Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Songs in The Night
Prayer begins with God’s Presence
10 But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth

    and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’ Job 35:10-11

            Over the last year or so God has really called me to be more vigilant in my prayer life. In this time prayer has become something of a passion for me. I have sought to gather some local pastors for weekly prayer together and I have strived to hold up prayer for both my family and my congregation. As a result of this direction of my personal piety it seems like my radar has become more sensitive to Bible verses that speak on the subject of prayer. So as I prepared my Job Bible study last week these verses from the books 35th chapter jumped off the page. With these words the young Elihu develops an understanding of prayer, even a theology of prayer that I would like to break down, saving songs in the night for last for reasons that will become clear.  

Where is God my Maker”- Prayer begins with God, not our wants or needs, but God and His presence. This can seen in the Lord’s Prayer as well. Jesus’ prayer did not begin with our daily bread, not even with God’s will, but with God, his presence and his nature, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name”  Our prayers don’t make God present, He is already present, our prayers seek, honor, and intentionally place ourselves in that presence. Much like the young child who reaches out and cries for a nearby parent whose presence pre-existed the cries for comfort.

who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’- More than any other conversation prayer changes us and challenges us to grow. As we spend time with God we learn more about Him and also about ourselves. It is in this context we find our petitions and intercessions always come with the greater petition “Thy will be done.” We find that the more we let God teach us the more we find ourselves seeking to align our will with His.

Who gives us songs in the night” This image hit me so hard I have chosen it as the title of my midweek Devotions, of which this is the first. The Night is a metaphor for suffering and struggle. To be given “songs in the night” means to be able to experience suffering and struggle with hope and even joy. As I pondered this I was reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippians being written from a cold prison cell, or Bonhoeffer and Walter Ciszek whose faithfulness to their calls led them to imprisonment and persecution. And also my mother who was able to face cancer and death with an amazing amount of faith and integrity. Who has sung for you songs in the night? Music in the face of pain that can only come from God. I have chosen this as the title of my midweek devotions because this desire to write more has come out of a deepening prayer life. So my prayer is that these words that find their way into your inbox hopefully weekly are not just my words, but they are words given me by God, like Elihu’s song in the night. Also although I don’t claim to suffer like many others, I know the all too common tendency to divorce God from the daily grind of vocational and family life. I write these words in the midst of that grind and I offer them to you as a sacred pause in the midst of that daily grind, to remind us that God is present giving us “songs in the night.” Let us pray.
            Ever-present God,
            Your faithfulness and unconditional love are amazing. Help us remember how amazing when we may want to forget. Teach us more about who you are and who you call us to be so we may sing your praises even when we may not want to. We pray all this in Christ’s holy name. Amen

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