In the morning when I began to wake it happened again that feeling that you, Beloved, had stood over me all night long keeping watch …. … that feeling that as soon as I began to wake, you put your lips to my forehead and lit a holy lamp inside my heart Hafiz, quoted in Seven Sacred Pauses(1) 1) Prayer
(Note: notice that the personal pronouns in today’s prayer are plural. We are not praying and reading in isolation; we are joining our prayers and thoughts with others in our community.)
Take a deep breath, then be still for a moment; then pray, perhaps,
Oh Lord, we come this morning knees bowed and bodies bent before your throne of grace. We come like empty pitchers before a full fountain. We are not gathered for form or fashion, but we come in our humble way to serve you. Meet us, we pray. Guide our thoughts and our hearts. Let the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you and lifegiving to us and to our community. In Jesus name: Amen. (2) 2) Read Psalm 143 (below)
Read it quickly; pause and notice what stands out to you.
Read it slowly; again, pause and notice what stands out to you.
Read it slowly, out loud. If your attention drifts, or if you are particularly struck by a particular section of the chapter, read it again, still slowly and out loud.
Psalm 143: A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. 2 Do not enter into judgement with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, making me sit in darkness like those long dead. 4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands. 6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me, or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. 8 Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Save me, O Lord, from my enemies; I have fled to you for refuge. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life. In your righteousness bring me out of trouble. 12 In your steadfast love cut off my enemies, and destroy all my adversaries, for I am your servant. 3) For Reflection
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. (v. 8)
These days we need an intensified awareness that God is with us and for us, all the time – when we sleep, when we wake up, as we go through the day. We need to know that God is caring for us and attending to our needs and our souls all the time, whether we notice or not.
As the heading of Psalm 143 states, this psalm is a prayer for deliverance from enemies. We are fortunate that we rarely have individuals or armies who are intent on killing us, personally. These days, though, we are in fact besieged.
These days we are called to pray for God to deliver us and our world from a real, clearly identified enemy; an enemy that threatens each of us – particularly those of us “with more life experience” – and that also threatens those whom we would in other circumstances perhaps consider our enemies.
We all need deliverance from the threat of the Coronavirus. What else do you need protection from?
What helps you entrust yourself to God? What do you need to remember, to read, to do? Who do you need to talk to for encouragement and reassurance?
Who might you call so that you can offer one another mutual support?
Who might you not be inclined to pray for? pray for them before you "forget"
5) Prayers (Same outline as yesterday, but today’s thoughts give the words’ meaning a different slant)
for insight about yourself and those you’ve been thinking about
for the ability to accept your foibles and limitations
for the ability to do the same for those you’ve been thinking about
more broadly, for yourself and your loved ones.
for our church, our community, and our world, particularly in light of the pandemic
Thank God for meeting you, for the opportunity to sit, read, and pray, and pray for an awareness of God's presence through the day
(1) Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day. Macrina Wiederkehr. Sorin Books. 2008. (2) Portions adapted from, Conversations With God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans: Washington, James Melvin.New York: First Harper Perennial Edition, 1995.
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