Old Testament: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13
Morning Psalms: Psalms 22, 95
New Testament: Romans 11:13-24
Gospel: John 11:1-27, 12:1-10
Evening Psalms: Psalms 141, 143
“God, come close. Come quickly!
Open your ears -- it’s my voice you’re hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
my raised hands are my evening prayers.”
(Psalm 141:1-2; The Message)
These are the words of David to God. I think David is imploring God to turn his prayers into something more than just his own words, to make them special -- sweetly wafting up for God to hear.
Many times, I send up quick thoughts as I’m driving, in between projects at work or running to another activity – “Keep them safe, Lord.” “Beautiful sunset, thanks!”
Sometimes silence is perfect, like when I’m walking the labyrinth at Shrinemont on a crisp, breezy, peaceful afternoon.
During tough times in my life, such as illness or the death of a loved one, my words, my conversations with God, have been nothing at all like sweet incense. I think temper tantrum, whining, and impatient demands would better describe what went on.
There have even been times, such as the death and funerals of my parents, when I didn’t have any words at all.
And I am so grateful for the authors who write, musicians who compose and write music, and the artists who paint, sculpt and much more. The gifts they create touch my heart and mind like nothing else and help me to express myself in ways that involve more than just words.
So, even when I’m not confident that my prayers will be as sweet as incense rising, I think God hears me. God is listening and understands whether my words are short, or impatient, or when I don’t have any words at all, or when I’m reading a prayer or praising in song. He understands and takes whatever I can give.