g3i-6o)

Because of my personality, temperament, and way of dealing with the world and with my inner self, I find that scripture is an easily-used tool for prayer. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is found in Psalm 119, that wonderful acrostic Psalm that uses God’s Word as a theme and centerpiece in its composition and in each verse. Psalm 119:105 reads “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” So true. God’s Word not only helps me know how to pray and why I am to pray, but it also assists me in the wording and vocabulary of prayer.

A steady diet of Scripture and regular bible reading and study helps me keep on an even keel, and assists me to stay anchored in God’s will and ways. Otherwise, who knows where I would end up? Probably bobbing somewhere in the ocean of my own self-indulgent thoughts and feelings.

Is there someone out there who has a question about wordless prayer? As the Apostle Paul mentioned in Romans 8, what about those prayers that are so deep that we can’t even find any words for them? Well, yes. So true. The letter to the Roman believers lets us know that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray, and even helps us when we don’t have any words to express our deepest longings, those deepest desires and groans that come out of the depths of our souls.

No matter what the situation, God is so pleased when we read the Bible. What a wonderful way for me to get more familiar with God’s will and ways.

Through reading God’s Word, I can more readily know and understand what pleases God, and how to experience and communicate God’s love.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for the Bible. Help me—help us to read it regularly, so that we can understand You and Your character. Thank You for this excellent opportunity to know You in spirit and in truth. Thank You for hearing us when we pray. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

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.

How Ought I Pray?

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, July 23, 2014

God create in me a clean heart

How Ought I Pray?

Prayer is amazing. Truly! But, not for everyone. That is, not in everyone’s experience.

There are as many different kinds/manners/methods of prayer as there are people involved praying. Each of us is an individual, and each of us has a unique way of coming before God.

A woman I very much admire uses centering prayer regularly. She chooses one single word, and then goes deep. Meditates and prays using that word, for twenty minutes, a half hour at a time. She has kids, who are getting bigger and older now, but that she is able to use centering prayer on a regular basis—with kids around!—is even more astounding to me!)

I have done centering prayer on occasion, too. (My word is often “Emmanuel,” since I am repeatedly amazed at how Jesus comes alongside of us—of me. Emmanuel, God with us.) Although, I have sometimes used other words, like “peace” or “grace,” or “Jesus.” Whatever you choose, it can be a remarkable, quiet, reflective way to pray.

Personally, I really gravitate towards using Scripture to assist me in my prayer time. But that’s me. I enjoy lectio divina and Benedictine rumination. I even use a Bible concordance on occasion, and research the Greek and Hebrew roots, or verbs, or meanings of these various words used in Scripture. And then, I can pray through those words or understandings.

But, on occasion—I find I do not even have words. I cannot frame my yearnings, the deepest wishes or cries of my heart, in intelligible language. It is then that I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit, for coming alongside of me. As a Paraclete, an Advocate. Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit is there to intercede for us, right beside us. The blessed Holy Spirit even groans for us, and with us, and is our interpreter. The Spirit brings those requests and cries, too deep for words, before the heavenly Throne Room.

Thank God there is someone who can help me communicate. I have difficulty even communicating, much less with specific situations, events, opportunities and people!

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, sweet Holy Spirit, thank You for helping us with our prayers. Sometimes my words come out all crooked, or misshapen. Or, they can be mean and evil towards people I am called to love. Forgive me for my shortcomings. Help me—help us to draw closer to You In prayer, and in every other way. In Your mercy, Lord, hear our prayer.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

God Has a Purpose

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, January 18, 2014

ocean sunset

ocean sunset

God Has A Purpose

I did a good deal of computer work and read several blogs online today, since it was my day off. Including one blog I’ve been following for a number of weeks. The narrative the author of the blog talked about was from the Book of Judges, from the Hebrew Scriptures. The contents of the blog post struck me so strongly today, I decided to meditate and pray with that passage, Judges 6, the story of Gideon. Specifically, verses 11 and 12.

I’ve known various manners of prayer for years. Moreover, I was instructed in spiritual formation and prayer practices when I went to seminary. Very helpful, and deepening to my spiritual understanding! But over the past two years, I’ve regularly been praying and meditating using a basic plan of holy reading, lectio divina. There are a number of good instructional books out there, giving some guidelines on holy reading. However, the book I’ve been using (on and off) is by Rev. Martin Smith, a skilled spiritual director and now a retired Episcopal priest. His book The Word Is Very Near You is subtitled A Guide to Praying with Scripture. He gives these guidelines for lectio divina in Chapter 8.

He suggests “1. Spend a few minutes settling down and pray that your heart may be opened and receptive to the gift God knows you need today. . . . 2. Begin reading at the place you have previously chosen, and read on very slowly indeed with an open mind. . . . 3. When a particular sentence or phrase or single word “lights up” or “rings a bell,” put the Bible down. Resist the temptation to go on. . . . 4. Gently repeat this phrase or word again and again within the heart . . . Gradually allow yourself to be absorbed in the word. . . . 5. Express to God in the simplest way the impression the words have made on you. . . . put into words the longings or needs they have brought up. . . . Your prayer may move into contemplation.”

Thus, with some variation, I have often prayed since I read these simple instructions.

Today I was particularly struck by this passage from Judges, so I practiced holy reading with chapter 6, verses 11 and 12. God communicated to me that I have been called and chosen, just as Gideon was called and chosen. Gideon had a problem with low self-esteem, certainly. I have that difficulty, too. Gideon was the youngest in his family—same, here. (I can relate to Gideon, in several significant ways. I, too, need regular fleeces, confirming the way in which I am to go.) But the words that hit me right between the eyes today were those of the Angel of the Lord: “mighty warrior.” The Angel named Gideon by what God knew he was, who he really was. This is particularly important, because it is not what Gideon thought of himself, which was a flawed and incorrect perception.

I get downhearted and depressed by life, and how things can be rocky sometimes. Even often. What I think of myself is often a flawed and incorrect perception of myself. But these words give me hope. God has named me “beloved child” and “God’s masterpiece.” Who am I to think that I am less than that? Thanks for the two thumbs up, God! It’s awfully heartening. Loving, too!

Let’s pray. Dear God, You named Gideon “mighty warrior” because You saw him as You intended him to be. Forgive us for viewing ourselves incorrectly, through a blurry window pane or dark mirror. Thank You for Your clear sight, seeing me as You made me, not in the flawed way I see myself. Help us to see ourselves in the heartening, loving way You perceive us. As Your beloved children, as Your masterpiece! Thank You, thank You, God.  

@chaplaineliza