Thursday, February 12, 2015

Week of February 8, 2015

We've talked a lot about prayer lately.  There's a purpose, of course.  You've probably heard talk around here about a shift that's coming and our being on the cusp of a new way forward here at New Kirk Presbyterian.  There will be more of this talk as we approach the beginning of the Lenten Season with our Ash Wednesday service next week.  Not to spoil anything, but suffice it to say that prayer will be at the core of who we are and what we do henceforth.

Prayer, as mentioned in earlier posts, isn't always easy.  Today, I offer a Psalm.  The Psalmist in Psalm 105 provides us with a prayer map or formula.  As with all such provisions in Scripture, we must remember the flesh behind these recordings.  None of this is dogma.  Rather, it's more of a wisdom nugget from a saintly mentor.

Psalm 105.1-4
Give thanks to the LORD;
  call upon his name;
  make his deeds known
  to all people!
Sing to God;
  sing praises to the Lord;
  dwell on his wondrous works!
Give praise to God's holy name!
  Let the hearts rejoice of all those
    seeking the LORD!
Pursue the LORD and his strength;
  seek his face always!

The movement of these verses seems intentional.  If it is, then we may draw our prayer map from this saint.

1.  Give thanks to "the LORD" (Hebrew: YHWH, God's actual name)
2.  Call upon his name
3.  Make his deeds known

Watch the interplay between the actual name of God (YHWH, written "the LORD") and the general acknowledgement of God (Hebrew: Elohim, translated "the gods").  Also, watch my numbering:

3.  Sing praises to God (Elohim), sing praises to the Lord (him), dwell on his wondrous works!
2.  Sing praises to God's (Elohim) holy name!  Rejoice seekers!
1.  Pursue the LORD (YHWH) and his strength; seek his face always!

If you've participated in Larry's Sunday School class lately, then you understand what's in a name for the Hebrew people.  Look up the meanings of the names of the OT's most outstanding characters and, suddenly, the stories will come alive even more.  The name of God is THE WAY of God.  To know one's particular name, to the Hebrews, was to have intimate knowledge and understanding of that one.

So, I like to think of all this contemplatively.  The hardest hurdle to hop in prayer is the mind.  Specifically, it's the ego (our name - character, way) and the ego's relentless effort to preserve itself at all costs.  This prayer map, then, gives the ego a task to complete (and God knows how hard ego tries for success).

The next time you pray, put the ego on this loop:

3a.  What do "I" observe of a god in the world?
2a.  What kind of god do "I" think this is?
1a.  YHWH is God.

now, if

1b.  YHWH is God,
2b.  What kind of God is YHWH?
3b.  What do "I" observe of YHWH in the world?

(Begin again at 3a.)

With the mind/ego/"I"/"me"/"my" busy walking through this loop, let the bigger part listen for YHWH to reveal himself.  This is the pursuit of YHWH; this is seeking YHWH's face!  Joy is YHWH's reflection in us.

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