Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Biblical Prayer Themes, Part II

[continued from Biblical Prayer Themes, Part I]
4. Longing and yearning. In its advancing stages the pursuit of God includes a hungering and thirsting for him as though we were a parched desert in need of a soaking rain, or as a doe longs for the running waters of a stream (Ps 63:1; 42:1-2). At times in life we need quietly and patiently to wait for the Lord, who will fill us in due time (Ps 37:7, 40:1). The psalmist seeks to understand better, to celebrate, to love, and to observe the precepts and plans of the Lord (Ps 119:1-176).

5. Prayerful suffering. Since all of us suffer in one way or another, and in diverse degrees, it is not surprising that the biblical word would teach us how to bear our crosses in life and how to use them to come to a closer communion with the indwelling Trinity. Jesus, of course, leads the way: in the midst of his agony in the garden of olives he shares with the Father his inner pains and expresses his desire that the divine will be done (Mt 26:39). We, too, express our heartaches to this same loving Father and unload our burdens before him (Ps 55:4-5, 16-17, 22; 62:8). We may even cry out in our pains and sufferings (Ps 22; 23:4-6; 27:7).

6. Sorrowing for sin. There is need in any honest heart to join David and the publican in begging pardon of the all-holy God, for we are sinners (many psalms; Lk 18:13). The first step in obtaining forgiveness is to confess humbly that we have sinned. Then we renounce the sin, express sorrow, and return to the Father, firmly resolved to profit from our experience and to be deeply converted (Ps 32:1-5; 51; Lk 15:11-24). Since serious sin wounds the sinner profoundly and issues in bitter guilt, he wisely returns to the only one who can heal him fully and he seeks relief from the divine forgiving love (Ps 38:1-10, 17-18, 21-22).
Prayer Primer, Thomas Dubay, S.M.
[Varieties of biblical prayer themes to be continued...]

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