Honest God Talking
Psalm 17: 1-7, 15
1 Hear me, Lord, my plea is just;
listen to my cry.
Hear my prayer—
it does not rise from deceitful lips.
2 Let my vindication come from you;
may your eyes see what is right.
3 Though you probe my heart,
though you examine me at night and test me,
you will find that I have planned no evil;
my mouth has not transgressed.
4 Though people tried to bribe me,
I have kept myself from the ways of the violent
through what your lips have commanded.
5 My steps have held to your paths;
my feet have not stumbled.
6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
15 As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
Today’s psalm, to my mind, is a bit of honest God talking. The kind of talking that happens when you decide to pray at the end of the day in bed. The question is: can grace bring about reconciliation?
You know what I mean. You can’t get to sleep because you have been misunderstood. You have been involved in yet another incident with a family member. The lights are out. Streetlights cast shadows on the walls and you run a conversation with God in silence in your head. You know you’re not perfect, you tell God that. But on this occasion your motives were completely pure. You ask God to look into your heart right now and see, on this occasion you were in the right. Then you ask yourself, “How did it all get so screwed up? Why is family life so difficult?”
So many people have these conversations with God. You know that family member who always takes the opposite view, who looks for the downside. There he was again snapping at your heels. Taking all the good out of what was planned. Everyone felt so uncomfortable and yet somehow he couldn’t read the situation. You say to God, “He has no self awareness, can you not do something about him?” And so you continue in prayer until you fall asleep. What you don’t know is that he is having the same conversation with God.
I think this psalm gives us permission to mouth off to God to tell God how we really feel and to get it out of our system. You might say things to God that you wouldn’t say to someone else but that’s all right, that is why God gives us prayer. It’s a gift of an opportunity to sort stuff out, but also to listen for his response, his understanding, of what was really going on. When we leave time for God to reply we often end up within a very different prayer conversation. We can find ourselves reconciled by grace.
Father of all
Thank you for my family
The kind ones
The struggling ones
Even the pretentious ones
Give me the grace
To love and cherish
Those who I can’t understand
And when I fail
Please help me to learn how to respond
In such a way that I can start all over again
Help me look through the windows of our home
May we be reconciled by grace.