Tag Archives: support

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Pray, Praise, Commission! Thank God.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 15, 2015

DSCF9280

Fourth Sunday in Lent – Pray, Praise, Commission! Thank God.

As one of my good friends said, it’s done! As of this afternoon, I am now officially Rev. Elizabeth.

It was quite a day, to cap a jam-packed week of preparation. Two others were commissioned with me, under the Federation of Christian Ministries. The congregation at the church I pastor, St. Luke’s Church in Morton Grove—a suburb of Chicago—were kind enough to host our joint commissioning service.

Much prayer has gone into this, for years. Prayer, anguish, tears, pain. (And that was personal, inside of me.) I know that many, many times I had despaired of ever entering the ordained ministry. But, God had different plans. God kept on putting me in places where I would find myself ministering, naturally. Like water rolling right off a duck’s back, that is almost always how naturally ministry has come to me.

For example, I was minding my own business, eight years ago. I spoke to a fairly large group, and afterwards someone I had never seen before came up and engaged me in conversation. He picked up on my making an offhand comment about seminary in my speech. “So, you went to seminary.” Wanting to keep it low key, I kind of nodded. He pursued it. “So, you have a degree from a seminary?” I sighed, and came clean. I admitted I had a Master of Divinity degree. The next words out of his mouth floored me: “I’m on the search committee at my church. I would love for you to meet our interim pastor.”

This amazing kind of thing has happened to me at least five times in the past fifteen years. Real God-things, or God-incidences, as my pastor-mentor likes to say.

I so appreciate the many people who for over a decade supported me, encouraged me, picked me up when I fell on my face, and cheered me on when I thought I could never make it. Some of these people were at my commissioning service right here at my church. I sincerely thank these friends, near and far, for their constancy, continued nurture, and abiding love. I love you guys!

And, God, thank You for Your support and vote of confidence in me. A common clay pot, filled from within with Your light, shining out into the world. Help me show Your light, Lord, and not get in the way. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my earnest, grateful prayers.

@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 #5 – Supporting Fairtrade? With Money and with Prayer!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 23, 2015

Indian nativity- source SERRV shops

Indian nativity- source SERRV shops

Day #5 – Supporting Fairtrade? With Money and with Prayer!

I am all for supporting Fairtrade. I often buy coffee, chocolate and tea, and the occasional pair of earrings, from a Fairtrade store in my local community. Except—I don’t live in the U.K. So, I won’t be able to participate directly in Fairtrade Fortnight as advertised.

I live in a suburb of Chicago, just to the north of the city. In a town called Evanston, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Even though I was born and bred in Chicago (on the northwest side, if anyone was wondering), I’ve lived in Evanston for more than twenty years.

Evanston is a unique town. Part university town—because of Northwestern University, part posh North Shore upscale suburb, part eclectic/artsy/bohemian enclave. Rich in diversity, the south part of Evanston has interesting, one-of-a-kind shops, like the shop that stocks entirely Fairtrade items. Ten Thousand Villages.

I couldn’t go into that shop today. I had a luncheon appointment further south in Chicago, and I didn’t get a chance to stop in and pick up some more coffee as I came back home, in the afternoon. However, I am letting everyone know about this wonderful shop! Fairtrade does, indeed, have the power to transform lives—of the artisans, their families, even their whole village or town. So useful, needed and empowering!

The thing about buying Fairtrade, it does cost more money. I know a number of people in my area on fixed incomes, and it’s difficult for them to actively purchase Fairtrade objects or food. However, we all can support and encourage shops that sell Fairtrade products. And, I can pray for the good people who made the items I bought over the past year.

Dear God, thank You for these beautiful, useful or even tasty items that I have been able to buy from Ten Thousand Villages in Evanston, as well as The Silk Road in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. God, I pray for the creators of these products. I ask that You give them continued good health, good ideas, and God’s blessings on their friends and families. Thank You, God.

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 #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Praying through Action—an Act of Consolation

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

vintage Valentine pink hearts

Praying through Action—an Act of Consolation

What a prayer suggestion for Valentine’s Day! Lo and behold, another surprise. My prayer suggestion for the day was to write a note of consolation and support for someone who has lost a dear one in death or is presently suffering some tragedy in their life, and let them know that God loves them. My goodness . . . not exactly a cheery thing to do on Valentine’s Day.

A dear person immediately came to my mind. I had purchased several cheery Valentine’s Day cards yesterday for several lonely people. Accordingly (I peeked at today’s suggestion a day ahead of time), I also chose a card for this dear one. A number of months have passed since my friend lost a close relative to serious illness. I had been thinking about this dear one several times in the past week or so, and I knew without a doubt that this was why I had been mentally nudged. Because I needed to write this card.

