Two psalms linger in my heart long after the morning prayers: one asking God to remember and one trusting in His provision.
Psalm 9 reminds me of the long memory of the Lord. The Creator and Judge of the world hears and remembers the cry of the oppressed.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. (Psalm 9:18)
Then in 147, the psalmist juxtaposes the image of the Lord numbering and naming each star alongside the image of the Lord gathering the brokenhearted and satisfying their desire.
As I enter the morning traffic, I hear these ancient songs continuing to plead before the Lord. Over millennia after these prayers were composed and uttered during the worship of God’s people, the cry still ascends. The prayers echo in the hearts and mouths of people from age to age and across the families and languages of the world.
I am haunted by voices I cannot hear and the faces of those I cannot see who suffer in the dark, outside the public eye both in my community and in our world. Recent headlines remind us that people suffer abuse and fear at all levels of society. Cries of desperation or moans of anguish lift up from the crumbling neighborhoods and the gated subdivisions.
As my imagination lingers over the prayer of remembrance, I see the enslaved, the lonely, the hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned. I think of the aging waitress who works long days with little to show for her efforts. I also hear afresh Richard Wurmbrand’s description of political prisoners who suffer extreme cold and extreme heat and often work themselves to death. I know there are untold numbers of people held in prisons unjustly, suffering, forgotten, and dying alone.
The Psalmist proclaims that the Lord hears these cries. The Lord hears and remembers. The same Creator who spoke every star into being knows each of these dear ones intimately, and he will not abandon them. He remembers and will gather them unto himself. He will satisfy their needs.
As I think about His faithfulness, I am aware of my lack, my unfaithfulness. How does this pray take shape in my hands? Once again, I think about how these ancient prayers come to life in each age, in each person, in each act. How the move toward justice in the people of God has grown out of prayer and not in opposition to prayer.
May my actions carry this prayer for the oppressed into this world of hurt. May I live toward the hope of His redeeming purpose in this world with ears to listen to the stories of downtrodden, eyes ready to behold the forsaken, hands offered to serve and give to the weak and worn-down, and feet walking into the injustices of this world with peace, goodness, and mercy.
I join my voice and heart with this cry from the Daily Prayers:
as you know each star you have created,
so you know the secrets of every heart;
in your loving mercy bring to your table
all who are fearful and broken,
all who are wounded and needy,
that our hungers may be satisfied
in the city of your peace;
through Christ who is our peace.
Image by Neil Moralee (used by permission via Creative Commons).