Tag Archives: the Bible

Prayer: Whatever Fills the Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 22, 2018

candles, votive prayer

Prayer: Whatever Fills the Heart

Sometimes, it seems that God might be a big vending machine in the sky. At least, that is the way some people pray. They put in their order, just the way they like it, and when God does not deliver in precisely the way requested, these same people become quite upset.

I do not believe God works that way.

Certainly, according to the Bible, God is concerned about us humans. God dearly wishes to enter into a relationship with us. However—God is not a short-order cook. I cannot even imagine twisting God’s arm to get what I selfishly want.

Yes, we pray when we go on vacation, or for the weather we prefer, or when friends are sick, or even when they die. As Father Nouwen says, “Our prayer emerges from the midst of our lives and is interwoven with everything else which busies our day.” [1]

When I allow prayer to permeate my life and my way of being, of course prayer becomes more genuine. When I allow my relationship with God to become more intimate and loving and caring, of course what I request becomes less of a spoiled whine or anxious fear. When I climb onto Jesus’s lap, He comforts me, just like His beloved child.

When we live in the world, God can act sovereignly to deliver us. Or not. This can be a challenging thing. All the same, “if we pray, and really pray, we can hardly escape the fact that our cares for the moment, big and small, will fill our prayer.” [2] If we pray, we open the door to God,  and allow ourselves to have the chance for friendship with our Heavenly Friend.

How wonderful that God wishes to develop that kind of close, loving relationship with all of us. Thank You, God.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 65.

[2] Ibid, 66.

More on the Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 30, 2017

Bible, OT scrolls

More on the Word of God and Meditation

This particular letter was so fascinating, and had so much in it, that I just had to take another day to reflect upon it. I’m referring to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. (The two men had many interests in common, including theology.)

I was struck by what Bonhoeffer said about the Bible. “This is how I read the Bible now. I ask of each passage: What is God saying to us here? And I ask God that he would help us hear what he wants to say.” [1] Bonhoeffer does not read the Bible as someone preparing for a sermon, or doing bible study, with an eye to commentaries and delving deeper behind the words and meanings of the text. No. This is not the point for Bonhoeffer.

Instead, he particularly refers to what he saw as God’s central purpose for the Word: “…God’s Word begins by showing us the cross. And it is to the cross, to death and judgment before God, that our ways and thoughts (even the ‘eternal’ ones) all lead.” [2]

I think Bonhoeffer is saying that the cross is the apex of all things, the crux of God’s purpose and meaning. I almost hesitate to say this, but I understand it to be God’s be-all and end-all. The main point, the one-and-only. (Those phrases sound so trite, compared to God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.)

Sure, there are lots of things that are still hidden from common understanding, or puzzling, or downright confusing. However, Bonhoeffer freely admits that he “does not yet understand this or that passage in Scripture, but is certain that even they will be revealed one day as God’s own Word.” [3]

If someone as spiritually and theologically brilliant as Dietrich Bonhoeffer freely admits that, I suppose I ought to feel no shame and embarrassment at admitting the same thing. Yet, just as Pastor Bonhoeffer did, I need to keep reading, keep meditating, and keep studying. If I do this, God willing, I will add to my knowledge, understanding and wisdom about the Word of God. I hope my readers do, as well. 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), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

[3] Ibid.

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, September 8, 2016

god-brings-peace

God’s Word Brings Peace.

Psalm 119 is one of my favorite psalms. Hands down. I love so many things about it. First off, every one of its 176 verses mentions God’s word. Or, statutes, or God’s law. In a multitude of ways, this chapter of the Hebrew Scriptures acknowledges the awesomeness of God’s Word, the Bible.

I’d like to focus on one verse: Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”

This verse comes at the tail end of the psalm. You’d think, after dozens and dozens of verses of description, of how amazing God’s Word is—but, no. The unknown author powers through to the end, extolling the wonders of the Bible.

Back to verse 165. This verse talks about peace. As in, shalom. Not only the cessation of conflict and war, not to mention violence. But, the harmony and wholeness of shalom. How the Bible—and the regular, intentional reading of it—provides peace.

Now, the author does not say, but I see this verse as talking about the inside attitude. The attitude of people who regularly read the Bible and study it.

I am sure the author knows about the various uncertain situations here in this world, because he uses descriptive language concerning the uneasy, unpleasant world in other verses.  I know the author wants to show that God’s Word can help overcome, no matter what the adversary, no matter how unpleasant the situation. Plus, in this particular verse, the author affirms that God’s Word brings peace. God’s Word helps the reader to maintain a firm footing, a firm grip on their road or their way. I don’t know about you, but I sure need that!

Let’s pray. Gracious God, thank You for all of the many varieties of help, encouragement and support we may find in God’s Word—the Bible. Especially, thank You for the certainty the author has in this verse: those who love Your Word will not stumble, and peace will come into their hearts. Not only passing peace, peace on the surface, but great peace. I need great peace right now. Thank You for this good promise. Amen.

@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.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Can You Say “Foolish?”

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, January 11, 2016

know God

Can You Say “Foolish?”

Oh, boy. I have done some foolish things in my life. Just thinking back on one or two—or a dozen. I’ll say it again. Oh, boy!

I suspect my readers have done foolish things in their lives, too. I’m not really thinking of saying foolish words (although that is extremely possible, too!). But instead, doing foolish actions. Or, embarking on a foolish path.

