The portion of the Psalter appointed for the daily celebration of Holy Eucharist today is Psalm 19:7-14. The verse that caught my ear and my imagination was the last verse. The words may be familiar as they are sometimes used by preachers to start sermons:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
There is a quality about these words that sums up what I think we believe the words of prayer to be all about. To paraphrase, “God, let me say and believe in my heart those things that you would feel are right and good because you are the one to whom I turn and who saves me.”
I would venture, however, that we don’t often approach our prayers to God with these words as the construct for our conversations with God. Think of your best friend…the person with whom you have shared almost all of your deepest concerns, fears, doubts and joys. Think of the way that you speak with that person. Is that how you speak with God?
One of the beauties of being in true and deep relationship with someone is that you don’t have to necessarily please the person when you talk with him or her. You can be yourself. But I’ll take that a step further: when you talk to your best friend, you don’t really have to worry all that much, usually, that you two won’t be friends by the end of the conversation.
What would happen in our prayer lives–our conversations with the God who knows us through and through (well, because after all, God MADE EACH OF US)–if we approached our prayers as if we were talking with our best friend? What would that conversation sound like? Would the tone we use be different? Would the word selection or syntax change? What about the content? Would we feel free to let go and even yell at God now and again? On the other end of the spectrum would we joyfully admit our exuberance and delight about things happening in our lives if we spoke to God more like how we talk with our best friend? Guess what–God knows us through and through…with all of our faults and foibles, warts and all, and God loves us ANYWAY.
No, God is not your best friend. God is the creator of the world, the universe, EVERYTHING. Sure, there is a certain inherent gravitas that comes with knowing that you are having a conversation with God. But what God wants aren’t words that you think God wants to hear but the words that are on your heart, the things that trouble your soul and everything in between.