The Word of Jesus on Prayer

They ought always to pray.

— St. Mark. 18:1

He that is made in the image of God must know him or be desolate: the child must have the Father! Witness the dissatisfaction of my soul without him! It cannot act from itself, save in God; acting from what seems itself without God, is a mere yielding to impulse. Instincts of betterment tell me I must rise above my present self—perhaps even above all my possible selves: I see not how to obey, how to carry them out! Surely this world of my unwilled, unchosen, compelled existence, cannot be shut out from him, cannot be unknown to him, unpresent to him from whom I am! Nay, is it not his thinking in which I think? Whatever passes in me must be as naturally known to him as to me. My thought must lie open to him: if he makes me think, how can I elude him in thinking? “If I should spread my wings toward the dawn, and sojourn at the last of the sea, even there thy hand would lead me, and thy right hand would hold me!” If I speak to him, if I utter words ever so low; if I but think words to him, nay, if I only think to him, surely he hears, and knows, and acknowledges! Then shall I not think to him? Shall I not tell him my troubles—how he, even he, has troubled me by making me? How unfit I am to be that which I am? That my being is not to me a good thing yet? Shall I not tell him that I need him to comfort me? Shall I not cry to him to be in me rest and strength? Every need of God, lifting up the heart, is a seeking of God, is a begging for himself, is profoundest prayer, and the root and inspirer of all other prayer. 


Psalm 139: A Rhyming Metrical Paraphrase
by Jess Lederman

It's no accident that George MacDonald quoted from the ninth and tenth verses of Psalm 139 in the entry above; the theme of sermon and Psalm have much in common. Below I present a rhyming metrical paraphrase of Psalm 139. There's also a musical score in the form of a slow blues, with a killer bass line, but that can wait for another day; meanwhile, imagine B.B. King singing, and adding some blistering solos after the third, sixth, and ninth stanzas, to glorify the Lord.

                                                 Psalm 139

O Lord you know my thoughts, you know my ways,
You've searched the hidden places of my heart;
You know the words that I'm about to say,
You know my journey's end before I start.

You surround me, lay your hand upon me,
A stranger to myself in a strange land;
This way you know me, it's far beyond me,
Too wonderful for me to understand!

Yet still might I flee from you -- but to where?
Impossible; you know me all too well;
If I ascend to heaven, you are there,
You'd find me even in the depths of hell.

If I cross the sea, borne on morning's wing,
Even at earth's end will your hand guide me;
Your strong right hand, of which the poets sing,
From my enemies will surely hide me.

I cloak myself in black and steal away,
I try in vain to hide in folds of night;
And still you see me clearly, plain as day,
For you, Lord, darkness is the same as light.

All things about me are to you revealed,
You formed me, knit me in my mother’s womb;
I praise you Lord, you who have surely sealed
My destiny from birth until the tomb.

How precious to me are your thoughts O God,
They number more than waves upon the sea;
In evil dreams I seek your staff and rod,
And when I wake you are still here with me.

O that your justice would at least prevail,
The evil bow to you on bended knees;
I fight your adversaries tooth and nail,
I hate them, count them as my enemies.

O search me, search me God and know my heart,
Test me, try me each and every day;
Let all the wicked thoughts from me depart,
And lead me in the everlasting way.