I’ve served as a chaplain for most of the last ten years. I know that significant holidays sometimes are poignant reminders of recent deaths. Even, not-so-recent deaths. Valentine’s Day might not seem so significant at first . . . but if you think about it, you might change your mind.

Consider an elderly parent who—without fail—sends their adult children a sweet Valentine’s Day remembrance each year. Until they are gone. Or, think of a significant other or spouse who remembers their loved one with a romantic Valentine card each February 14th. Until they can’t any longer. Or, what about a growing child, become a young adult, sending their parents a loving Valentine’s Day card wherever they are, in whatever part of the country they happen to be. Until they have an untimely death.

So, I wrote a cheery, thoughtful note on this pretty Valentine’s Day card I bought yesterday. And, I closed with the reminder that God is caring for this dear one and keeping them safe within God’s loving, everlasting embrace.

Dear Lord, please be with all who mourn today, and all those who are missing someone near and dear to their hearts. Extend Your arms of comfort, care and encouragement to all of these dear people, today. Including several of my friends, Lord. In Your mercy, hear all of our prayers. Amen.

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.

Act of Charity—Carried Out

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 12, 2015

encouraging word cloud

Act of Charity—Carried Out

I was a little surprised by the prayer suggestion for today. It’s an action, not necessarily a prayer. Well, sort of both. I’ve been told I have some of the gift of encouragement. I sure used it today.

I was supposed to plan an act of charity for someone in need. And, endeavor to carry it out. I think I did that. Not quite as actively helpful in the way of doing something—like I posted on my other blog, where I helped out a senior citizen by vacuuming her apartment. But all the same, I think it counts.

Here’s the basis for the act today. I have a friend, some distance from here. She has had continuing difficulty with an acquaintance for a number of months, on and off. I have been praying for her and the situation. Today, I wrote her an encouraging email. I let her know I think her handling of this continuing situation is (and has been) just superb. I really mean that.

I think encouragement helps! Truly.

In the book of Acts, Barnabas was one of the early followers of the risen Christ. He was also a great one for encouragement. That’s what his name means. Imagine, being so encouraging to his fellow believers that they chose a new name for him? Specifically, “Son of Encouragement.” What’s more, Barnabas was living through some very uncertain times. I suspect it was not easy for him to act as a positive, encouraging voice, as one who assists others and is a fine example of how to act, even though times are difficult.

So, how did I realize God was there, through this act of charity? My friend thanked me for my continued prayers, and appreciated my reassurance. Plus—those things I wrote? They just seemed like the right things to say. True, and honest. Genuine. I hope and pray that my words were a comfort and support to my friend, reaching out through her computer and giving her a big hug.

Charity = love = encouraging email. Works for me; I hope it worked for my friend. I pray so!

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.

Heal, O Lord! We Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 28, 2015

prayer candles on blue cloth

Heal, O Lord! We Pray.

O, to be healed!

I was a chaplain for most of the past ten years. Regularly, I saw patients and their loved ones in serious, traumatic, even end of life situations. People asked, no, begged me to intercede on their behalf. Or, on their loved one’s behalf. And, I would.

I know the extreme sadness and grief of a patient and family as life ebbs away. I recognize the agony and despair over a difficult diagnosis of a serious illness. Yet, I would pray when asked. Even, when patients and loved ones had no words and I left them, exited the room in respectful silence. I prayed then, too.

Right now, I have a good friend whose dear loved one is in hospice. It’s been a several-year fight, a serious series of pitched battles. The dear loved one is sinking, slipping gently and gradually away. And I pray.

“Why?” “Why me?” “Why my loved one?” When asked this, I often must say, “I am sorry. I don’t know.” Truly, I don’t know why this person, and not that one.

I know some things about prayer, though. I know prayer is communication with God. I know God wants us to be in relationship—with God, as well as with one another. I know prayer is love. I know prayer shows my concern for others as well as a request for encouragement and support from God. I know God will encourage and support me, too, if I ask.

So, these are things I know. Rather, I strive to remind myself of them sometimes, at those times when I have doubts, or fears, or am angry with God.

This thing I also know: as soon as each person is born into the world, we all know how they are going to get out of it. Each one is going to die. (I am sure of this. If you think hard about it, you are, too.) We don’t know when, we aren’t sure how long each one has. Just—each of us has an allotted span of days. As Psalm 90 tells us, “teach us to number our days.” Count each day as precious. Live one day at a time.

And I pray.

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.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

The Prayer List

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 27, 2015

pray pray pray

The Prayer List

I have had a love/hate relationship with prayer lists, over the past several decades. Currently, I am helped by lists, and I readily use them. But I can remember times that I was burdened by them, even to the point where I felt practically sinful when I missed the time I had set aside to pray with my prayer list. (Not good, believe me!)

