Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


The Life of a Prayerful Person: During the Return of Shalom

posted by xscot mcknight

This finishes our series on the “life of a prayerful person,” which puts together the season the prayerful goes through in the Book of Psalms. We can begin with Shalom, experience utter confusion, only to turn the corner to watch Shalom return home again.
Sometimes our confusion makes its way back to Shalom and we tell God that, too.
Prayer is sometimes nothing more than what Jacob did with God: a wrestling match. God is game, the Psalms tell us, so enter the ring. My favorite prayer that wrestles for Shalom is Psalm 77. This psalm never gets to the resolution, but it points the way, and I have often thought this Psalm perfect for those bereaving death or separation.
In brief, Asaph (the poet of this psalm) speaks of his “day of trouble” and of his inability to find any sleep at night. So he turns to prayer and that doesn’t work either: “I think of God, and I moan.” He questions God’s goodness and asks if God has failed to remember his covenant with his people: “Has God forgotten to be gracious?”
Then the content changes: instead of moaning, Asaph begins to recount – before God – what God has done in the past. And he gently trots through a number of things God has done that showed that God was faithful and a deliverer of his people. God, he informs God, created, and God opened the water for Israel’s liberation.
And it ends right there. I believe Asaph is taunting God with this thought: “If you, O Lord, liberated in the past, what are you doing now?”
Sometimes we get no further than where Asaph stopped: wondering if God is gracious. We may end there some days because it would be dishonest and pretence to think life is any better than it really is. For Asaph, night is upon him and it brings no relief from his “day of trouble.” God has delivered, he tells God, but will God do it again? That is the question.
Sometimes Shalom returns.
Anyone who reads or recites the Psalms knows that the so-called first two books within the Psalms (1—72) are filled with complaints by David. In fact, sometimes David seems to be complaining too much (but then I admit I was never King of Israel!). But David also knew the other side of complaint.
The last section of Psalm 30 reads:
To you, O LORD, I cried,
and to the LORD I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me!
O LORD, be my helper!”
You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
Here David knows that his complaint has been heard. Where he once mourned, he now dances; he once wore sackcloth but now he dresses up in joy. He finishes it off as he should: ‘I will give thanks to you forever.” Until the next time he finds himself again in trouble with his enemies — this is how life is lived for the prayerful person in Psalms.
One never reaches a state where confusion is eliminated, where everything is smiley faces, where everything is always Shalom. Life is like this, so prayer should be too.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Stacey Littlefield

posted September 13, 2005 at 10:05 am


Scot, I’ve been short on posts for this series, but it has meant a lot to me personally. Thank you.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.