Daily Riches: A Modern Lord’s Prayer – “extended dance mix” (Nadia Bolz-Weber)

Our Father, Our Mother, Our Holy Parent, The Source of All Being from whom we came and to whom we return, You who knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus called you Abba and so shall we, even as we may have an ambiguous relationship with parenthood – Be to us our Holy Parent, the one who loves without condition.

Who art in heaven, Our Father who art in everything. Our Father who art in orphanages and neonatal units, and jail cells and luxury high-rises, who art in law offices and adult book stores, and who art in rooms alone with suicidal people. Our Father who art in the halls of Congress and the halls of tenements.

Hallowed be thy name. Holy is your name.  Ever since the beginning we have attributed our own ego and wishful thinking and greed and malice and racism and ambition and manipulations of others to you and to your name – and yet your name remains holy. We print “In God we trust” on the US dollar and then worship that dollar and the power that dollar brings us, and yet still, your name remains holy.

Thy kingdom come, God, right now we beg you to bring more than just a small measure of heaven to earth because, if you haven’t noticed, we are in a global pandemic, and there are unjust wars waged on innocent people in Yemen, Ethiopia and Ukraine –  not to mention, the Earth is on fire. It’s a mess down here, Lord, So, we need your Kingdom to speed the hell up. We need wise leaders, and just systems and an extra dose of compassion for all of us.

Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Thy will and not ours be done. Forgive us when we use prayer as a self-help technique by which we can get all the cash and prizes we want out of your divine vending machine if we just kind of bug you to death through ceaseless prayer, because when it comes down to it, we know better. You are our Father whose name is holy and whose love is boundless and who – as our holy Parent – wants to hear our prayers.

Give us today our daily bread. Give us today our daily bread, our daily naan, our daily tortillas, our daily rice. Lord, give us real bread, even when we keep reaching for those literal and metaphorical Krispy Kremes. Give us the gift of enough-ness. May our response to perceived scarcity always be increased generosity for we are your children and from you we receive everything. Give us today our desire for the neighbor to be fed. Give us today a desire for a good that is held in common.

And forgive us our sins. As we forgive those who sin against us. Forgive us when we hate what you love. Forgive us when we would rather anesthetize ourselves than feel anything. Forgive us for how much we resent in others the same things we hate in ourselves. Forgive us for the terrible things we think about our own bodies, bodies you have made in your image. And this one is hard, but please forgive us for thinking we know the hearts of our enemies.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Deliver us from the inclination that we too do not have evil in our hearts. Deliver us from religious and national exceptionalism. Deliver us from addiction and depression. Deliver us from self-loathing. Deliver us from self-righteousness. Deliver us from high fructose corn syrup. Deliver us from a complete lack of imagination about where you are in our lives and how you might already be showing up. Deliver us from complacency. Deliver us from Complicity.

“As Jesus taught us, we are throwing this bag of prayers at your door. We are not asking nicely, Lord. We are your children and we are claiming your promises as our own today. Some of us are holding your feet to the fire, some of us don’t know if we believe in you, some of us are distracted and just going through the motions, some are desperately in love with you . . . but all of us are your children. Use these prayers to hammer us all into vessels that can accept the answer when it comes. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. And the children of God say, AMEN.” Nadia Bolz-Weber

Moving From Head to Heart

*Can you pray this prayer “as is?” What does it do to you?

*What does that response say about you?

Abba, grant us a world of people whose prayers these are.

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Thanks for reading my blog! Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins. (Special thanks this week to Nadia, just for being your awesome self.)

Class Notes for Life Skills #4 – Waiting

Quotations to Prime the Pump

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5 NLT
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5, 6 NLT


“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.” Simone Weil


“A waiting person is a patient person. The word ‘patience’ implies the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Impatient people expect the real thing to happen somewhere else, and therefore they want to get away from the present situation and go elsewhere. For them the moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are.” Henri Nouwen


“We don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find . . . is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. Even if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other side of the continent, we find the very same problem awaiting us when we arrive. it keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us: Where are we separating ourselves from reality? How are we pulling back instead of opening up? How are we closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter?” Pema Chödrön


“We dare not get rid of the pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. . . . Fixing something doesn’t usually transform us. We try to change events in order to avoid changing ourselves. We avoid God, who works in the darkness–where we are not in control! Maybe that is the secret: relinquishing control. We must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning.” Richard Rohr