It got so bad, I would get the really strong impression that the Enemy would be there, ready to pounce on me and bash me upside the head with a big two by four. Oh, and the two by four had the words “Prayer List” scrawled across it in dark, messy printing, all capitals.

I finally figured out this was not beneficial and nurturing to my walk with God, and my continuing relationship in prayer. Or, with prayer. Or, something like that.

Believe me, this area of prayer—and especially prayer lists—is something my spiritual director and I periodically revisit. So, yes. I am aware of my love/hate relationship, and I am talking with several mature believers about it, from time to time.

I bring up the topic of the The List because our trusty guide in prayer, Rev. Howell, brings it up today, too. He is in favor of lists. (I am, too. For the most part, and for the majority of people interested in prayer.)

Sometimes when people tell me about prayer requests, I feel helpless, terribly sad, or grieving inside. And yes, I wonder sometimes what my measly prayers to God would ever accomplish, given such overwhelming odds against. It is in these sad situations that I wholeheartedly agree with Rev. Howell. Prayer is love. [1]

Moreover, as I tell people who request prayer from me and our church’s prayer chain, prayer is also encouragement, comfort and support. When I am alone in my grief, or pain, or suffering, that alone-ness can be fearful, anxious, even hopeless. But when I share my requests with others, they and their prayers can come alongside of me, encouraging me. I can gain comfort, just knowing that others are thinking about me and my request. And, I can feel supported by others, and most importantly, by God.

Thank You, God, for the love, encouragement, comfort and support that comes in prayer.

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.

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

[1] James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 85.

Beginning As I Mean to Continue: in Prayer

matterofprayer: a year of everyday prayers – Thursday, January 1, 2015

winter road

Beginning As I Mean to Continue: in Prayer

2015: a clean, fresh, bright new year. 365 new days ahead. I started this blog to talk about prayer and meditation, and I mean to continue that way. However—I feel I have a responsibility to my friends and acquaintances who have been telling me in the past few weeks that 2014 has not been a particularly good year for them. Anxiety! Sadness! Grief! Instability of many kinds! No, not particularly good, for many in my acquaintance. I want to make a firm foundation for myself, as well as for others. In prayer.

Therefore, I am going back to basics. I went to my prayer and spiritual formation shelf. (Actually, I need to make that shelves, since I am gathering more and more books on that area, recently.) I pulled a tried-and-true book off the shelf called The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray. A prayer guide in 31 lessons, I’ve used it in the past, to good effect.

In January, then, I will read and pray through James Howell’s devotional book on prayer. (I know I mentioned it here before.) Rev. Howell is a Methodist elder and a knowledgeable person on the subject of prayer. He’s written a marvelous book of instruction. This book shares his insights, as well as those of other knowledgeable people, both living and dead.

Before I go any further, I need to make a confession. I have difficulty being consistent, as far as prayer is concerned. Even though I love to pray, and receive blessing and benefit from regular prayer, I can’t pray every day. At times, I come close! I prayed through the whole month of November this past year, for example! But, I have a need for occasional change, too, because of my personal preferences. (If you speak Myers-Briggs, my preferences are ENFP.)

I shift from one helpful prayer guide to another. (I’m afraid I’m not that constant, as far as prayer guides are concerned.) Since it provides a good foundation, I will be sticking with Rev. Howell’s helpful book through January.

The secondary title of this blog, A Year of Everyday Prayers, is meant to be hopeful. Some might say, even presumptuous! I hope and pray that God will assist me in praying every day. (And, I would appreciate any and all prayers in support and encouragement.) But . . . I will take that one day at a time. I was greatly encouraged by 2014! I successfully blogged each and every day. God willing, I’ll do the same in 2015.

A few significant sentences from this first lesson of prayer are: “ . . . prayer is not a way of getting a grip on our lives of getting things under control. Prayer is the yielding of control. Prayer is discovering I am not the center of the universe.” Let’s pray. God, thanks for the excellent food for thought. Help me—help us as we pray and come to You. Thanks for giving us the understanding that we have a relationship with You, with a good and loving God. In gracious thanks we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

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Prayer When All Looks Dark

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, September 5, 2014

PRAY joyful, faithful in affliction, faithful prayer

Prayer When All Looks Dark

Dark clouds, black as night! But it’s the middle of the afternoon . . .

We had a cloudburst here in the Chicago area today. This afternoon, to be exact. I sat in my office and watched the torrential downpour happen for some twenty minutes.

Before the rain started, I could look west and see the clouds roll in. The dark clouds, almost black, heavy with rain. The trees and bushes rustled, waved in the rising wind. Then, twisted and turned. Drops started to fall. And then fall harder. In less than no time, sheets of rain pounded the pavement outside my window.

