There is a scandalous little line in the Psalms, when the praying person entreats God to 'bow down Your ear.'

Consider the implications of such an invocation. A subject of the Most High, who ought to approach in trembling obeisance, asks the King to bow down to him. We picture the master stooping to the level of the servant, bending his neck so the servant can speak at his eye level, the King's ears to the subject's mouth.

The Lord lowers himself to pay attention to an individual's particular troubles, even doing for her what she asks.

What kind of king is this who would kneel down before his subjects?

(Adam S. McHugh, The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction)

Psalm 17*

I called out to you because you answer me, God.

Lean down your ear toward me; listen to my speaking.

Make your kindnesses distinct, so I can see them. Save those who seek your refuge by lifting your right arm.

Guard over me the way an iris keeps watch over an eye. Under the shadow of your wings, give me shelter.

Prayer Prompt: Have you ever noticed that the Psalms give you permission to ask the God of the Universe to "bend down" and listen to you?

What kind of audacious request is this?

Apparently, when we are in distress, when we need God, when we seek God's wisdom, God's help, God's comfort, we get to make this bold request.

Try it now: "God, bend down your ear and listen to me." Go ahead and say those words, close your eyes and imagine it if you'd like. God - however you choose to imagine - bending low, so close, the Divine ear right next to your mouth. Ready, willing, attentive, listening. To you.

Tell God everything. Every. Thing. Take your time. God has all the time in the universe. No editing; let it all out.

And when you've said your peace, ask:

  • Make your kindnesses distinct, God, so I can see them.
  • Save me, save those I pray for, by your mighty right arm.
  • Guard over me like an iris guards an eye.
  • Tuck me right under the shelter of your wings.

Breathe ...

And go about your day knowing that the Most High has bent low to listen to you.

Your only job to trust that you were heard; to keep your eyes open for God's many kindnesses.


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