“Waiting for clarity of call, waiting until God shows us the next right step, waiting for the Spirit to go ahead of us to light the way. When it’s not clear to us what is invited, we wait, watch and pray. And we trust that sometimes the Spirit is working just fine without us, as much as we’d like to help. There’s an art to the waiting, I’ve learned. Wait expectantly without expectations. Watch for what wants to unfold now, not for what I want to unfold. Pray that I may see what is being invited without imposing what I think would be the best solution. Waiting is not passive and disinterested. Waiting is not turning away. Waiting is an active, prayerful stance, a time of alert openness, a space of listening from mind-in-heart. . . . ” Leah Rampy


“Another will is greater, wiser and more intelligent than my own. So I wait. Waiting means that there is another whom I trust and from whom I receive. My will, important and essential as it is, finds a Will that is more important, more essential. . . . in prayer we are aware that God is in action and that when the circumstances are ready, when others are in the right place and when my heart is prepared, I will be called into action. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Eugene Peterson

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which quote really affected you (convicted, provoked, challenged, etc.)? Talk about that.
  2. Do you “hate to wait?” Why is that?
  3. How do you know when you’ve waited long enough?

  • REMEMBERING APPLICATION:
  • Moving From Head to Heart,
  • Moving From Words to Deeds,
  • Moving from Self-love to Love of God and Others

  1. After this discussion, is there something specific, measurable, and realistic that you are going to practice in order to develop “waiting” as a new skill?
  2. How does the practice of waiting, as you understand it, make you more able to be a person who loves well (who practices compassion and justice)?

The quotes from this week come from Wisdom From the Margins*: 2-25, 3-4, 4-7, 4-14, 6-3, & 6-14 *This is the book we will use for this discussion. If you can, try to read one reading daily in the book (perhaps the reading for that calendar day, or the ones here in italics).


For further consideration (to do before or after the session)

Three possible ways to go deeper:

(1) Set aside at least 10 minutes, find a quiet place, settle yourself with some deep breathing, and read through these words slowly, phrase by phrase, asking God to make clear to you what you need to hear most. (Maybe write that down on a 3.5 card.)

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some states of instability–and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually–let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you. And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


(2) If you’re looking for a specific way to practice waiting, this is something you could start to work on–waiting for the other person to continue talking instead of jumping in to take your turn! Oy! FOTFL.


“When a pro interviewer feels a subject is holding something back on a particular topic, they’ll often use the power of silence at the end of the answer to draw out more information. Here’s how journalist Jim Lehrer describes it: ‘If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you’ll discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he’ll go in a different direction.’ try counting to three–or five if you can stand it–after your subject answers a tough or thoughtful question. This method can seem agonizing at first, but–used with empathy–it works wonders to develop a deeper rapport between two people. . . . of course we’d all like to think of ourselves as attentive, curious students of the world, but one little thing gets in the way: our own egos. it’s not our fault–we’re hardwired that way. After all, talking about ourselves feels as good to our brains as money or sex. That’s why ego suspension is so essential to cultivating the kind of curiosity that lets you connect with others. Robin Dreeke . . . explains: ‘Most times, when two individuals engage in a conversation, each patiently waits for the other person to be done with whatever story he or she is telling. Then, the other person tells his or her own story, usually on a related topic and often times in an attempt to have a better and more interesting story. Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story.” Courtney Siete


(3) If these prayers resonate, try praying either or both of them through the week:

Abba, help me walk rather than race, receive rather than grasp, and relax rather than strive. Help me step into the flow of your divine life rather than living a frenzied version of my very human life. Help me focus on being with you and leave the results to you.

Abba, keep me from moving on before what you’re doing manifests itself. Cure me of impatience (my hurried self), impulsivity (my thoughtless self), and anxiety (my fearful self).


If this discussion sounds like something you might be interested in, please contact me for more details. (Bill @ wm_britton@mac.com) Also, if you’re in a completely different time zone and you’re interested, also please let me know, since a second gathering time, designed for people in the Eastern hemisphere may be possible. (If you know of someone for this, please let me know.)

