The great pastor and theologian, Eugene Peterson, said:
"God hears anything we whisper or shout, say or sing. Right words and correct forms are not prerequisite to a heavenly audience. God is not fastidious in these matters."
Thank God, right?
Prayer can be any form of utterance we throw out into the universe. God is not fussy.
At the same time, God has given humanity a gift, a tool to help us pray when words seem to die on our tongues.
The Psalms, as Peterson proclaims, are "God's gift to train us in prayer that is comprehensive ... and honest."
I have prayed the Psalms for years, reading one Psalm at a time, stopping between verses to express my thoughts, fears, worries, and wishes to God as the Psalmist words prompt me.
I hope to share a part of a Psalm each Sunday, along with corresponding prayers and prompts simply to show one way I have found these ancient and timeless tools helpful.
And oh Lord, do we need tools to help us pray these days.
God said to me, You are my child.
I give birth to you each day.
Pray: Thank you, God, that you love me like a good parent loves their child. Thank you that I don't have to have all the answers, know the future, or figure out what paths I should take. Thank you that you lead and guide me, just as I led and guided the children you blessed me with.
Today is a new day. I am grateful for it. And I am grateful for this reminder that every day is like a new birth, a fresh start, a chance to live in your love and to serve you by loving all those I will interact with. Give me a good heart, for mine is sometimes not that good. AMEN
Come to me with your perplexities
and I will make your people your inheritance;
your possessions will extend to the ends of the earth.
Pray: My head is filled with perplexities, God.
Here they are: Why are we so hateful toward each other? Why do wars rage when we know, we know! that they only bring, death, destruction, despair? Why is our government so dysfunctional? Will our democracy survive this next year? What is my part to play in all of this? Is there anything I can do? Does my little life matter at all? Why do I struggle with the same things day after day? Why can't I fix myself through hard work and discipline? Why do bodies have to age? Is eternity and life in the hereafter a true thing? I really, really hope and pray it is, God. Because in spite of all of it, I love life and I really hope it never ends. AMEN
Feel free to add your personalized prayers to mine. These are only guides.
* All excerpts from The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation by Pamela Greenberg.