Tag Archives: sin

Keeping Pure through God’s Words

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, November 9, 2017

Psa 119-9 young man, words

Keeping Pure through God’s Words

How to stay clean? Pure? Unblemished? The psalmist of Psalm 119 says it’s by reading God’s words. Paying close attention to what God’s words have to say.

The more Pharisaic part of me says, “Of course! That is what we all need to do. What we all should do!” (Notice the “we” in this statement. Almost as bad as “you.”) That’s the elder-brother part of me, the righteous, goody-two-shoes part. Or—is it the self-righteous, judgmental part?

Let’s look at the verse for today, verse 119:9 –

How does a young man cleanse his way?

By keep to Your words.

The version I am more familiar with talks about the psalmist keeping “his way pure.” Very similar wording. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, this is not “the question of an older person looking at the evils of youth. This question grows out of personal experiences of temptation and personal encounters with the Word of God.” [1] This is certainly from a young man (as evidenced by vv. 99-100 of this same psalm).

Ah, but I am willful and prone to wander. So often, I am determined to do it my way! I know I am a great example of the younger brother from the parable from Luke, the Prodigal. (At least, I was a great example, some years ago. I like to think I’ve cleaned up my act a little bit.) There is a part—an uncomfortably large part—of me that sticks out my lower lip, crosses my arms across my chest, and turns away. Pouting adolescent, much?

Ah, Pastor Bonhoeffer, I admit it. I admit I do not want to learn about life and guilt from personal experience. Yet, how can I not help it when I run off the rails sometimes? Yet, “in asking the question about the cleansing of his way, [our psalmist] acknowledges the sin that dwells within him. Otherwise he would not need to ask.” [2]

Yes, indeed. Like the psalmist, I badly need God’s help to stay clean. Only God can help both of us, me and the psalmist, deal with sin. (Maybe God can help you, too.) God and God’s words can lead us and give us grace, day by day. One day at a time. Thank You, Jesus!



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, 114.

[2] Ibid, 115.

Prayer, Vengeance and Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, August 14, 2017

Psa 58-1, words

Prayer, Vengeance and Psalm 58

This sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer was written in 1937, just as the Gestapo were “tightening the net” around those ministers and seminary professors who protested against the Nazi regime in Germany. More than 800 of these members of the Confessing Church had been either imprisoned or taken under house arrest—for the “crime” of protesting against the regime. One example: a former seminarian at the secret seminary of Finkenwalde was arrested, and had “Evangelical Pastor” as his “crime,” written above the door of his cell.

The seminary at Finkenwalde was forcibly closed by the Gestapo in September 1937. Bonhoeffer wrote this sermon in response. (It was two more years before he actively joined the underground Resistance movement.) [1]

Sadly, how timely that this reading should be set for this time, next in the book. Given the horrors that happened this past weekend in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia with white supremacists and neo-Nazis openly marching and carrying swastikas and Nazi flags…

Bonhoeffer opens his sermon with a complete reading of Psalm 58, and then asks: “Is this fearful psalm of vengeance to be our prayer? May we pray in this way? Certainly not!” [2] No, Herr Pastor Bonhoeffer decries the sin that inhabits all of us. Our personal sin, “our spiritual indolence, our open or hidden disobedience.” [3]

Just as a good Lutheran pastor ought, Bonhoeffer reminds us of our personal guilt, and where each of us falls short. He follows this declaration with the crystal-clear fact that none of us is guilt-free, and none of us is truly able to pray this psalm. (As much as we may want to.)

True, we may desperately want to pray this imprecatory psalm, and especially those who were directly impacted by the horrific events in Virginia. Yet, Bonhoeffer says “No, we cannot pray this psalm. Not because we are too good for it (what a superficial idea, what colossal pride!), but because we are too sinful, too evil for it!” [4]

Dear Lord, deliver me—deliver us from the great sin of colossal pride. Reveal all the ways in which I have fallen short, and help me to amend my ways. Turn my thoughts to You, and lead me in the way everlasting. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 73-74.

[2] Ibid, 75.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. 76.

Prayer, Affection, and Love

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 5, 2016

sun behind clouds over water

Prayer, Affection, and Love

Relationships are a tricky thing. On my own, I am separated from other people, and separated especially from those close to me. My husband, my family, my dear friends. Not to mention acquaintances and those I meet. We are all isolated, one from another.

I don’t care whether you think the separation comes from fear, anxiety, anger, or coldness. Apathy, or indifference. That isolation can also be called sin. God provides a remedy for that separation. God encourages togetherness, affection, caring, and love. Thank You, God.

Dear Lord, I know I have a problem with sin. With separation and isolation from You (vertically) and from others (horizontally). Thank You for the possibility for love. Love from You, and love from others. Help me to care for others, especially for my dear ones. Allow each of us to be warm and affectionate in our relationships, instead of cold, heartless, apathetic and uninterested. Please, Lord, support each of us in our commitment to others, and give each one a portion of Your endless, abundant love. In Jesus’s precious, transformative name, 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.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Honest to God, in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 7, 2015

cast your anxiety on Him 1 Pet 5-7

Honest to God, in Prayer

Am I truly honest when I pray? Or, do I just include those prayers, those parts of me that I think or feel God wants to see?

What about those parts of me that are less than godly? Less than righteous or pure? What do I do with those? Do I ever allow those parts of me to come out of hiding—in prayer? To “let it all hang out,” as it were? Am I kidding myself when I think that God just doesn’t see or even know about those less-than-holy parts of myself?

God, I know those impure thoughts (and deeds, too!) are a part of me. Yes, I sin. Yes, I fall short. But You want me to continue to come before You, even though. Time after time in scripture as well as in history I can see people continuing to come to You in prayer. You don’t turn anyone away. Not ever. Even though people continue to sin and to fall short.

You are the best place in the world to cast all of our cares. (As 1 Peter 5:7 tells us.) You are the only place I can run to when I stumble and fall—repeatedly. And You pick me up—repeatedly.

I realize that some of today’s modern-day Pharisees would have me all tied up in spiritual, physical, and psychological knots. In some super-spiritual straightjacket, where the real me, the me You intended me to be would be all stifled and muffled and starved. Where some Pharisees’ conception of God was all harsh and angry, throwing thunderbolts at the least little misstep. (Gee, sounds a lot like mean, capricious Zeus, if you ask me!) No, sir. No, thanks.

Reminds me of my dear prayer partner of several years ago. When her youngest child was about one, she would call for the child to come to her from across the room. The determined little tyke would toddle across the floor, sometimes falling down. Boom! Right on the padded backside. Yet time after time, my friend would urge her dear child to get up and to keep going. Keep on trying to toddle to her. And at last, finally hug her dear child to her in a warm embrace.

That little toddler is me. I fall down, and make missteps. Mistakes. Sometimes I may even toddle in the other direction. But I know my God is there for me. And God won’t leave me alone, either.

Thank You for loving me, for caring for me. After all, that’s exactly what 1 Peter 5:7 tells me: that You care for me. You are my Heavenly Parent, after all.

God, I can—indeed—be totally honest with You. So, help me, God.


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.