The Practice of Praying Scripture: Psalm 51Aug 15, 2018
Reading the Bible isn’t just a “learn about God” activity. It is a “listen to God and respond” practice. When I hear that “the word of God is alive and active (Heb 4:12),” this is what I think about.
A while back, when I was still writing An Unhurried Leader, I wrote this prayer in response to a few verses in Psalm 51:
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Here was my prayer of response:
“Unite my divided heart, O God. Clear my cloudy heart. Simplify my complicated heart. Draw back my wandering and easily-distracted spirit and put within me a more steadfast one. Enable me to walk simple, straight and strong. Enable me to walk in the light of your loving presence, especially when I don’t feel like it. May your Holy Spirit fill my body, my mind, my heart, my soul with joy. May I know the wholeness and holiness of abiding more deeply in you. Give to me the gift of a spirit that moves in greater harmony with you. I long to agree with you in every way. Jesus, you are truth for me. There is no shadow or untruth in you.
Lord, you know that I continue to wrestle with my practice of silent prayer. I still will grab for the distractions that pass through my mind and heart and let them derail me from my intention rather than letting them go on by in response to your invitation to be still and silent. As David prayed, grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
Finally, Father, you know how I continue to wrestle with my writing work on An Unhurried Leader. I have moments of vision for the work, and then moments when I feel overwhelmed, or timid, or insecure about it. It doesn’t seem to matter that all the objective feedback I’ve received from those close to me has been nothing but positive. I’m tempted to thing that they are just being nice, or have somehow colluded to affirm me falsely. I could simply trust that they have good judgment and are sharing their honest assessment of what they’ve read so far.
When I think about the chapters focused on prayer and on working with God, I feel especially overwhelmed to speak on such themes. I know how far short I fall in practicing my ideals and intentions. But grace is there. I am not writing as an expert who has arrived and who never fails. I can write as someone who is on a journey and has being learning wisdom along the way. I can share honest stories of struggle alongside stories of empowering grace.”
I share this personal prayer about my struggle at times with writing because I’d like to encourage you to keep your prayers honest. I am familiar my shortcomings and I can see when they get in my way. It helps me to bring them to God in prayer so that I don’t remain stuck or shortsighted. God is gracious and I know that bringing my fears and doubts to him results in the return of flow in the creative work I intend to do. So lay it all out there and see if you can find the truth of the situation. My doubts are not the end of the story. God’s grace is.
What passages have been especially meaningful to you recently or in the past?
What would it look like to pray that passage in the light of your real experience of life and work today?
Take a moment to read that passage and pray in response.