Prayer is a pretty big deal. After all, at Commons we opened this year with prayer and we’re closing the year with prayer. From the Lord’s Prayer in the fall, to the Psalms prayer book in the summer, we’ve got instructions and illustrations to shape our prayerful souls in all seasons.
So what’s prayer to you? Is it the recitation of prayers you learned as a kid? Is prayer the words that spring up inside you like “thank you,” “help me,” and “I’m so sorry”? Maybe prayer is becoming less wordy and more connected to deep breaths, centred contemplation, and heart-soaring awe.
There are Christians in all kinds of traditions that pray the Psalms every day, morning and night. And sure, the prayerful poems are more familiar year after year, but they never stop speaking and shaping the human heart before God. Dive into the Psalms with us this summer and find yourself refreshed with honesty, lament, and praise.
The beauty of the psalms is that they invite us to be honest with ourselves about everything we are feeling because that’s the only way our anger and frustration with the world can be transformed into motivation and hope to change it.
Sometimes we have a tendency to universalize the particular moment we are experiencing. ie. "This is all I will ever feel again." The chance to reset and reform our perspective is as important for us as it is for the author of Psalm 13.
There is a kind of beauty that we notice instinctively and then there is a beauty that we need to see through someone else's eyes. We need their perspective and background and story to help us notice the beauty that is around us always.
When you read the opening of Psalm 26 you can see the author lose sight of his objectivity as he recounts his blamelessness before God. And that's okay. There's a time to objective and then there's a time to be honest about how we feel. Remember that.
Part of the reason poetry is so vital to the scriptural narrative is that it reminds us how limited literal language really is.
There is sometimes a very fine line between being honest with our grief and allowing it to be honoured, and then slipping over the edge into self-destructive, self-pity.
All of our ideas about God are just ideas. None of our concepts can actually contain the Divine. And so unless we intentionally create room for humility, and silence and mystery in our worship we are really just worshiping our own ideas. And that's idolatry.