March 6: Psalm 61


March 6: Psalm 61

Prayer as both petition and confidence—drawing near to God in hope

88.88.88                   Melita (Eternal Father, Strong to Save), p. 150
St. Catherine (Faith of our Fathers)

My voice and prayer, O God, attend; from ends of earth to Thee I send

O God, my supplicating cry, unto the Rock higher than I.

When ‘ere my heart is faint and weak, then lead me to the rock I seek.

In Thee my soul has shelter found, and thou has been from foes around

The mighty tower to which I flee; a refuge safe I find in Thee.

Within Thy house I will abide, and underneath Thy wings will hide.

For Thou, O God, my vows hast heard, on me the heritage conferred;

With all who in Thy name do fear, from age to age through all the years,

Long life Thou to the king will give; through generations he shall live.

Before his God he shall abide; O do Thou truth and grace provide;

Preserve and keep him in the way. Then I my daily vows will pay,

Praise to Thy name will ever sing, a song of praise will daily bring,

Combining petition and confidence, Psalm 61 is one of the simplest and easiest prayers of the Psalter. “Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Already is introduced here the first part of a contrast between “far” and “near.” The movement from far to near, which is the whole business of prayer, is a great deal more than a mere psychological experience. It has to do, rather, with the mystery of redemption: “But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). It is not a feeling, but a fact, that without Christ, we are far off, and the anxiety of heart, mentioned here as characteristic of our being far from God, is well founded. Our drawing near to God in prayer is based on His drawing near to us in Christ, who is the one place where God and man meet. No prayer goes to God except through Christ. It is Christ who gives both foundation and form to our “drawing near” to God, for “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2). (Reardon, p. 119-120)

The basis for all prayer is the acknowledgement that there is “a Rock who is higher than I,” and in that Rock, by the mercy of Christ, we have confident hope.