“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.
First published in 2011. Still true.