Tag Archives: silence

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 17, 2017

candles, votive prayer

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

In this final word on the psalm, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did his usually excellent job. Not only did he talk about Psalm 62, but he also mentioned those who might not be enjoying close relations with God. “And then we wait and wait for years, perhaps to the end of our lives, until we once again are in the mood for religion.” [1]

How sad, and lonely for the unnamed person. As Bonhoeffer said in such a way, “We must learn the language of God, carefully learn it, work hard at it, so that we will be able to speak to Him.” [2]

Yes, it is indeed sad and lonely that a host of people are foundering in their times of prayer and meditation. And, some even do not make the attempt at communicating with God. “Why should I? I’ve tried a few times, and nothing at all happened.” Or “I am not religiously inclined.” So sad.

I have prayed to God, indeed. God and I are more of close friends than not. However, my attention can easily falter. My prayer and silence before God? “Certainly, it will be harder for one person than for another, but we may be sure that no one can advance without work. It takes daily fortitude to expose ourselves to God’s Word and to allow ourselves to be judged by it..” [3]

Wow! That sounds like prayer and meditation takes commitment, time and diligence. I must confess I do not have that commitment all the time. Forgive me, dear Lord.

Bonhoeffer closes with that wonderful quote from St. Augustine: “Lord God, you have made all things for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” We have a Friend whose ears are always open, always with arms ready to embrace all who come close.

Thank You, God, for Your love and caring. Dear 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), 54.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Psa 62 my soul in silence

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on Psalm 62 early in his ministry, when he served as assistant pastor to a German congregation in Barcelona. He took as his text verse 1: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”

“To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.” [1] When we are silent before God, what happens? I realize that some people—mistakenly—think that means to become completely blank and without thought. While I understand some forms of meditation involve some sort of emptying one’s mind of thoughts, I don’t think this is the kind of directed meditation and prayer that God wants us to do.

Bonhoeffer rightly goes on to say that some people grumble that only few become aware of those deep, loving, profound things that God wishes to say. God does, indeed, speak winning words to us: “I love you.” Yet, why is it that relatively few people fully realize the enormity of God’s personal love, caring and guidance in each person’s life?

“…We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.” [2] Oh, how perceptive of Herr Pastor Dietrich! As Bonhoeffer mentions, these times are comfortless, even fruitless.

I know so well that merry-go-round of the urgent, of the necessary, of the endless to-do list. And, what about the demands of work? The voices and cries of the children, the aging parents, and the extended family? The rounds of the visits, the events, and religious obligations. I don’t have any quick fix, sadly. The extremes of becoming a martyr to all of the busy-ness or trying to set up walls of obliviousness both confront me.

Dear Lord, preserve me from all such clutter in my head and heart. Lead me to come before You in spirit and in truth, seeking after Your presence, Your silence. And then, may I seek after Your will in my thoughts, words and life. Please, God, may it be so.

@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), 49.

[2] Ibid, 50.

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 7, 2017

Psa 62 word cloud

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Have you ever wondered about young pastors—or ministers? Still in training, some pastors need time to practice their craft. In some churches (and seminaries), a pastor-in-training is called an intern, or student pastor. The typical job of a pastor is multi-faceted, and a person sometimes is not fully skilled at every aspect of the pastorate until some years have passed.

Just so with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training for a number of months. While serving as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona, he preached this particular sermon on Psalm 62. The psalmist in verse 1 calls for a time of silence before prayer and meditation: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” And Bonhoeffer paraphrases: “Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.” [1]

Sure, Bonhoeffer had definite ideas about meditation and how much scripture means to be practicing both prayer and meditation. “Being silent means unable to say anything more; it means that a strange but dear hand has placed itself upon our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally—capitulating to the overwhelming power of the Other.” [2]

Even at this early date in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, this sermon shows how an assembly of men and women can be ready for in depth learning. “To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively, and be ready to obey.” [3]

Dear Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice. We want to go a long way with You today. Help me to sit with You, walk with You, and follow in the way You want me to walk. Dear 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), 48.

[2] Ibid, 49.

[3] Ibid.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, 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] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.

Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 28, 2017

still-waters-sunrise

Solitude, Silence, and Paul Tournier

Have I mentioned before about how fascinating this collection of writings was? This excerpt, especially so. Dr. Paul Tournier was a doctor, psychoanalyst, and intensely spiritual man, who lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland. He was interviewed in 1984, and his remarks were truly exceptional, simple, and profound.

I sense that Dr. Tournier was an intensely private person. (Yes, I did read one of his books, years ago, but I can’t remember for the life of me which one it was.) His responses were personal. I can tell that he was making himself available for all of us younger believers in God.

For example, the interviewer asked him to define silence. His answer: “For me, above all it is a waiting. I wait for God to stimulate my thoughts sufficiently to renew me, to make me creative instead of being what St. Paul calls ‘a tinkling cymbal.’” [1]

I see Dr. Tournier (in my mind’s eye) as sitting quietly, calmly, unflappable. I am not sure whether that is correct, but that is what I sense: “Under psychoanalysis, there is a moment when the subject feels silence weighing on him terribly. He longs for the doctor to say something to him. Silence has the power to force you to dig deep inside yourself.” [2]

Regularly, every day, Dr. Tournier meditated and prayed. That is impressive, no matter who accomplishes it. Thank you, doctor, for your understanding, for your patience, and for your silence. Truly, a gift.

 

@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), 161.

 

[2] Ibid.

Soul Creation—Nourish the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SOUL beautiful soul

Soul Creation—Nourish the Soul

Another take on nourishing the Soul. Except, this way is expanding the Soul. This way is experiencing life, in every way. Matthew Fox suggests that “we must work on our souls, enlarging and expanding them. We do so by experiencing all of life—the beauty and the joy as well as the grief and pain.” [1]

This compilation, this book called Handbook for the Soul, offers a number of different aspects and attitudes towards expanding the inner workings of a person. And, with such a smorgasbord laid out for me, I can hardly choose. Perhaps, first one way on one day. Then, perhaps another way the next. And then, a third, and a fourth.

I could go on and on with these various approaches to nourishing and expanding the Soul. But I want to talk more about Fox’s way. He discusses soul work. How to do soul work? By experiencing life fully, deeply, in every way. In every facet.

Fox especially mentions silence and emptiness. Pain and suffering. Yes, sometimes there are great strides forward made at such times, in terms of soul work. In terms of strong emotion running rough shod all over a person, too.

The first thing I think of, when I read Fox’s suggestions, is why he said what he did.

When someone is presently going through some heavy emotion or deep, even raw feelings, sometimes it is wise to have someone to come alongside. Even though I may think I’m dealing with something manageable, things can always come up. Feelings, emotions, reactions, grief, sorrow, anger, grumbling, frustration. Joy, gratitude, relief. All kinds of feelings.

God willing, God will lead me to helpful prayers, nurturing exercises, and freeing meditation.

@chaplaineliza

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 151.

 

Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 7, 2015

cell phone illustration

Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Have you ever attended a silent retreat?

I attended a Lenten silent retreat today. Wonderful. Restful. Soul-searching, too. The retreat focused on the Lord’s Prayer. However, God wanted to bring much more than that to me.

One of the retreat leaders, Jay (my marvelous spiritual director), told us we were to turn off our cell phones as we entered into the retreat time. Having some concerted time, all morning and all afternoon to concentrate on myself and my relationship with God, the last thing I needed was a telephone call. Even, a telephone text.

I had left my cell phone at home, since I knew how tempting it would be to check calls. Voicemails. Messages. Texts. Oh, how wonderful to be free of the rigors and bother of a cell phone! At least, for a few hours.

God did communicate several interesting matters to me. One was especially profound. As I went through the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer through the day, certain things surfaced. Questions I was asked included: Are there particular areas of your life in which you long to encounter God? How in your life are you aware of your need for God’s provision—both material and spiritual? For what do you need to seek God’s forgiveness? And, what personal obstacles or temptations are you encountering in life; in what ways have you taken these to God?

Today was a fruitful, peaceful time of encounter with God. Prayer, meditation, and resting in God.

And, yes. I also tried to follow today’s suggestion for #40acts. Being on the retreat only magnified (in a good way) the silence and stillness. And, I did not even notice the absence of the cell phone until the retreat was over.

I also found I was able to listen to God much more clearly. Leaving my cell phone at home? A great idea! For at least a little while.

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 .