I cry aloud to the Lord;
I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.
Reflection: Prayer From the Cave
By John Tillman
Watching a skilled athlete, chef, or performer may be entertainment for the masses but can be a master class for the observant. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
When we read the Psalms, we observe masters at prayer. If we read with more than a passing glance we can see their technique well enough to improve our own. Like someone analyzing the handgrip of a pinch-hitter may improve his own swing, we can analyze how tightly the psalmist grips the hand of God and do likewise. Like someone noticing the way a champion tennis player shifts her feet in the instant before the serve may adjust his own return technique, we can detect the psalmist’s shift from self-focused complaining to kingdom minded proclamation and train our hearts to move in a new way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his commentary on Psalm 142 notes the importance of being instructed in prayer in this manner:
“This maschil is written for our instruction. It teaches us principally by example how to order our prayer in times of distress. Such instruction is among the most needful, practical, and effectual parts of our spiritual education. He who has learned how to pray has been taught the most useful of the arts and sciences. The disciples said unto the Son of David, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ and here David gives us a valuable lesson by recording his own experience as to supplication from beneath a cloud.”
We have but to watch and read the Psalms with careful observation and our own prayers may be approached with new energy, new attitudes, and new aptitudes.
Prayer does not come easier in dark times, but we may feel it does since we more quickly and easily turn to it in distress. Spurgeon also notes that caves, such as the one this psalm is written from, make excellent places to pray:
“Caves make good closets for prayer; their gloom and solitude are helpful to the exercise of devotion. Had David prayed as much in his palace as he did in his cave, he might never have fallen into the act which brought such misery upon his later days.”
May we pray in our caves.
May we pray in our palaces.
May we pray in our soul cages, and pray for those in physical cages.
May we not allow any earthly light to keep us from seeking an inner, humble cave to pray in.
Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
“Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up,” says the Lord, “And give them the help they long for.” — Psalm 12.5
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Joshua 10 (Listen – 7:23)
Psalm 142-143 (Listen – 2:35)
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