Daily Riches: The Agony of Being Alone (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

“. . . the immense silence where I live alone.” May Sarton

“The thirst for companionship, which drives us so often into error and adventure, indicates the intense loneliness from which we suffer. We are alone even with our friends. The smattering of understanding which a human being has to offer is not enough to satisfy our need of sympathy. Human eyes can see the foam, but not the seething at the bottom. In the hour of greatest agony we are alone. It is such a sense of solitude which prompts the heart to seek the companionship of God. He alone can know the motives of our actions; He alone can be truly trusted. Prayer is confidence, unbosoming oneself to God. For man is incapable of being alone. His incurable, inconsolable loneliness forces him to look for things yet unattained, for people yet unknown. He often runs after a sop, but soon retires discontented from all false or feeble companionship. Prayer may follow such retirement.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God.
Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
1 Kings 8:28 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Heschel is very polite when he refers to what we sometimes fall into as “adventure.” Has your “thirst for companionship” ever driven you into “adventure?”
  • Have you experienced the painful limits of human friendship, no matter how good? . . . that no friend, but only God, can ultimately suffice “in the hour of greatest agony [when] we are alone”–when our “immense solitude”, our “inconsolable loneliness” can be salved only by the companionship of God?
  • In your well of loneliness have you been able to “unbosom” yourself in prayer to God?

Abba, come to me in my well of loneliness–in that immense silence where I live alone.

For More: Man’s Quest For God by Abraham J. Heschel

Daily Riches: Skipping the Appointed Hour of Prayer (Abraham Heschel)

“Of all the sacred acts, first comes prayer.” Abraham Heschel

“About a hundred years ago Rabbi Isaac Meir Alter of Ger pondered over the question of what a certain shoemaker of his acquaintance should do about his morning prayer. His customers were poor men who owned only one pair of shoes. The shoemaker used to pick up their shoes at a late evening hour, work on them all night and part of the morning, in order to deliver them before their owners had to go to work. When should the shoemaker say his morning prayer? Should he pray quickly the first thing in the morning, and then go back to work? Or should he let the appointed hour of prayer go by and, every once in a while, raising his hammer from the shoes, utter a sigh: ‘Woe unto me, I haven’t prayed yet!’? Perhaps that sign is worth more than prayer itself. We, too, face this dilemma of wholehearted regret or perfunctory prayer, waiting for an urge that is complete, sudden, and unexampled. But the unexampled is scarce, and perpetual refraining can easily grow into a habit. We may even come to forget what to regret, what to miss.” Heschel

“Of all things we do prayer is the least expedient, the least worldly, the least practical. This is why prayer is an act of self-purification. This is why prayer is an ontological necessity.” Heschel

“To avoid prayer constantly is to force a gap between man and God which can widen into an abyss.” Heschel

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple
at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon.”
Acts 3:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The practice of daily prayer at fixed times has long been part of the practice of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. If it’s not your practice, have you ever considered its merits? . . . how might it benefit you?
  • Scheduled prayer can become “perfunctory.” Why be involved in something like that? What does Heschel say?
  • Practical pressures easily make prayer seem “the least expedient . . . the least practical” thing to do. In what way might stopping to pray at scheduled times be an “an act of self-purification” for you? Is prayer the “first” of all your sacred acts?

Abba, bring me back to you over and over throughout the day. I’m ever drifting.

For More: Man’s Quest For God by Abraham Heschel

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Daily Riches: The Imperialism of the Self . . . In Marriage (Frank Sheed)

“Marriage . . . is not all magic. Husband and wife must work hard at it. If one is making no effort, the other must work twice as hard. Love helps, though it is precisely love that is in danger of losing its elan with so much to depress it; prayer helps tremendously. But, in the purely psychological order, nothing helps so much as the reverence that flows from a right vision of what man is–that this loutish man, this empty-headed woman, is God’s image, an immortal spirit, loved by Christ even to the death of the Cross: whatever the surface looks like, this is in the depth of every human being, this in him is what God joined together with this in her. The realization that there is this welding of two into one in the depths of their being, below the level that the eye of the mind can see, is the most powerful incentive to make that union in depth effective through every layer of personality. This reverence is a safeguard against one of the great dangers of family life–the tendency of one partner to form, or re-form, the other . . . in his [or her] own image. There is a sort of imperialism to which the self is liable, the desire to impose its own likeness. As we have already seen, one should not lightly try to re-make another: but, if re-making there must be, assuredly the only image in which any one should be re-made is the image of God in which he [or she] was made.” Frank J. Sheed

“Above all, love each other deeply,
because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have a “right vision” of who you are? . . . of your spouse? Take some time to picture your spouse as God’s beloved image-bearer, as one treasured by God.
  • Prayer and loving like Jesus (Ephesians 5:25) will also be necessary. Are you praying God’s blessing on your spouse? How does your love for your spouse resemble God’s love for you?
  • Do you have an “imperialistic” attitude where you’re insisting on what you know is best for your spouse? Can you humble yourself instead, and allow God to work in your spouse (and in you) in God’s way and time?

