Re the Daily Office Readings: The Psalms appointed

Praying in the middle of the COVID 19 pandemic is hard. The psalms assigned to the 11th day of the month in the Book of Common Prayer Psalter, Psalms 56-61, are curiously comforting, reminding me that praying was no less hard for the psalmist. For example,

Whenever I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust and will not be afraid,
for what can flesh do to me? (56:3-4)

“Will not be afraid”—perhaps prayed in desperation, and repeated in v.10.

Do you indeed decree righteousness, you rulers?
do you judge the peoples with equity?
No; you devise evil in your hearts,
and your hands deal out violence in the land. (58:1-2)

Dealing with a constant barrage of spin, propaganda, and deceit is nothing new.

They go to and fro in the evening;
they snarl like dogs and run about the city. (59:7)

But the vivid images bring no sort of catharsis. The last two verses of the psalm:

Let everyone know that God rules in Jacob,
and to the ends of the earth.
They go to and fro in the evening;
they snarl like dogs and run about the city. (59:15-16)

At present everyone certainly does not know that. Too much snarling and running, which in the psalm gets the last word. But God’s rule is the future for which the psalmist struggles to hope, struggles to pray into being.

Praying is hard work. But abandoning oneself and one’s world to the current realities: even harder.

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