Monday, June 19, 2017

Howling Prayers

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13: 1-2.

I discovered this morning that this Psalm has been referred to as the Howling Psalm. It likens itself to that of a lonely and longing wolf, lifting his cry as it echoes across the landscape. Howling is a communication device used by wolves to connect with the rest of the pack over long distances. Quite a powerful image of David’s response to his predicament. ‘David howls his plea for deliverance. He feels far from God. He feels forgotten; even worse, he feels as if God is hiding from him. He is stricken with anxiety and his enemy seems to have the upper hand.’ Steadfast Love, Lauren Chandler, p. 41.

How many of us can relate to this when dealing with our own set of present circumstances? We know in our hearts what we want to happen, and the days drag by and by with life seemingly standing still. The ‘nothingness of action’ reminds us that God has not moved in our situations, or perhaps tempts us to believe that God is not listening. We ask ourselves ‘How long?’ How long will it be before a job is offered? How long will I walk in my grief unable to move forward? How long will it be before I find my partner or become pregnant with my child? How long must I sit in this wait? How long? How long? Howling prayers…howling hearts…just wanting to connect… feeling so far away from a resolution. ‘We have all known loneliness and longing. God sees us. He hears us. The Lord welcomes our lamenting. Lamenting is a deep response to real pain in our current condition, and longing for restoration…we cry out to the Lord to make good on His promise to us. It’s a vertical act. We point our faces up like a howling wolf and lift our voices to the only One who is able to deliver us.’ Steadfast Love, 42.

God will never desert us in our time of need. The Bible echoes God's promises right back to our howling prayers and turns them into goodness and mercy in the wait. But we must be willing to give Him our time and hearts for Him to minister to our greatest needs.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:19-24.

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