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praying our humanity

July 8, 2011
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As John mentioned in an earlier post, it is our summer practice at Grace Seattle to learn how to pray by looking at the Psalms. This Sunday, we will begin by learning how to pray our humanity as demonstrated in Psalm 9.

David, like us, lived in a world filled with personal and global evil. Experiencing evil is often debilitating and it is all we can do just to survive. We can’t escape it. It is all around, pressing down on our hearts and our minds. Nonetheless, we are taught to pray against evil, however difficult or draining.

David ends his prayer with these words: Let the nations know they are but men because evil is hindered, even stopped, when human beings take up their proper place as creators of the Creator. Walter Brueggemann writes, “The ones criticized (in this psalm) are only human. They have therefore no right to dominate social relations. The prayer is that the threatening ones would be returned to their proper, modest social position, for they have forgotten that position and have claimed for themselves power, authority, privilege, and preeminence that never legitimately belong to human persons.”

Evil is hindered, even stopped, when humans understand they are only human.

Praying out humanity is not just something we do with others in view.  There is much to be gained by understanding and embracing our own humanity. In reflecting on this, I came across a prayer found in The Valley of Vision entitled The Infinite and the Finite. I included a modified version of it below.  

You are the Great I AM,

Fill our mind with wonder as we consider a Being

with whom one day is thousand years,

and a thousand years as one day.

A mighty God who amidst a broken world,

and the rising and falling of empires,

does not change

but is glorious in immortality.

May we rejoice that, while we die, the Lord lives;

that while all creatures are broken reeds,

empty cisterns

fading flowers

withering grass,

he is the rock of ages, the fountain of living waters.

Let us remember our days, that our life is short and unforeseen,

and is an opportunity for love and faithfulness.

While we live, give us a desire to feed the hungry

clothe the naked,

visit the lonely,

forgive the offender,

live the Gospel,

and show neighborly love to all.

You are the Creator and we are your creatures.

May we live a life of dependence,

crucifixion,

prayer.

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