The Psalter of Jesus: The Despair of Prayer // Psalm 88

What we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.
— George Eliot

Interaction with God is not defined by principles and formulas. God is a personal being. Therefore, in prayer, we do not have a means for obtaining clarity from God, but rather an avenue for expressing relationship with him. This is troubling to us. We would prefer that in our prayers God meet us with clear explanations about why certain events are happening in our lives or about how best to navigate through them. What he most often meets us with instead is silence. God listens to our prayers. He hears us. But the language of his answers is a mysterious tongue from a far-off country inaudible to the natural ear. We must learn to hear him. And the discomfort and discipline required for that process tempts us to abandon personal relationship for mechanistic principles. It is so much easier to receive God as a list of decrees than it is to engage him as friend and Father. It is so much more comfortable to explain theology than it is to know this untamed God.


CALL TO WORSHIP

People of God, enter into this space of rest and relief.
Though you are overwhelmed by the constant requirements of this life, Our God is here.
Our souls are full of troubles, be near to us, O Lord.

Though you are shunned by those you care deeply about, or by those who don’t know enough about you to even know who you are, our God knows us.
Our souls are full of troubles, be near to us, O Lord.

Though you feel trapped by your lack of ability, your lack of time, or your lack of energy, our God sustains us.
Our souls are full of troubles, be near to us, O Lord.

Though our strength flees us at the end of the day, when we are too weary to pray, and all we can do is sink deeper into our beds, our God holds us.
Our souls are full of troubles, be near to us, O Lord.

People of God, enter into this space of rest and relief. Come and be filled.
Our souls are full of troubles, be near to us, O Lord, Amen.

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People of God, in this space of rest and relief, God does not offer you deliverance from your trials, but rather, a meal to be eaten together. Yet, we would not have it.
Forgive us Lord; incline Your ear to our cry.

Our lives are only a passing shimmer of a speck of dust in a sunbeam. We want God to give our time significance—he offers us this meal to be shared. Yet, we would not have it.
Forgive us Lord; incline Your ear to our cry.

This life for us is a too-dusty hole. Our throats are parched by the dry decay around us. We seek relief from this bitter isolation; God gives us this table to gather around. Yet, we would not have it.
Forgive us Lord; incline Your ear to our cry.

Why are you hidden from us God? Why do you veil yourself in wheat and grape? Why must we be confronted by the vain meaninglessness of this life?

Our stone-cold hearts long to thaw; You have given us a meal to eat. Yet, we shun it for something that would stir our hearts more regularly.
Forgive us Lord; incline Your ear to our cry.

Your wrath lies heavy on us God! We struggle day by day to be faithful, to be near to you. In the bottom of our hearts we want to be close to you. Why do you make it so hard?

Our companions shun us for more entertaining endeavors. We look to you to give us company, and you give us the table, yet you have returned to heaven. We are not satisfied. We long for something to touch, hold, and feel.
Forgive us Lord; incline Your ear to our cry.

Lord, grant us peace. Help us to see the beautiful mundane. Let these elements preach to us the gospel in bread and wine. Show us Jesus here.
Lord, we are weak and weary. Forgive our mistrust. Show us Jesus here.

- authored by David MacKay