“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me for I am poor and needy…Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Your servant for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving; abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer-listen for my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon You for You answer me. There is none like You amongst the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For You are great and do wondrous things-you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.” Ps 86:1 and 3-11a
A cry to God from the Psalmist; isn’t this familiar to all of us? Whoops: except maybe recognizing the Goodness of God. Perhaps the most familiar thing is the complaint about our situation and no further than that.
I have a couple (ok: more than a couple) of serious things going on in my life at the moment and I am finding it difficult and habitual to not recognize God and hope in Him. I wring my hands at these various circumstances (figuratively but sometimes physically) and wonder why they are like they are? I succumb to the very familiar phrase: “Why is this happening to me?” (Sometimes I catch myself in self-righteousness and amend the phrase to only “Why is this happening?” but I have to face it: in my mind I am always adding “to me?”.)
I have to notice that the Psalmist doesn’t have a particular issue stated. “I am poor and needy-be gracious to me—You are abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You…” This isn’t just a financial oriented prayer; this is recognition that I am poor and needy in all things. The Psalmist has it right: I am not self-sufficient in anything no matter what I pridefully think.
So what do I do? When my voice gets caught in my throat and my tears are unending; when my anxiousness and fear grabs me and threatens not to let me go-what do I do?
Sunday school answer: I must look to God my savior. Uh huh, ok, and…? Easy and predictable answer but how is this done? What do I do to “look to God my savior?” It is hard to next to impossible to give a step by step procedure about this. After all when I get a procedure about something there is an expectation of a certain result, a particular success. That is why having a “relationship with God” isn’t a procedure, a formula, or anything such. We cry, we shout, we talk, we pray without ceasing because He is our sufficiency. He is our Grace. He is our Mercy and Righteousness. Like Jason said Sunday, we have an inadequate and low view of the Love of God towards us because we do not have the facility to understand perfect Love from the Eternal Trinity. But He is not a genie. He answers when it is Wise to do so.
So what do I do? I must determine to break through my habits of lackluster prayer; the forms of prayer that fall on deaf ears and drop like lead weights on the floor. I can use the models of prayer that our Lord provides us in Psalms and elsewhere in the Holy Bible. I can use the models of prayer of Saints that preceded us-we can stand on their shoulders. We can read and pray out loud; we can put effort and imagination on how these prayers were spoken. We can embrace them passionately.
We can change our mind not to say prayers, but to pray.
Lord God: HEAR MY PRAYER!! This is not impertinent to raise my voice to You. You want me to release the depths of my heart; you want me to pray with scandalous passion. I am redeemed by your scandalous sacrifice on the Cross. I want that type of passion in me towards You.
Make me a fully equipped Disciple. Teach me to pray loudly and with passion. Teach me to hear your whisper in my ear. Teach me to not be self-absorbed or afraid of mouths that wage against You. Help me learn to pray faithfully and to wait upon You and Your deliverance. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, right? AMEN