Psalm 101

Here is my forever prayer:
I will sing of loyalty and of justice
To You, God, I will sing
Of Your loyalty and justice to me
I will study the way that is blameless
When shall I attain it?
I will walk with integrity of heart
Throughout my life
I will not set before my eyes anything that is base
I hate the times that I fall away
I will not let doubt cling to me
I will know nothing of evil
I will recognize when my thoughts turn against others
And I will pray those thoughts away
I will recognize my own pride and arrogance
My haughty attitude
And will pray that pride away
I will value faithfulness to You
And to my better strivings
And I will nurture those within me
I will seek the company of those who try themselves
To live in loyalty and justice
I will not lie, I will not deceive
I will banish lies and deceit from my life
Morning by morning, day by day, night by night
I will pray that You destroy my wickedness
That You deliver me from evil
That You make Your home in my heart. Amen

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Psalm 102

Hear my prayer, O my God, let my cry come to You
Don’t leave me, I beg You, in distress and despair
Listen to me, hear me, see my need, my desperate need
You know my darkness
The days when my hope drifts away like smoke
When my faith burns away in fiery doubt
When my love shrivels like dry grass
When my hunger for You disappears into anorexic torpor
My spirit groans, even my body aches
With the pain of abandonment, desertion
I am reduced to a small creature of desert wastelands
My peace has taken flight
I lie sleepless and discontent
Wondering why I cannot be better than my worst parts
“My days are like an evening shadow
I wither away like grass”
Wondering why You cannot make me better
You could, You know, if You wanted to
Do I have to remind You that You are God Almighty
I capitalize Your name and even Your pronouns
To remind myself
You are God forever, almighty forever, my Savior forever
You do not forget me, You do not ignore me
Though many are the times when I find that hard to believe
I am of Your people; You are my God
You are victorious, glorious
You do hear me, see me, love me
Let me record it here and now: God loves me, saves me
God knows me, hears me, frees me
So I will praise and worship God and God alone
Some days, I feel as old as the earth that You created
As alone as the stars that You made
I will die, but You endure
I will die, but I live forever in and through Your love
You are steadfast in love, enduring in faithfulness, eternal
And so I will be secure, I will be established in Your presence
I will be holy as You are holy
In the meantime, hear me and help me, O my God. Amen.

Psalm 103

Bless God, O my soul, and all that is in me
Bless God’s holy name
Bless God and make sure to remember
All that God does for me
God forgives me
God heals me
God redeems me
God crowns me with Her own steadfast love and mercy
God satisfies me with good all my life
God renews me
(And yet, and yet, so often
I feel unworthy
I feel sick
I feel abandoned
I feel unloved
I feel old and worn out
I feel, even, that my faith is but a delusion)
I return to the psalmist who tells me that
God brings vindication and justice to the oppressed
God’s people know God’s ways and acts
God is merciful and gracious
God is slow to anger
God is abounding in steadfast love
And I can claim all, all for myself
This is why the psalmist blesses God’s holy name
(This is what I sometimes do with my whole heart
And sometimes struggle to believe it even a little)
I go back again to the psalmist who tells me more
God will not accuse me
God will not be angry with me
God will not deal with me according to my worst
God will not exact vengeance for my doubts
God’s steadfast love, love for me
Is higher than the heavens
God’s forgetfulness and forgiveness of my worst
Encompasses my whole world
Separates me completely from my failings
(Really? Am I then still me?)

As a parent loves and knows the limits of a child
God loves me and knows my limits
(Though sometimes my fear is not fear of God
But fear that God does not exist)
Ah, but God knows, better than me
That I am but dust
(And you can’t expect too much from dust)
My days are like grass
Once I bloomed strong and bright like a flower
But the wind of my days blows ever faster
My flower droops
The psalmist says, so what
You may fail, but God’s steadfast love
Is from everlasting to everlasting
God’s righteousness is mine to claim
All the days of my life
While I try to keep God’s covenant
And love as God commands me to love
God is sovereign over all
So with saints and angels
Let me bless God
Let me be among those who do God’s bidding
Let me listen to – let me hear – God’s Word
Let me join God’s hosts, God’s ministers, God’s faithful
Let me join that great crowd of witnesses
Let me join the universe, God’s creation
(Oh, please, with the humble peace that passes feeble understanding)
Bless God, O my soul. Amen