Abba, I need your work in me. I’ll leave my spouse to you. Help us both.

For more: Marriage and the Family by Frank J. Sheed

Daily Riches: The Longest Journey … The Journey Inward (Howard Thurman, Geri Scazzero and Dag Hammarsjold)

“We have become adept at exploring outer space, but we have not developed similar skills in exploring our own personal inner spaces. In fact the longest journey is the journey inward.” Dag Hammarsjold

“All travelers, somewhere along the way, find it necessary to check their course, to see how they are doing. We wait until we are sick, or shocked into stillness, before we do the commonplace thing of getting our bearings. And yet, we wonder why we are depressed, why we are unhappy, why we lose our friends, why we are ill-tempered. This condition we pass on to our children, our husbands, our wives, our associates, our friends. Cultivate the mood to linger. …Who knows? God may whisper to you in the quietness what [God] has been trying to say to you, oh, for so long a time.” Howard Thurman

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you cultivating the “ability to linger?” …to be quiet enough for long enough to sense what God is showing you about your life?
  • Have you been listening to your “inner rhythms?” …asking the kind of practical questions Scazzero suggests?
  • What changes can you make to the way you live to build in more lingering and listening?

Abba, I know not everything is fine, and that you can show me where change is needed. Help me to listen for that.

For More: I Quit! by Gerri Scazzero

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Hearing God’s Voice Over All the Noise (Karen-Marie Yust, Thomas Merton and Chris Tomlin)

“Advertising treats all products with the reverence and the seriousness due to sacraments.” Thomas Merton

“The danger in the rampant commercialization of abundant life is not so much in the particular value (or lack thereof) of a specific product being marketed, but in the insidious ways in which advertising campaigns steal a person’s ability to discern what is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous. Advertisers kill an individual’s sense of self-worth and uniqueness in the eyes of God by promoting excessive regard for the approval of others and competition for the most stuff, rather than promoting good living as collaboration with each other. …Christians need to embrace spiritual practices that will enable them to identify and resist commercial messages that undermine their primary identity as children of God and disciples of Christ. …One critical spiritual practice for discernment is attentiveness. First, Christians need to pay attention to the number of commercial messages to which they are exposed daily and the common themes embedded in those advertisements. With researchers estimating that individuals view or hear as many as five thousand messages each day, paying attention could quickly become a full-time job! What matters here is not a comprehensive attentiveness but an increasing awareness of the pervasive and corrosive nature of commercial influences. Second, Christians need to pay attention to God’s voice as a counterpoint to the negative aspects of advertising. Such attentiveness can occur when individuals, families, and congregations deliberately separate themselves from the noisiness of everyday life and spend time in the set apart ‘pastures’ [John 10:9] of personal and communal prayer, contemplation, and worship.” Karen-Marie Yust

“life does not consist
in an abundance of possessions.”
Jesus in Luke 12:15

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see good living as “collaboration” with others rather than competition with others? What does your answer say about you?
  • Do you have practices that allow you to hear God’s voice over the “noisiness of everyday life” and act as a counterpoint to all the “pervasive and corrosive” ad campaigns?
  • Are you fighting this battle alone–with no “communal” support? …just depending on what you receive at church? …failing to seek God for yourself to discern what “is necessary for a fruitful life and what is extraneous?”

