On Faith: Keep a cell line open for GodI chuckled when I saw it. An iPhone application for personal prayer that enables the user to send a text message to God. Where do such messages end up, I wondered. Perhaps, I thought, in cyberspace where trillions of messages are stored?
By: The Rev. Fr. Michael Holy Spirit Church Two Harbors, St. Mary’s Church Silver Bay, Lake County News Chronicle
I chuckled when I saw it. An iPhone application for personal prayer that enables the user to send a text message to God. Where do such messages end up, I wondered. Perhaps, I thought, in cyberspace where trillions of messages are stored?
Or, perhaps the angels snatch them from the ether and pass them on. While I was amused at the thought I was also delighted that, even in a busy world of electronic messaging, technology helps make prayer happen.
In a world that is hyperactive and information saturated, it’s becoming more and more important that we seek wisdom in God’s Word. It’s equally important that we refresh our energies by centering ourselves in God’s presence at various times during the day. Moments of prayer help idle the engine down with considerable benefits to our well-being and health.
We know that Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer. Indeed, His was a life of living prayer. In the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, there are no fewer than 50 occasions when Jesus prayed or instructed his disciples about how to pray. Scripture tells us that He often withdrew to places of solitude for long periods of prayer.
No doubt during such times Jesus turned to the psalms for inspiration and support. Many, if not all of the psalms,
He would have known by heart. The psalms were an important part of Synagogue worship and household prayer. They echoed the history of the Jewish people and gave voice to their various emotions as they waited for the Messiah.
It’s not surprising then that since the coming of the Messiah, the psalms have also played a central role in the devotional prayer and worship of many Christian communities, especially monasteries. I know of a monastery where the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours has been recited or sung for more than 1,000 years.
As a priest I am obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. Indeed, I very much enjoy the respite and insights they provide. The psalms I find are like bottomless pools that I can tirelessly and fruitfully troll.
Ancient Irish monks spoke of the psalms as the three 50s. The first 50 psalms speak of the state of penitence among God’s people.
The second 50, ending with Psalm 100, concern justice and judgment. The third emphasizes the praise of God’s eternal glory and so it ends with “Let every spirit praise the Lord!” Woven into these are other themes that vary from heartfelt contrition to unshakeable trust in God’s mercy. From sorrow to deep joy the psalms leave no heart unmoved.
Reading Psalm 139 the other day, I was struck again by some encouraging words for those moments when I find it difficult to pray: “Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, you know it altogether.” Indeed, the rest of the psalm, a favorite of mine, says that God is with me everywhere and at every moment of my day. God’s abiding presence provides the grace that sustains me in my endeavors.
Certainly a good reason to pray the psalms is that Jesus prayed them. Another is that the psalms are prayed by Christians everywhere in the world at some time every day. So if you enjoy the luxury of a smart phone or iPod, download the psalms and you’ll be in good company no matter when or wherever you pray them. Praise the Lord.
Father Michael Lyons is pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Two Harbors and St. Mary’s Church in Silver Bay.