December 21, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XLIV: Praying Scripture

This is my last post for Spiritual Disciplines. Somehow it got lost in the Christmas shuffle during the last few weeks of studying, sermon prep and general all-encompassing mayhem and chaos. Allowing for the Scripture to pray for me is commonsense. I know that if I have the same faith of those that wrote the Scripture I have a high probability of getting similar responses. Then again, I may get absolutely no response too. I know that I should at least pray in a manner similar to Jesus as I was told that “...and when you pray” (Matthew 6:7). It is assumed that I would. Patterns laid out in Scripture are good templates and we can learn from them.

Psalm 51, a prayer of repentance, prayers similar to Jobs, Jesus’ prayers to the Father before His crucifixion. You think you got it hard? Think of David's pain from his own sin. Jobs affliction through little fault of His own. The Son of God about to take on the sins of the world, after a scourging that would bring Him within inches of death...and then being forcefully pinned to a tree...

Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

If it be Your will...

Praying Scripture helped me hold my own during the death of my father and the ensuing days and weeks afterwards. They helped me piece back together the frayed ends of sanity so to speak when the mental torment of a prolonged drawn out dying takes its toll over months. After the hell of losing a parent over a grueling macabre endurance session of slow death (Stop smoking people! Your death will be extremely painful and suffocate to death over the period of days, weeks and years).

I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind to do anything but lament the loss. In the end I prayed the Lord would take my father as I could no longer endure watching him suffer. This is where prayer from Scripture is pivotal to spiritual health and mental health. I had enough sense in the numb state that a death sends you through to look to God’s word. I pulled up to the misery depot and parked in the lament Psalms, Job, Lamentations and the Crucifixion portion of the Gospels and stayed there for a long time. There is strength in praying from Scripture (and suffering of others) and during a time of dying it is when a person truly needs to draw on all options open to them.

Dying really stinketh with a capital "S" (and that ain't the "s" word I wanted to use either).

Especially when it is someone close to you going excruciatingly slow. You get through it any sane way possible. When you have the spouse (my mother) of the deceased that needs your help also, the burden doubles. I prayed for the burden(s) to be lifted because at times I felt I was in the bottom of a hole and any attempt to extricate myself from the hole only served to dig it deeper. If I had not had the option of praying Scripture to God I would've started cursing Him...I ain't Job.

The first rule of holes is: When you are already in one, stop digging. The Bible was the only thing that could help reconcile the loss and help to come to grips with the pain and suffering. It is the only thing that offers hope. In similar situations many turn to pharmaceuticals and alcohol to dull the pain. As a Christian I view this as a “non” answer, only another trap to ensnare the believer into another psychological maze of no-return. 

Sometimes life gets you to a point where you have nothing to say so instead of saying something behooves us to go to His word so we have something productive to say. The Scripture helped me through more hell(s) than this but the loss of my father was the most recent. It will see me through others also. It will see me through until the end.

It will see you through too.

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