Tag Archives: wilderness

Prayer Means Togetherness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, September 15, 2018

pray, church pews

Prayer Means Togetherness

Father Nouwen so often hits the nail on the head. So true today: “Often it is said that prayer is simply an expression of helplessness. It is asking from another what we cannot do ourselves.” [1] He goes on to say that if we stop there, confusion and despair become the natural next steps.

Is this why so many today are leery of prayer? (Except in hospitals. I was a hospital chaplain at a busy urban hospital. I well understand that in dire or traumatic situations, prayer was a ready comfort or recourse for many. And, I would so often be asked to pray for and with patients and their loved ones.) But, more to the point of Fr. Nouwen’s statement, the person who is lost in confusion and despair can also be lost in a wilderness of misunderstanding and pain.

Fr. Nouwen does not leave our wanderer in a confusing and despairing wilderness, however. “The praying person not only says, ‘I can’t do it and I don’t understand it.” … when you can also add the second, you feel your dependence no longer as helplessness but as a happy openness to others.” [2] And, again. Fr. Nouwen is exactly correct. There is nothing demeaning, disgraceful or debilitating about acknowledging openness, even dependence upon others.

Is this mistaken attitude a fault of the gradual breakdown in communication across generations here in the United States? I suspect not totally, although that must have some bearing. Although, Fr. Nouwen wrote this little book some decades ago. This prescient understanding of an almost universal desire and longing for communication with the Holy, with that which is beyond humanity, and which some call “God” is what this book With Open Hands is all about.

I feel sorrow in my heart for those who cannot give themselves permission to feel a dependence upon others. Even upon one or two others. I realize there are those who have been shockingly damaged by truly evil treatment, and I deeply mourn with them for their losses. However, as Fr. Nouwen would surely say, God is there. Even though some are fearful at reaching out, that makes no difference. Even though some may be so pain-filled and snarl at people who reach out to them, God is still there. God will always be there.

As our mentor and pathfinder Fr. Nouwen tells us, “if you see your weakness as that which makes you worth loving and if you are always prepared to be surprised at the power the other gives you, you will discover through praying that living means living together.” [3] (italics mine)



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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] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 86.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Center, Praise God for the Rock of Our Salvation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 25, 2015

ROCK on Christ the solid rock

Center, Praise God for the Rock of Our Salvation

The Rock. Something quite solid about that Name of God! Solid, good foundation for me. And, for anyone else following at home, my word of the day, my Name of God for today is Rock.

I had difficulty concentrating or “getting down to business” today when I was praying. But once I got there, I did have an impression to report. I saw (or, felt) “Rock” as a refuge, or a place of respite and safety. This is not usually what happens when I pray. Quite the contrary! But that’s what happened today.

Yes, the verse that was mentioned in the list of Names of God is 1 Corinthians 10:4. And yes, this verse refers to the Rock being Christ. Which Rock? The Rock in the wilderness, the Rock that the people of Israel drank from during their wanderings for years.

Dear Lord Jesus, whether You are seen as the Rock from whom the miraculous water flowed in the wilderness, or the Rock of safety, of refuge, it doesn’t matter. You still are my Rock of salvation. Thank You for this passage from 1 Corinthians.

Thank You for the strong impression I received about You and Your character. You do keep us safe and secure. Just like a building’s foundation, just like the Rock in Psalm 18:3—“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”


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

Centering on Bread of Life

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 4, 2015

BREAD OF LIFE brass trivet

Centering on Bread of Life

Today, I’m departing a bit from the spirit of Centering Prayer. (Yes, already.) I intended for each day in the month of September to choose a name of God found in the Bible. The Name I’ve chosen for today is a phrase. (I’ve got to ask people more familiar with Centering Prayer. I think that’s okay, but I’m not sure.)

In any case, the phrase for today? My Name of God for today is Bread of Life.

This Name of God seemed so fitting for today. This Sunday is the first Sunday of the month. And, in the church I serve as pastor, Communion is observed on the first week of the month. Bread of Life? Jesus. Jesus? Bread of Life.

Initially, I didn’t have problems entering a prayer space. I am usually finding this aspect of prayer straightforward. However—keeping my mind centered on the word for the day? That’s where the difficult part comes in. Today was more difficult than usual.

I knew that Jesus said “I am the bread of life” in the Gospel of John. (I knew that straight off. I didn’t need to look that up.) Although I couldn’t remember all the specifics about the passage, I had some context on which to base my meditation. Yeah, frequent non-Bible related thoughts came up.

However, one Bible-related—even bread-related—thought came up a few times during my prayer. Manna. God gave the people of Israel manna in the wilderness. God gave us Jesus, the Bread of Life, to us in our wilderness.

What an awesome thought!

As I prepare for and look forward to Communion Sunday this weekend, I can keep that thought prayerfully in my mind and heart. Thanks, God! Thanks for the marvelous connection. Thank You for the opportunity to celebrate Communion with this congregation. And, thanks for Jesus, the Bread of Life.


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