Psalm 104

The psalmist blesses God, Creator of the world
The psalmist worships God by naming God’s creations
Extolling God’s achievements
God is honor and majesty and bright light
God created everything
Heavens and light, clouds and wind
Fire and flame
The strong foundations of the earth
The deep waters of the seas
The edges and boundaries
Mountains and valleys
Water to quench thirst
Branches to shelter birds
Grass and food plants
Wine “to gladden the human heart”
Oil and bread
Trees, the psalmist’s beloved cedars of Lebanon
The psalmist goes on and on
Reminding God of this incredible creation
Storks and goats and rabbits
The moon and the sun
Lions and their prey alike
How ecstatic is the psalmist
Verse after verse
Creation after creation
“In wisdom You have made them all”
Earth and sea
Creeping things and Leviathan
God gives and God takes away
Blessed be the name of God
God creates with God’s own spirit
God takes away breath, and we die
And return to dust
“May the glory of God endure forever”
May God rejoice in Her works
In wisdom, in glory
Yes, but, my mind whispers
The God of the cedars of Lebanon
Is also the God of the plagues of Egypt
The God of wondrous creation
Is also the God of famine and flood
Disease and disaster
Pain and suffering
The Creator of everything
Is also the Creator of me
My generous intelligence and my unruly emotions
My comforting faith and my persistent doubts
My supple joints and my easy bleeding
My grand aspirations and my foolish distractions
My gracious loves and my unreasonable hates
My gains and my losses
My companions and my aloneness
My children’s love and my children’s withdrawal
My achievements and my disappointments
How I want to praise God as the psalmist does
Without reservation, with easy joy
How I want to accept
Life and death, good and bad
Giving and withholding, revealing and hidden
God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, Lady Wisdom
The unknowable lover
The unreachable parent
The often forgotten ruler
How I want
To sing with the psalmist
To sing praise to God as long as I live
May my meditation be pleasing to You, my God
Let my sins, my doubts, my not-enoughs be consumed
Let my wickedness be no more
Let me shout with the psalmist
Bless God, O my soul
Praise God. Amen.

Psalm 105: Make Me Your Own

Let me start by giving thanks to God
By reminding myself of God’s greatness and power
Power used for my benefit
Let me quietly, silently sing a song of praise
Praise for God’s presence
In my life, in my heart
Let me glory in God, in naming God as my own
My own Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Lady Wisdom, as my own
Let my heart rejoice in God
I come back here again and again
Back to my psalms
Back to my prayers
Seeking God’s presence
Needing God’s strength
Reminding myself of God’s power
Power to save me
Here and now, and at the hour of my death
And for eternity
Power for God’s chosen people
Descendants of Abraham and Sarah
And I am one of them
Lady Wisdom, make me Your own
God is powerful and faithful
God is righteous and just
God of Sarah, Hagar and Abraham
God of Rebekah and Isaac
God of Leah and Rachael and Jacob
God of the great crowd of witnesses
Welcome me, please, among them
Choose me, pick me, protect me
Make me Your own
Keep my demons from defeating me
Keep my distractions from ruling me
Make me Your own
As You sent Joseph first into Egypt
Though as a slave
As You sent Esther to the king
Though she did not want to go
As You made Joseph strong and sure
Honored and safe
As You made Esther queen and savior
Make me Your own
Free me from the bondage of my will
Strengthen me to do the good I want to do
To help those who need help
Free me from own preoccupations
So that I can better do what is needed
Make me Your own
As Joseph fell and rose and served
As Israel came first to Egypt to be nourished
Then stayed as slaves
As Ruth came first to Bethlehem as a beggar
Then became a loved wife and mother
I rise and fall in my faith
I find success and pleasure and pride
Only to fall again into darkness and depression
Despair and doubt
As You sent Moses and Aaron and Miriam
To rescue Your people in Egypt
Rescue me
Make me Your own
I know I rebel, I know I doubt, I know I despair
Help me to know that I am Yours
Not as one purchased with silver and gold, but as Your child
Guide me through my desert times
Feed my hunger, quench my thirst
With Your everlasting waters
Help me to remember Your promise
Your faithfulness, Your loving kindness
Make me Your own
Bring me into Your peace
Give me the only wealth I crave
The wealth of knowledge of You, sureness of You
That I might sing with joy
That I might live as You would have me live
That I might praise You
As You made the daughters and sons of Israel Your own
Make me Your own. Amen