Voices of Prayer

 

prayer

Elihu Vedder

1836-1923

*****

Answer me when I call, O God of my right. 

You gave me room when I was in distress. 

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 4:1

*****

      “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.”  The psalmist cries out in desperation.  His life has been difficult, and he wants God to set things right.  His plea is urgent, even demanding.  He wants action from God.  He wants a resolution to his problems.  Now!  “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.” 

      How often our prayers begin in this same demanding voice.  We’re hurting.  Or someone we love is hurting, and we storm into God’s presence, an urgent demand, or sometimes a list of urgent demands, in our hands.  Do something, God.  Fix what’s wrong and make it right.  “Answer me when I call, O God of my right.”

      A pause to catch our frantic breath.  And often in that moment of pause, we find ourselves carried back to an earlier distress, an earlier time when we felt as desperate as we do now.  “You gave me room when I was in distress.”  A whisper.  Ah, yes.  We sigh.  That was a tough time, and there were no easy answers.  There was no instant solution, no snapping of God’s fingers to make everything fine and dandy once again.  Instead, we remember that we were given “room,” space in which we could carefully work through the problem and, with a few stumbles here and there, find our way to a place of greater wholeness.  The memory calms us.  Quiets us.  Leads us to yet another voice in which to pray.

      “Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.”  We crumple our list of demands.  Our voice softens.  Becomes more humble.  Yes, we are still distraught.  Yes, our needs are still urgent.  But no longer do we wave before God the flag of entitlement.  No longer do we insist on God’s instant response to our needs.  It is enough for now to know we are heard.  Enough for now to know we are not alone.  Enough for now to know that the “God of my right” will give us room, space in which to live and work through our dilemma.  Enough to know this God will also be with us in that space—to direct, to comfort, and to strengthen. 

*****

Answer me when I call, O God of my right. 

You gave me room when I was in distress. 

Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

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