This year, I've been doing some devotional reading through the Bible - I'm using the Read Scripture app, which I really cannot recommend highly enough. I'm almost a week behind (but catching up!), so today was the day I got to Deuteronomy 10-14 and Psalms 56-57. And as I've been going, I've been trying my hand at praying through the text - letting it inspire and shape the contours of my prayers. So I'd like to share a little snippet from my prayer journal today:
O Father, circumcise my heart! There is so much broken in the world – the plight of the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the immigrant, the beleaguered and oppressed in every way – and yet my heart is so cold and stony in the face of their plight. I know the good I ought to do. Sometimes I even do it. But I do it without feeling the true pangs of brokenness in my soul. Soften my heart, God, to feel more keenly!
You are the God of gods. You are the Lord of lords. You are great, mighty, and awesome beyond compare. You can't be bribed. Your justice is perfect. You defend the cause of the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the immigrant, the beleaguered and oppressed in every way. You show your love to those whom sinful society loves least. Class me among the least of these, O Lord, and make me more like you – to love the foreigners and the oppressed, as my forebears were oppressed as foreigners and slaves in the land of Egypt.
Teach me to honor and adore you, O Lord my God. Teach me to serve you and to hold fast to you and your teaching. You are my praise, and you are my God. You have done great, mighty, and awesome things for me – not least in the miracle of atonement on the cross of your Son, and in you resurrection of him (and my life embedded in him) from death to life everlasting.
Bind your commandments and your wisdom on my heart and mind, my hands and feet, and in the depths of my soul. Destroy my inward sin, and mortify my flesh, so that I can live abundant life in you and you alone. Swallow up my temptations, my trials, and my tribulations – but set me apart from them, that I might not descend to the pit of the earth myself, as did Dathan and Abiram! Instead, make me strong, make me bold and courageous, to go in where you precede me, that I might share your victory forever.
Let me dwell in the place of your caretaking, the land you water with blessing. Let your eyes be always upon me. Feed me with no abominable vice or spiritual half-measure, but only with your Bread of Life come down from heaven and with your Cup of Blessing, and with every other thing that pleases you – for all things are clean when received with thanks to you, O God. But make me clean, inside and out, and purify me from the vices of my heart. Organize the chaos of my life according to your life-giving wisdom, and not the frailty and folly of my own feeble mind.
Give me a new heart and new spirit wherewith to love you and serve you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength – and to love my neighbors no less than I love my very own self. And do not let my heart by deceived by the enchantments and entrapments of this wilderness, lest I should give to another cause or passion the devotion that I owe to you and you alone.
Let me never be a false prophet, nor a false dreamer of dreams, lest I lead your people astray. Even when I see all other things clearly, let me never deviate from extolling the One True God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for you live and reign as one eternal God, now and forever.
Let me never speak a false word in your name, or twist you to my agendas. But bless me with truth and only truth, to speak a good word in season and out of season. And strengthen your church, the flock whom I shepherd in your name, with a double measure of your Spirit, that we may abound in faith, hope, and love, and might fulfill your purposes as you make them known to us and bless us with your incomparable wisdom.
Lead me back to where I belong, to your holy temple, your church, your Christ – there and there alone is my true Zion, the place that you have appointed for your praise in Spirit and in Truth. Tear down every other altar. Dash to pieces every other pillar. Burn with fire every enticing idol from this idol-factory that is my wicked heart. Lead me instead to your precious habitation where you are, where you place your name.
Place your name on me, to be a portion of your living, breathing, roving tabernacle in the world, to carry your praise, your goodness, and your life-giving power forth into a weary and broken land.
Lead me into the promised rest from all foes, and let me live in safety – but above all, let me live in your love, by your love, and for your love, all the days of my life and throughout the endless age to come. There and now may I walk before you in the light of endless and abundant life.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge forever!