Wednesday 17 April

13Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.

This is a natural extension of verse 12. To show up for my life is to bring all of my life as an offering to God.

The Psalms are a model for the life of devotion. The Psalmist brings every aspect of his life to God in prayer and praise. When he feels miserable, angry, vengeful, jealous, he holds nothing back. He lays it all before God. When he finds thanksgiving and joy welling up in his heart he brings it to God. When he feels insecure, uncertain, frightened, and alone, he comes to God and pleads for help.

As long as my devotion contains no posturing or petty self-interest, there is nothing that is unacceptable to present at the altar. God desires to receive whatever comes from an honest and sincere heart. Richard Rohr calls God “the catcher’s mitt;” there is no ball too wild for God to receive.

To pray is to resist the temptation to hide or pretend. When I pray, I acknowledge the whole of my life. In prayer I refuse to pretend to a piety or a virtue I know I do not possess. Prayer is the opposite of hypocrisy which was Jesus’ most often attacked behaviour.

Does his active life of devotion change the circumstances about which the Psalmist prays? I do not know. But I am pretty sure it changed the Psalmist.

When I bring my resentments, anger, and envy to God, my heart opens and softens. When I come to God with thanks and praise, my heart warms and my awareness of God’s presence deepens. When I bring the concerns and fears of my life to God in prayer, I discover within myself a peace and strength that I lack when I keep all those anxieties churning over in my brain and never put them down.

To pray is to lay down everything and surrender to a power greater than my own needs and concerns. Whatever prayer may or may not accomplish in the external circumstances of my life, it always changes my heart. To pray is to ground myself in eternity, that place of strength and resilience for which I long.