What can I do at those moments, those periods, in life when it feels impossible to pray—when what I really want to do is cuss out loud, to no one in particular?
Yesterday I pointed out how I learned that when I couldn’t come up with language to express how I really felt, I allowed the Psalms to pray for me.
I remember one night driving home by myself from an event at our parish years ago, where a presenter had quoted the famous Dag Hammarskjöld quote,
“For all that has been, Thank you. For all that is to come, Yes!”
Except I didn’t feel very much like saying thank you—let alone saying yes! Instead, all the way home I practiced saying “thank you” out loud in different voices, each one reflecting all the feelings I could muster—sarcastic, upset, serious, angry yelling, upset crying, annoyed, confused, frightened, hurt… I just kept yelling the words “thank you” out loud with every possible feeling--to no one in particular, until I made myself laugh out loud at my interesting attempt at “prayer.”
At home, I sat on the bed crossed legged and opened the Bible to the Psalms once again, this time, looking for something, anything that could convey my barrage of feelings. And I came upon Psalm 13:
How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me?How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I carry sorrow in my soul,grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God!Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death, Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed,”lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.
How long… finally! It was as if I could breathe deeply again. Even King David felt forgotten and alone like me! And then I kept reading:
But I trust in your unfailing love.my heart rejoices in your salvation,I will sing to the LORD,for he has been good to me!
I learned that night that my prayer can remain--"How long"--as long as I need it to be. Because someday, like King David, I, too, will be able to add: "I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me!"