"In prayer we intend to leave the world of anxieties and enter a world of wonder. We decide to leave an ego-centered world and enter a God-centered world. We will to leave a world of problems and enter a world of mystery. But it is not easy. We are used to anxieties, egos, and problems; we are not used to wonder, God, and mystery."

(Eugene Peterson, Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer)

Psalm 9*

May you be a lofty refuge for those of crushed spirit,

a place of safety for those in times of distress.

Those who know your nature will trust you --

you never abandon those who seek you out.

Prayer prompts: Have you ever felt crushed in spirit? Think about that imagery: your very center, your heart, your spirit, your soul ... crushed. Flattened. Smashed down. Ruined. Constricted to the extreme.

If you have been there (or maybe are there now) know that God wants to be a lofty refuge for you, a place of safety. If you'd like to, say or think or write out your distress to God. Tell God everything. Leave nothing out, don't edit yourself, don't hold back. Empty your crushed spirit out to God. Take as long as you need. God already knows, so don't worry about details.

When you have done this, try to picture yourself in some kind of refuge, in a place that feels safe for you. Take a moment, take a few deep breaths and visualize yourself there. Picture God there with you, maybe holding you, or sitting very near -- attentive, tender, safe, calm. Stay there as long as you need.

God's nature is filled with kind mercy for his frail and feeble children. God knows how fragile our spirits are, how easily crushed. We can trust God because we know God's nature. God's nature was and is revealed most clearly in the person of Jesus. The same Jesus who touched and healed lepers, protected a woman caught in the most vulnerable moment of her life, and told little children to come right to him. Jesus is the mender of the crushed spirit and Jesus can mend yours. Jesus can mend mine. Let's trust Jesus to do just that.

When we are hurting, we often feel alone, abandoned, bereft. But here we are told God never abandons us when we seek God out. When we turn even one degree toward God in desperation, God hears, God moves. God is with you right now. Rest in that truth. Find peace in that reality.

O my crushed spirit, find your hope in God.


*All excerpts taken from The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation, by Pamela Greenberg.