Friday, February 1, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Psalms
Reading the Bible more than reading books about the Bible is the best way to get to know God and know how to honor Him simply as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Reading books about the Bible more than reading the Bible always ends up with more confusion than knowledge and more willfulness than wisdom.
Reading the Bible more than reading books about the Bible causes a simple theocentric conclusion: "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."
Reading books about the Bible more than reading the Bible always ends up with a complex, egocentric, and two-feet-planted-firmly-in-the-air compass without a needle: "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say but I think..."
As I have begun to read the Bible more than books about the Bible, I have discovered God gave it to us because He wanted to communicate rather than confuse; noting communication to enable holy communion is God's way while confusion, borrowing a line from the Rolling Stones, has another source devoid of divine light to guide: "Confusing is my game! Can you guess my name?"
Prayer comes to mind.
Despite the many complex, confusing, and conflicting definitions, formulas, and acrostics for prayer, prayer is simply talking to God about everything; or as my pastor Harold explained after separating myself from God and everyone else by degrees, "It's talking to God about what's on your mind and taking time to listen to what's on His mind."
Surely, our talking to God will get around to acknowledging Him as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior (adoration), admitting how we've messed up (confession), appreciating and applauding Him for not holding it against us (thanksgiving), and asking help for others and ourselves (supplications).
Surely, our talking to God will often rely on Matthew 6:9-13 as a perfect guide for prayer: "Our Father, who art in heaven,..."
Surely, our talking to God will ultimately understand His Gethsemane prayer (Matthew 26:39) as perfect holy communication with Him:"Not my will, but Yours be done."
Just as surely, our talking to God will not always include all of those elements all of the time in some kind of rigid religious mumbo-jumbo-simple-Simon-says ritualism so disdained by Jesus for being motions without meaning: "When you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose - for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him."
Prayer is simply talking to God simply.
Prayer is real, honest, timely, and true without the posings of 21st century reincarnations of 16th century Elizabethan King James Version language; recalling how a friend responded to the person who was offended by his earthy language in prayers, "Listen, lady, I wasn't talking to you!"
Again, simply, prayer is simply talking to God simply.
Psalms come to mind.
They are authentic to the moment, emotion, aspiration, adoration, anticipation, acknowledgment, admission, affirmation, supplication, or anything else in anyone's heart, mind, and spirit.
The book is so popular because there's a psalm for every occasion, circumstance, struggling, and happening.
Whenever my prayers seem a little stale or dry or unfocused or just downright down and just about out or I'm in a situation, challenge, concern, care, burden, opportunity, or whatever else life or even God throws my way, I just start simply reading psalms simply until I start simply talking to God simply about whatever, whomever, whyever, wherever, and whenever as guided by one or more into intimacy with Him.
Then it/He happens; or as the psalmist promised, "God inhabits the praises of His people."
Just being with God - simply talking to God simply - enables an intimacy with Him that satisfies the motivation for simply talking to Him simply.
I cannot explain it/Him.
Everyone can experience/express it/Him.
To borrow a line, just do it and He does it.
As the first psalm guides, it/He happens when we dive into our relationship with Him.
Again, it/He cannot be explained; but everyone can experience/express it/Him.
Jesus was very simple about the process and product of such prayers: "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and then He will take care of everything else that's concerning you."
The positive proof of that process and product is seen throughout Psalms; for no matter what the occasion, circumstance, struggling, or happening, confidence in God's care sooner or later and definitely in the end punctuates the prayers: "I am confident I will see the Lord's goodness...Put your confidence in Him, and He will follow through with you."
Anyone who says God does not does not.
I think of people who say they do not hear God when they pray.
They remind me of my first two team-teaching professors of pastoral care - Lapsley and Hanson - who often said, "When in doubt, don't! When anything you say may get in the way, shut up!"
Catch the drift?
People who say they do not hear God when they pray need to listen more and talk less; or as my pastor explained prayer that's so purely illustrated by Psalms, "It's talking to God about what's on your mind and taking time to listen to what's on His mind."
Simply talking to God simply.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!