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Archive for the ‘Praying the Psalms’ Category

When someone says “I prayed about…” or “I pray and God never seems to answer,” that person may be speaking of a form of Prayers of Petition. Crying “Help!” to God is perhaps our common prayer, known almost universally in times of fear or despair. Unfortunately, this prayer is often done with an attitude similiar to a child sitting on Santa Claus lap – let’s call this the “Santa Claus” prayer.

On one hand, becoming like a child has merit. A story of Jesus from Matthew 18:2-4 goes like this:

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

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The Eastern Orthodox prayer book directs the disciple to pray Psalm 51 (Psalm 50 in the Orthodox Bible) daily. This is the prayer of David asking for forgiveness when he woke up to his sinful and abusing behavior towards Bathsheba and her husband. Rape, murder, arrogance of power – sins most respond to with utter horror and calls for life in prison if not the death penalty. And this from God’s beloved chosen king.

I’ve been praying this psalm daily for about four months now. It never seems to get old to me. Each time I read it, speak it, meditate upon it, it reaches to someplace deeper.
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I’ve been observing a very stately elderly East Indian gentleman in our apartment complex. Whenever I go for a walk, I wave to him. It always seemd to me that he wasn’t sure how to respond. After several months of this, I decided to introduce myself. He was outside his apartment in a long dress coat, and dress hat bouncing a tennis ball against the garage door. I asked if he needed a partner. Fortunately for me, he said no (I can’t play tennis to save my life). However, we ended up talking for almost an hour. It seems he imigrated to this country from Bangledesh about 20 years ago. He has a degree in history from a University in India. Our conversation covered many topics but came in the end to our current political situation. He is convinced that our president is mentally ill and for this he has compassion. He is very worried about our future. He went on at length about the history of leadership and the ability to put one’s followers above oneself as a sign of successful leadership. He spoke of Alexander the Great and Ghandi among others.
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Psalm 62

“For God alone my soul waits in silence…Trust in God at all times, O people, pour out your heart before him, God is a refuge for us. Those of low estate are but a breath,those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.” I read this and then hear the news. The news of the day frightens me. The powerful, as righteous as they may intend to be, know nothing of poverty, nothing of making a life out of one’s own resources, no friendship with anyone born in poverty or disabled by a force of nature. And yet, thier decisions, the laws they pass and the programs they slash offend and anger the very God to which they pray thier pious prayers.
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