I have resisted writing this post for a long time. It's a tough one! How do you tell someone about a way to pray? But, I'm going to do it in person tomorrow night, so I may as well do it online tonight.
[I wrote this on Wednesday. The Thursday bible study went pretty well.]
There's a whole lot more than one way to love a father.
You can love his family.
You can love the causes he supports.
You can love the way he runs your family.
You can love the things he's made.
You can love working for him.
That list, of course, is completely wrong. That's not how you love a parent at all. Those are all the things you do after you love that parent. You love a parent by feeling something.
I'm probably going to lose someone when I say that love is a feeling, but such it is. It's not necessarily the same feeling all the time, but it's always a feeling. We work so hard to make sure couples survive that first (and second, and third) cooling of infatuation, that some of us have crippled love. Some teach a love that is strong in truth and action, but end up creating one weak in feeling.
I want to find, feed and foster my feelings of love toward God.
I can show my love to God by loving His family, His purposes, His ways, His works, and His commands; but I actually love Him by loving Him. I will love him by watching Him, and admiring Him, and telling Him of all those things about Him that inspire.
More and more, and in every area of my life, I'm learning how important it is to say things out loud. Thoughts rattling around inside my head are worthless. It's things that come from my mouth that make the difference for me, and for others. I suspect the same is true for God, or there would not be an Eternal Word of God.
The Psalms are the richest collection of expressions of love to God in the world. And they are very "out loud," if we'll read them that way. (No poem should ever be read silently. I don't know much about poetry, but I know that much.) We need to speak these love poems with our tongues.
The Psalms are inspired. They are perfect. They are holy writ, and the Word of God on paper for us.
That said, we still have the opportunity to improve on them.
The Psalms were written about a God Who was hiding behind a veil. David, Solomon and the rest were describing with inspired skill a God Whom they could only vaguely see. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, and not by Words only, but by deeds.
That blinding veil is done away in Christ.
Now we have the opportunity to do away with the veil in the Psalms. We have the opportunity to see His form, His colors, His motions in ways David never could.
And then we have the opportunity to say out loud the beauty we see.
When you declare your love for anyone, you change them. Even when you know each other well, and you trust each other's love, declaring love can refresh purpose and hope. God created us to live on love, and He did so because He lives on love. When we worship Him, we speak truth, and it's good. But when our worship is warmest in love for Him, we fulfill His purpose for creation.
It takes time and effort to write a love poem. (Especially if you have to start from scratch, but by starting with a Psalm, we get past the blank page immediately.) It will take time and effort to create a prayer from a Psalm. But the payoff is real.
You know He's lovely, but don't just repeat what you know. Take a chance. Stretch yourself. By this, you will stretch your love. See Him through new eyes by blending what you have already learned of Him with what the psalmist was seeing. It will be different every time, and every time it will change you and bless Him.
And fail. Just up and write a terrible prayer once in a while. It does us all good to try to express something, and just not be able to. Failure stretches us, too, you know. None of what we write will be inspired stuff. Proving our inadequacy every now and again is mandatory.
So, what do I do when I try to do this?
Well, first I get really, really embarassed. I hate to be embarassed. I'm not one of those people who takes everything in stride. I take everything to heart. And knowing that I am about to make a new prayer out loud nearly drives me back into the safety of writing about doctrine. I can blast away about whether denominations are a mistake, and I'm not really exposing my heart. But, if I say something about Jesus in a prayer like this, it could be irreverent, it could be wrong, it could be boring, or worst of all, it could be true and passionate. No matter what, I am revealed, and it's hard to take that chance.
But we have to.
We have to risk loving God out loud. We have to risk praising Him with all our hearts, and encouraging each other with our successes. We have to keep risking even though sometimes we fail in public. So, I pull the trigger.
The next post will be a step-by-step, the first I've ever done on this. Wish me grace. :-)