“Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing” ( Psalm 5:1 NRSV).
When someone listens, really listens to you, they “give ear” to you. They “give heed” to you.
Isn’t it remarkable that God will listen to us in that way?
Sometimes my prayers are made of words. Sometimes my prayers are made of sighs. Sometimes my prayers are made of a word here, a sigh there.
Isn’t it remarkable that God will listen, really listen to us whether our prayers are made of words, sighs, or both?
Thank you, loving Father, for giving ear. Thank you for giving heed. How many times have you listened to my words? How many times have you listened to my sighs? Thank you.
A few days ago I participated in a reflective prayer exercise. One part of the exercise involved reflecting on Colossians 1:9-12.
Many phrases and words in this passage caught my eye and fueled prayer.
But there were three words in particular that just stopped me momentarily before they redirected my prayer in another direction.
Those three words: “giving joyful thanks.”
Reading a psalm is a part of my morning prayer liturgy. Some days the reading is refreshing. Other days it is soothing. And then there are those rare days when the reading is upsetting, troubling, or even downright disturbing.
Yesterday was one of those days. I wrestled with the reading all day long. I was upset, troubled, and disturbed. The last thing I did last night before falling asleep was to share with God my thoughts about the reading.
Though I have read that particular psalm repeatedly, I do not recall ever being so disturbed by it. Perhaps my being surrounded by so much death and disease recently was the reason for my reaction.
Bottom line, I am thankful to have had this day-long conversation with God even though I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. And I’m thankful for a God who is so patient with me as to listen to my heart and my words.
By including the following prayer of confession (from The Book of Common Prayer) in my morning prayer liturgy, I am reminded of my sins and God’s grace and forgiveness.
Remembering my sins and God’s grace affects how I treat people throughout the day. How can I judge others when I sin, too? When I have had God’s grace generously poured out on me, how can I not share that grace with others?
I cannot imagine beginning the day without praying this prayer.
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.
I need courage, and lots of it, to lay down my life. Sometimes I need that courage day by day. Other times I need that courage hour by hour. But if I am being honest, most days I need that courage minute by minute. Today is one of those days.
Give me courage to lay down my life, right now, in this moment.
In Jesus’s name,
This week I was reminded of David’s practice of praying seven times per day (Ps 119:164), Daniel’s practice of praying three times per day (Daniel 6:10), Jesus’s practice of getting up at dawn to pray or even pull an all-nighter in prayer (Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12), and Peter’s practice of observing hours of prayer (Acts 3:1; 10:9).
Reading these practices reminded me that having a plan to practice praying can be good, healthy, and soul-nourishing.
It also reminded me that we make time for what we value.
And oh yes, it reminded me that without a plan to practice prayer, it is easy to fail to pray.
Want a more enriching prayer life? Plan a practice of prayer.
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.