Dear God.

Dear God. I don’t know what to do. I am completely lost. So help me with this call.

That’s the prayer, written on a piece of paper in front of me. I’m guessing it is like many prayers written on many pieces of paper. It is like the prayers that I read when I flip through the book of Psalms, right in the middle of the Bible.

Psalm 69 starts:

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.

Psalm 70 starts:

Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, LORD, to help me.

Psalm 71 starts:

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.

Sometimes we read these psalms, these poems, these prayers, as things we ought to read, as part of a spiritual routine. Sometimes we read these psalms when we are together in a group, doing what we commonly call “church.” We stumble through the discomfort of reading out loud together. We listen for the phrasing of the person in front or the person by our side. We want to get the participation right.

I think that these psalms, some of them anyway, aren’t written to get the participation right. I think they aren’t about any oughtness.

The prayer written on the piece of paper I mentioned at the top? I wrote it. I didn’t write it out of oughtness or out of participation. I was thinking through a difficult situation. I was writing out notes for my conversations. And I didn’t know what to do. And I was completely lost. And I was counting on God reading over my shoulder.

He was.

7 thoughts on “Dear God.

  1. Frank Reed

    It’s hard to admit being lost and confused even to God in private. What’s truly cathartic though is admitting it to another human being. I have prayed that same type of prayer on many occasions in the recent past and it’s good to know that someone else has and is willing to share it.

    Thanks, Jon, this ‘exercise’ has helped me a lot. I pray that it did the same for you. I suppose there is no way it can’t when God is with you. Why do I forget that at times?


  2. Chris Marsden

    I remember one of the first sermons I had to preach in school. I paused before I started and prayed something to the effect of “Please God, help me say the right words”. Still find myself praying that prayer regularly.


    1. Jon Swanson

      I still do that too, sometimes mid conversation. Happened last night in a group discussion we were having. I was looking for the next step in the discussion. So while the rest of the guys were talking to each other, I was listening to God.


  3. Diane Brogan

    Thank you for sharing this intimate detail. I too have said this prayer, many times. I have just not seen it written until now. You have such a great way of opening my eyes.


  4. Keith Crawford

    It’s interesting the way you phrase our approach to Psalms. Our Pastor recently started leading us through a study of Psalms but looking at them as “Prayer Training Wheels”. His challenge is that many of us just are very good a prayer and he ecouraged us to literally pray the Psalms and it will lead to our own prayers taking flight.

    I think that fits so well with looking at these passages. Uttering the words of David as he was pursued and downtrodden.

    Thanks for the great post as always.


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