Hear our prayer, O Lord!

Psalm 102:1-17

“Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
I am too wasted to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my skin.
I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.
I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread,
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.”   NRSV

I have prayed this Psalm many times in my daily prayers. Every time I am stopped in the same place,

“I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.
I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.”

Who hasn’t stopped to listen to the song of a solitary songbird singing from a rooftop? It is a daily experience for me. When I hear the song of the solitary songbird perched on my rooftop it is pure gift, a delight, it gives my soul a moment’s peace. It is an experience to look forward to every day.

For the Psalmist, the solitary songbird, singing its song from the rooftop, carries a different message. The Psalmist is scared, alone, his life threatened. He is in desperate need of God. He cries out to God from the rooftop, from the highest place, to give his voice the longest carry, but there is no response. The Psalmist wails his song of lament, but it apparently falls on deaf ears. God’s comforting presence, God’s helping hand nowhere to be found. The deafening silence around him only increases his isolation, loneliness, and fears. He must face his trials and tribulations, alone.

My hunch is there have been moments the past couple of months when we walked in the Psalmist’s shoes, felt the sting of social isolation, tried our best to stare down our fears without the assurance of God’s help, and sang our own songs of lament in the hope that God would hear…and answer.

This is the timeless beauty and power of praying the Psalms. They capture the human condition of every age.

If we are going to sing the Psalmists lament with him let us also sing with confidence the other verses with him,

“But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.”

Maybe these are the verses we hear the songbirds on our rooftops singing. A daily reminder that God “will regard” our prayers.

Be a blessing to someone today!

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