Abba, you’re a good, good father–it’s who you are … and I’m loved by you–it’s who I am…. (Chris Tomlin)

For more: Feasting on the Gospels: John (Part II), eds, Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

 

Daily Riches: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: Soldiering On In Ministry (Ruth Haley Barton)

“One of the occupational hazards for those of us in ministry is that it can become hard to distinguish between the times when we are ‘on’ and working for God and times when we can just be with God for our own soul’s sake. We might notice that Scripture has been reduced to a textbook or a tool for ministry rather than an intimate personal communication from God to us. Perhaps prayer has become an exhausting round of different kinds of mental activity or a public display of our spiritual prowess. When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others. Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God’s presence and to be with God with what is true about us in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve. …on retreat there is time and space to attend to what is real in our own lives—to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed tears, sit with the questions, feel anger, attend to loneliness—and allow God to be with us in those places. These are not times for problem solving because not everything can be solved. On retreat we rest ourselves in God and wait on him to do what is needed and we return to the battle with fresh energy and keen insight.” Ruth Hayley Barton

“My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you living/working “for God” without spending time “with God?”
  • Are you emotionally and spiritually exhausted? …running on fumes? …ready to melt down, blow up or burn out?
  • Are you living/ministering out of a place of emptiness? … “a parched and weary land?”
  • If your answers are “yes” to these questions, you’re in a very dangerous place. Can you make some changes? If not, what does that mean?

Abba, may my life and ministry flow out of a cultivated intimacy with you. Only you can do what needs to be done.

For more: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Drowning Out Cries of the Oppressed with the Noise of Hymns (Abraham Heschel)

“In [ancient] Israel … sacrifice is an essential act of worship. It is the experience of giving oneself vicariously to God and of being received by Him. And yet, the pre-exilic prophets uttered violent attacks on sacrifices (Amos 5:21-27; Hos. 6:6; Isa. 1:11-17; Mic. 6:6-8; Jer. 6:20; 7:21-23; Isa. 61:1-2; Pss. 40:7; 50:12-13). Samuel insisted: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Sam. 15:22). However, while Samuel stressed the primacy of obedience over sacrifice, Amos and the prophets who followed him not only stressed the primacy of morality over sacrifice, but even proclaimed that the worth of worship, far from being absolute, is contingent upon moral living, and that when immorality prevails, worship is detestable. Questioning man’s right to worship through offerings and songs, they maintained that the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness. …Of course, the prophets did not condemn the practice of sacrifice in itself; otherwise, we should have to conclude that Isaiah intended to discourage the practice of prayer (Isa. 1:14-15). They did, however, claim that deeds of injustice vitiate both sacrifice and prayer. Men may not drown the cries of the oppressed with the noise of hymns, nor buy off the Lord with increased offerings. The prophets disparaged the cult when it became a substitute for righteousness.” Abraham Heschel – The Prophets

“I hate all your show and pretense—
    the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
    I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
    an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of the “worth of your worship” as being “contingent upon [your] moral living?” …as an individual? …as a congregation?
  • Do you live as though “the primary way of serving God is through love, justice and righteousness?” If not, what is your primary “way?”
  • Is your congregation perhaps satisfied with and distracted by “the noise of hymns”, and oblivious to the “cries of the oppressed?” …are you?

Daily may we hearken to you, O Yahweh.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Let Your Anger Teach You (Henri Nouwen)

“This afternoon I had a long talk with John Eudes (the abbot of the monastery). He was very open, personal, warm, and made it easy to talk freely. I talked mostly about my anger: my inclination to become angry and irritated with people, ideas, or events.  …I realised that my anger created restlessness, brooding, inner disputes, and made prayer nearly impossible. But the most disturbing anger was the anger at myself for not responding properly, for not knowing how to express my disagreement, for external obedience while remaining rebellious from within, and for letting small and seemingly insignificant events have so much power over my emotional life. In summary: passive aggressive behaviour. We talked about this on many levels and in many ways. Most important for me at this point seem the following … suggestions:

  • Allow your angry feelings to come to your awareness and have a careful look at them. Don’t deny or suppress them, but let them teach you.
  • Do not hesitate to talk about angry feelings even when they are related to very small or seemingly insignificant issues. When you don’t deal with anger on small issues, how will you ever be ready to deal with it in a real crisis?
  • Your anger can have good reasons. Talk to [someone] about it. …If [that person feels] that your anger is unrealistic or disproportionate, then [you and they] can have a closer look at what made you respond so strongly. …
  • On a deeper level you might wonder how much of your anger has to do with ego inflation. Anger often reveals how you feel and think about yourself and how important you have made your own ideas and insight. When God becomes again the center and when you can put yourself with all your weaknesses in front of Him, you might be able to take some distance and allow your anger to ebb away and pray again.” Henri Nouwen
“Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
but the wise will calm anger.”
Proverbs 29:8
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Have you experienced how anger can neutralize prayer–and the reverse?
  • Do you find that “small and seemingly insignificant events have so much power over your emotional life?”
  • Can you “take a look” at your angry feelings and “let them teach you?” (e.g., “What does my response say about me?”)
  • What is your anger telling you about “how you feel and think about yourself?” …about your sense of your own importance?

