Another Offering for the Poetry Project
Read Psalm 15
Some months ago, I attended a theology conference in Chicago, and sat down with a pastor from California going through a difficult time with his leadership. Men he loved, gradually had turned away from him and he felt alone and abandoned not only by them but by God himself. This morning God brought him to mind and drew me to prayer for him. But he is not alone. Christian workers and frankly, Christians in general, face these kind of things all the time. And so, for all those pastors and elders, leaders and followers, Sunday School workers and all who have placed their faith in the only One who can make us pure and fit us for heaven: Psalm 17 seems to be a fitting beginning to our prayers when opposition threatens to undo us.
Before we argue, before we defend, before we counter-narrative with those who we think are our enemies, we would be wise to step back and invite the Holy Spirit to examine our motives. Who of us really knows our motives completely? Only God. We are often corrupt and defensive when attacked or questioned about our behavior, at least I am, sometimes. Maybe more than I am aware of and that’s why I/we need the Holy Spirit to interrogate our view of reality. It may be that our enemies are friends in disguise.
And that’s why Psalm 17 is great place to give us words to pray. The pastor who preceded me has written a book, How to Ask God for What He Wants to Give You. It’s a good title and although I have not yet finished it, it seems to be headed in the right direction. The words of God reveal the will of God and are a better place to start our prayers than the imaginations of our heart. So, at 5 AM, from a non-morning person with special attention to verses 1-8 and 15 . . .
A Reflection on Psalm 17
When I pray your words rather than my own,
conviction of sin and humility companion my travels.
I hear David pray a prayer without deceitful lips
and that becomes my desire.
O Lord, in every crisis
be the interrogator of my heart.
Be the prober of mysteries and darkness and subtleties of deceit
that my sin longs to hide or ignore.
O God, hear my prayer
for my enemies, who you call me to love,
and who surround me and circle about me like ravenous wolves,
seeking opportunity to devour and remove me from the earth.
Try my heart. Uncover every thought that blinds me.
Give me clarity and direction for a right path.
Do all that I ask for my accusers as well, O God,
that brothers may dwell in unity and shalom may reign again.
Forgive them O God, for they know not what they do.
Keep us, all of us, as the apple of your eye
and hide us in the shadow of your wings,
that the glory of your Name might be exalted.
Show us your steadfast love
so that your work would abound
and your Kingdom would flourish
and your people would abound with praise.
For we shall all behold your face.
We shall all give an account of our lives.
We shall all one day, awake.
And be satisfied that you heard our cries.
And made us like yourself.
Go to Psalm 18