Prayer When God is Distant

When the struggles and disappointments of life pile one upon another our minds can wander easily into the territory of “where is God?” Not being naive, we all know that He has not promised a life of ease, with all of the bumps and dips smoothed out before use. Rather, a life of trouble lies before us, sometimes growing greater the closer we draw to God and away from the world. How we react as we face the travails is indicative of how our maturity is proceeding and perhaps, how much further it needs to go.

David offers a valuable scriptural lesson in this arena. Faced with unprovoked attacks he pleads with the Lord for a greater understanding in Psalm 22. He begins with this lamenting cry to the heavens:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me,

so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, and am not silent.

Does David truly believe God has forsaken him after all that he had seen and experienced? He recalls the Patriarchal and nation history that both precedes and includes his own:

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;

you are the praise of Israel.

In you our fathers put their trust;

they trusted and you delivered them.

They cried to you and were saved;

in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

Especially mindful of the fact that that trust in the Lord  was always properly placed, David appropriately praises God despite his immediate troubles, knowing that God so willed it, he too could be saved. This pattern continues as David openly pours out his troubled heart while never blaming God for his condition or situation. Each struggle in David’s mind is countered by an infinitely superior trust in the goodness of God and faith, that good or bad, the events and challenges in our lives deserve nothing but praise to the God who oversees it all. Even if his personal situation were not to improve, David knows that the overarching good of all the world will be seen to be the Lord, and for this He is to praised through the groans and tears.

Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness

to a people yet unborn—

for he has done it.

Amen.

Sunday Prayer of the Contrite

From The Path of Celtic Prayer, Miller reminds us that ” The self-sufficient, on the other hand, see God as a mere topic of discussion. Therefore, only the needy really have a God.”

Attributed to a ninth-century Welsh poet:

Grant me tears, O Lord, to blot out my sins;

may I not cease from tears, O God, until I have been purified.

May my heart be  burned by the fire of redemption…

Grant me contrition of heart so that I may not be in disgrace:

O Lord, protect me and grant me tears,

O Creator flowing in streams from my eyes.

For my anger, my jealousy, and my pride, a foolish deed, in pools

from my inmost parts bring forth tears.

My falsehood, my lying and my greed, grievous the three,

to banish them all from me…grant me tears.