I have something specific in mind. Happened very recently. Sadly, I feel like a bit of an idiot. I’m a bit embarrassed about it, too. It all worked out in the end, I think. But, we will see about the aftermath. Or, about the fallout.

Did my readers realize that God’s word speaks to this very shortcoming? Being foolish, I mean. Thank God the Bible does mention this area. Prudent things to remember.

Dear God, thank You for discernment. Godly wisdom. You must know that I am sometimes foolish, and on occasion stubborn and willful. Thank You for the leading to make decisions that are pleasing to You. Help me follow Your wisdom, and not the wisdom of the world, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians. Lead us all in the wise, Godly ways, not the foolish, unteachable ways of this present world. 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 sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

Center on King of Kings

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 19, 2015

KING OF KINGS Jesus

Center on King of Kings

When I think of the biblical Name of God “King of Kings,” I think of the chorus from Handel’s oratorio “The Messiah.” At least, I did before I came across the list of Names I am using for this month’s prayer prompts.

Yes, I am choosing one of the Bible’s Names of God today, and my word—Name of God for today is King of Kings. (And yes, I am hearing the “Hallelujah chorus” in my head.) However, I feel as if I saw a whole new side to this phrase after today. I found another place in the Bible that holds those same phrases. 1 Timothy 6:15.

As I used Centering Prayer to focus and meditate on that particular Name of God, I must make an admission. My mind kept returning to the passage in 1 Timothy 6. “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” How awesome is that? I settled by using the chorus from the Messiah to pray, and transitioned into the phrase “King of Kings.”

How wonderful to know that the Bible has more than one place where I can find the phrases “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.” Thanks, God! You are awesome.

@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

Center on Christ. (Jesus’ Last Name?)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 5, 2015

Jesus Christ - clouds

Center on Christ. (Jesus’ Last Name?)

September means Centering Prayer. I’m choosing a name of God found in the Bible, and using that for my word of the day. My word—Name of God for today is Christ.

This particular Name struck me as a part of God’s Name I use on a regular basis. So regularly, in fact, I overlook the significance of it. This was the strong impression I received as I started thinking about this Name and praying with it.

Quick on the heels of this serious thought came a more humorous one: Christ is Jesus’ last name. Even though I had the initial, serious, almost scholarly thought in my head first, I rolled this funny one around, too. I could almost see a stand-up comedian in front of a mic on a small stage (a la comedy club) doing a routine about Jesus. His origins, a little about His parentage. And how His last name wasn’t really Christ after all.

But then, I gravitated back to the significance of Christ. I know it’s a Greek word for “anointed.” A translation for the Jewish word “Messiah.” Mark 1 and Matthew 1 both refer to Jesus as “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus called the Christ.” That’s straightforward enough for me.

I come back to the regular use of this Name. Its use is so common that I may be guilty of treating the seriousness—even the Godliness—of the Name much too lightly. Not that I think that our Lord Jesus expects me to cower at His Name, or His presence! No, certainly not. But, I need to explore exactly what Jesus’ Name (or, Names) mean to me.

Thank You, dear Lord Jesus, for the wake-up call. I know You are loving, caring, nurturing and patient. (God knows You need a great amount of patience with me!) Thank You for loving me, even when I make You unhappy, or even mad. Help me as I explore these different Names of Yours this month. Continue to give me insight and understanding, too. Thank You, 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

God Our Bridegroom. Centering, Day Three.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BRIDEGROOM Isaiah 62

God Our Bridegroom. Centering, Day Three.

For each day in the month of September, I will choose a name of God found in the Bible. I’m using that for my word of the day. My word—Name of God for today is Bridegroom.

This Name of God gave me pause. I almost did not use it for my centering word today. However, I ended up doing so. Interesting experience, to be sure.

I had little difficulty quieting my body, and only a bit of difficulty quieting my mind for Centering Prayer. I found myself somewhat receptive, to begin with.

However—the first of the mental pictures that came to my mind was that of a huge Jesus. Sort of like a gigantic Lord and Savior. I saw Him dressed in the typical manner in which Jesuses are almost always dressed (in Sunday school pictures, at least). The location in my mind seemed to be a generic city center. A large square, or park area, filled with people; hundreds of thousands, at least. And, the huge Jesus, right smack in the middle of everything. (That made me hesitate.)

I felt at a distance. Particularly distant from Jesus. And, I did not like that.

Returning to thinking about Bridegroom, what came into my mind next was a wedding ceremony uncannily like a photo I had seen years ago of Sun Myung Moon, blessing thousands of couples in Madison Square Garden. This thought was extremely distasteful! I remember actually shaking my head to get the thought out of it.

Then, I specifically oriented my mind toward Middle Eastern marriage customs. From what I understand, the marriage between bride and bridegroom is not only a joining of two people. It’s more than that. It’s a joining together of two families. An alliance. My mind went one step further. I thought of the family of Jesus (or, God) joined with the family of humans. That idea drew me in, and I thought about the loving alliance all of us, as the Church, have with Jesus. Our Bridegroom. As I said, interesting experience.

I noted at the beginning of this post that I was hesitant to meditate and pray with this Name of God. I have never felt particularly close to this image. However, I knew immediately that I ought to try. Try to pray, and see what happens.

Lord Jesus, it was an interesting experience, and one part more than a little disturbing. (I mean, the part about Moon and the blessing ceremony, and comparing You to that.) I thank You for aiding me in this effort today, and helping to give me a positive experience and impression. Thanks, 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 my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er