Isn’t that the way it is, sometimes? I mean, life. “It never rains, but it pours,” is one old saying I remember. Things pile up. Or, pile on. In a very short amount of time, sometimes, life becomes too full. Too chaotic. Too much. Too deep. What then?

Is God around? Can God hear me? Does God even care about me?

Torrential downpours happen in many people’s lives, not only affecting them, but affecting their loved ones, too. Sure, when employment or school or family situations crop up, that can be devastating. But, when emotional or psychological issues rear their heads? That can be even more traumatic. Because people often frown upon what they consider signs of weakness or ineptness. Tendencies toward isolation or depression or anxiety.

Yes, God is our ever present refuge and strength! Please, don’t forget this! God will be our very present help in times of trouble and need! God is always ready and willing to be there for us! But just as we go to doctors when we have a broken arm, or call an appliance repair person when our refrigerator needs fixing, so there are good people, trained professionals who are ready and willing to help with psychological and emotional needs, too.

That downpour in our lives can be stopped. You and I can get on the road to better psychological, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. (Often, physical health can be a concern, too. Check on it, too.)

Today is September 5, 2014, the day after NAMI’s annual conference in Washington DC marched on Capitol Hill and launching an outreach on social media, including Twitter and Facebook. (#Act4MentalHealth) Thus, I am encouraged to open up, writing about my difficulties with depression. I am speaking out with my message of walking through the dark places, and coming out the other side. God willing, many people will speak out. Not be ashamed.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, we thank You for being our refuge and strength. We ask that if we know anyone who is having difficulty with a downpour in their lives, than You help us to be a support and strength to them. Thank You, God, for loving us. For caring for us. And, for giving us Your comforting presence, no matter what. Amen!

For more information, here’s NAMI’s website: http://www.nami.org/

NAMI’s contact information: NAMI, 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, Va 22203

NAMI’s telephone numbers: Main: (703) 524-7600, Fax: (703) 524-9094, Member Services: (888) 999-6264, Helpline: (800) 950-6264

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Mention Friends in Prayer?

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRAY hug friends with prayers

Mention Friends in Prayer?

Periodically, I get comments from random people about prayer. Yes, there are the scoffers who deny the existence of any kind of a Supreme Being. But right now, I’m thinking about people who have lots of different ideas on how prayer actually works.

The last thing in the world that I want to do is to set myself up as a maven of all things prayer-related. Heavens, no! However, I do know some elementary things about prayer and meditation. I try to communicate with God regularly. I try to mention my family in prayer, especially my children. I try to remember my congregation, my friends. And, I try to mention those who people ask me to remember in prayer.

Sometimes, certain people seem to think that God is a vending machine in the sky. They put in their order, or they choose from the selection they see on offer, and they expect God to deliver. On demand. At a time of their choosing. (This is especially problematic when it comes to praying for the outcome of sporting events . . . ) Yes, I have prayed for games and competitions, but I usually pray for each person involved. I ask God to help each one do the very best that they can, and I also pray for clean competition—no fouls or mean-spirited nonsense! (That goes for the fans, too.)

But what about praying for those in poor health? Or for those who are even seriously ill? I am reminded of the U.S. doctor who contracted the Ebola virus some days ago. Today he is being released from the hospital. He worked for a mission agency, and I am sure countless thousands of people were praying for him and his family. I am sure God was concerned about him and his family, just as God is concerned for each and every person around the world who has a serious, life-threatening disease.

I know each person goes through life. Accidents happen. Jobs are lost, companies move, sudden events occur. And I know joy comes into people’s lives: children are born, people graduate from school, weddings are celebrated, people buy houses or businesses or other properties. In other words, life continues to happen. The business of living goes on, in countless lives all over the world.

I want to stress—God is with each of us, amidst the little things. In the center of the darkest night, in the middle of the most joyous event, God is right there, next to each of us. The Apostle Paul comments on this at the beginning of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. He made mention of his fellow believers in prayer. Not only the nearby believers, and not only those in Thessalonica, but also those who were scattered, and far away. In Paul’s time, there were no antibiotics. Few doctors. And many more accidents and mishaps. He knew what dangers were out there. Paul wanted to stress the fellowship we could have with each other—in prayer. Near or far, in encouragement and support.

Remember that old advertising slogan from Ma Bell? “Reach out and touch someone.” That is what prayer can do. That is what prayer can be for each other, whether near or far.

Let’s pray. God, we thank You for the example of our brother Paul. He said in 1 Thessalonians 1 that he made regular mention of the believers in his prayers. Help us to reach out to support others, care for them, and journey with them in prayer. For a little while, at least. Thank You for Your presence with us, through the good times, the stressful times, the scary times, and the sorrowful times. Help us to follow You more nearly, and to pray more faithfully. We pray in Your grace and mercy, amen.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: