Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.
If you are practicing the Liturgy of the Hours, these two prayers are very familiar to you. The first is said every morning to start the prayer time and the second, every evening. Last night, after Jim and I had prayed the Liturgy and he had gone to bed, I was thinking about them.
The first comes from Psalms 51, which David wrote after Nathan confronted him about killing Uriah and claiming Bathsheba as his own. After atoning to God, David prays:
O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness. O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.
The second comes from Psalm 69, while lamenting over his enemies, David prays to God:
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
As Jim and I finished our prayers this morning, I shared with him that I had been thinking about these Psalms and why it is that we pray them in the order we do, each day. He told me it made sense to him too. At the beginning of the day, when everything is bright and new, we praise His glory. And that, in the evening, after the trials of the day weighed upon you, seeking his help seemed proper. Not that we don’t do both all day…but for the sake of this prayer time, this is the order.
I was still thinking on this as I began preparing my favorite meal of the year…an Americanized version of Irish cuisine, corned beef and carrots, mashed potatoes, buttered cabbage, Irish soda bread and apple tart. I was feeling pretty good about my assessment until life interrupted my thoughts.
It doesn’t matter what happened. All that matters is I let it take me from a place of awareness of God and His unchanging presence to a mind quickly pushing God aside. I mean, there’s no room for God when I’m full of righteous indignation…right?
Thankfully, no, it’s not correct. That’s exactly when I need Him the most. Lord!! Make haste to help me!
By putting my mind back where it should be, even kicking and dragging like a three-year-old leaving a candy store, I was able focus once again on God and his continuing grace that He extends to me. Oh Lord, I know my offenses…they are always before me!
This reminds me once again of the verses in Laminations 3 that my favorite hymn was based on:
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
And here I shall remain.