Pastoral Series

Prayer: Bicycling

   One of my personal goals, which I then try to infuse into you, is the habit of looking for God’s presence everywhere, seeing if mundane activities might bear some spiritual meaning. I ride my bike every day, unless it’s sleeting or there’s a thunderstorm raging. It’s exercise. Like all exercise, you don’t get fit…

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Prayer: Solomon’s Prayer

David, Israel’s first great king, was succeeded by his son, the one born to Bathsheba, the woman David saw and simply took from another man. Solomon is a bit two-dimensional when compared to David; we don’t see much of his emotional life, struggles, and passions. 1 Kings 3:3 tells us that “he loved the Lord”…

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Prayer: Reading and Love

I love reading. People have told me they think I read fast. But I read slowly. I don’t want to read fast. If it’s worth reading, it’s worth savoring the words and thoughts. I’m fond of Jackie Kennedy’s description of what her husband Jack did, even as President: “He’d read walking, right before meals, after…

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Prayer: Whom do I trust?

I find it helpful from time to time to return to a marvelous prayer Thomas Merton recorded in his journal, The Sign of Jonas: “Lord, I only say I trust You. My actions prove that the one I trust is myself – and that I am still afraid of You. Take my life into Your…

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Prayer: Wanting to Want

On Thursday, I wrote about 21 year old Flannery O’Connor keeping a journal about her thoughts and her prayers.  Another entry that fascinates me is her plea to God: “Dear Lord, please make me want You. It would be the greatest bliss. Not just to want You when I think about You but to want…

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Prayer: Shadows of the Moon

Thirty years ago, I was blessed to discover the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. Edgy, eloquent, moving, thoughtful. In 1946, when she was just 21 years old, she left her home in Milledgeville, Georgia and went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop – and thankfully began jotting down thoughts in a journal about her inner struggles…

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Prayer: The Heart of the World

John Muir, who died in 1914, was a Scottish-American naturalist, explorer, and conservationist. He was as responsible as anyone for the preservation of Yosemite, and the creation of National Parks. I’ve thought of him as fires have raged in California in and near places he loved, and showed us how to love. Among his many…

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Prayer: Knit together

   I’ve been sharing with you some thoughts I’ve had in preparation for the book I’m writing on birth. Tomorrow is my second daughter’s birthday. On her birth announcement, we quoted Psalm 139: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Lovely – but how does God do this knitting? When we went for the…

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Prayer: Mothers of God

On Thursday, I mentioned that I’m writing a book about birth. Fascinating stuff. Of course, it’s from a theological perspective. How do I think of myself differently if I can recall that I began as something microscopic that lived in a womb for months? What dreams did my parents have for me at birth? but…

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Prayer: Birthdays

The comedian Gracie Allen used to quip, “When I was born, I was so surprised I didn’t speak for a year and a half.” Today is my father-in-law’s birthday – and I’m working on a book just now on Birth. How do we ponder a birthday prayerfully? It’s all gift, an entirely passive experience, getting…

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