Abba, let me learn the hard lessons my anger wants to teach me.

For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Furious Love of God (Brennan Manning, John Chrysostom and Edwina Gateley)

“Many Christians have never have grabbed ahold of God. They do not know, really know, that God dearly and passionately loves them. Many accept it theoretically; others in a shadowy sort of way. While their belief system is invulnerable, their faith in God’s love for them is remote and abstract. They would be hard-pressed to say that the essence of their faith-commitment is a love affair between God and themselves. Not just a simple love affair but a furious love affair. How do we grab ahold of God? How do we overcome our sadness and isolation? …How, how, how? The answer comes irresistibly and unmistakably: prayer. …The task of contemplative prayer is to help me achieve the conscious awareness of the unconditionally loving God dwelling within me.” Brennan Manning

“God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we’re able to love ourselves.” John Chrysostom

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.”
“Let Your God Love You” by Edwina Gateley

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.”
Jesus, to his disciples in John 15:9

  • Year’s ago a Christian friend embarrassed me by asking, “So, do you love the Lord?” I wanted to talk about my “invulnerable belief system.” Is your relationship with God “a furious love affair?”
  • Manning makes it clear that many of us struggle with this. We know God’s love for us in a “shadowy way” or “theoretically.” It’s difficult for us to overcome “our sadness and isolation” from God. Are you able to be still and quiet, just “letting God look upon you” with the same love he has for Jesus his son – soaking in it, soaking it in? Why not do that now?
  • Is the way you practice prayer likely to lead you into a growing sense of God’s love for you? If not, what needs to change?

Abba, help me want you and seek you as much as you want me and seek me. Dissatisfy me with theory. Move me past theology. Unnerve me with your furious unfailing love for me.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Seeking God, Escaping Illusion (Thomas Merton)

“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton

“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great

“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor

“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses

*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God

“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
  • The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?

Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: God’s Work in Your Loved Ones (Dallas Willard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“What is the wisdom of the snake? It is to be watchful and observant until the time is right to act. It is timeliness. One rarely sees a snake chasing its prey or thrashing about in an effort to impress it. But when it acts, it acts quickly and decisively. And as for the dove, it does not contrive. It is incapable of intrigue. Guile is totally beyond it. There is nothing indirect about this gentle creature. It is in this sense ‘harmless.’  … These are qualities we must have to walk in the kingdom with others, instead of trying to drive them to change their ways and attitudes and even who they are. …As long as I am condemning my friends or relatives, or pushing my ‘pearls’ on them, I am their problem. They have to respond to me, and that usually leads to their ‘judging’ me right back…. But once I back away, maintaining a sensitive and nonmanipulative presence, I am no longer their problem. As I listen, they do not have to protect themselves from me, and they begin to open up. I may quickly begin to appear to them as a possible ally and resource. Now they begin to sense their problem to be the situation they have created, or possibly themselves. Because I am no longer trying to drive them, genuine communication, real sharing of hearts, becomes an attractive possibility. The healing dynamic of the request comes naturally into play. …It is a natural extension of this dynamic when we turn to ask God to work in their lives and hearts to bring about changes. These changes will certainly involve more than any conscious choice they could make or we could desire.” Dallas Willard

“Christ stands between me and others [and] … as only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love…. Thus this spiritual love will speak to Christ about a brother more than to a brother about Christ. It knows that the most direct way to others is always through prayer to Christ….” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“be as shrewd as snakes
and as harmless as doves.”
Matthew 10:16

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your love for others characterized by nagging and coercion?
  • Do you really know what is best for them? …what God has for them?
  • Is “fixing” others a distraction from “fixing” yourself?

Abba, in my love, help me honor others, and your work in them.

For More: Presence and Recovery by Anneke Campbell

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I hope you’ll follow “Daily Riches.” Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Seeking God, Escaping Illusion (Thomas Merton – on his centenary)

“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton

“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great

“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor

“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses

*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God

“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
  • The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?

Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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