I think it is important to hear a whole psalm. When we listen to all of Psalm 63, we are reminded that the people who wrote the psalms were real! Life was not all sweet and happy, they had real enemies and real trouble. They recognized that even if the words of a poem couldn’t bring down judgment on them, they could at least state that God’s righteousness should and would some day make all things right.
All this reality helps us identify with the theme of the psalm, thirsting for God.
I believe we have a deep need for communion with God. Whether that is a “God-shaped hole” I don’t know. I know that I feel connected to the psalmist when I read,
"God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
And yet with all the thirst in the world, we don’t hear much about thirsting for God.
One pastor, Lindsay Armstrong, said, “our gusto for God can be remarkably small, particularly when contrasted with the joy and delight in God that we discover in the Psalms.”
Anyone looking down on our daily lives might see us thirst for cola or hunger for a new electronic toy. They are more likely to see or hear me craving for my first cup of coffee in the morning, than to hear me talk about my thirst for God.
Our desires, our hungers and thirsts are “disordered” and misdirected for the most part. We have the whole advertising world working against us. How can we help but want to surf the internet faster, or have a cell phone with more features when we are bombarded with images and sales pitches everywhere we look. We hunger for movie channels and thirst for cappuccinos drizzled with chocolate, but we don’t hear anything about the craving of our souls.
In our super-sized world, “loving God more than life still feels foreign to most of us.”
Pastor Armstrong is right when she says our desire for God has rarely been so full-bodied that it feels like hunger or thirst. Instead, we are more often overwhelmed or embarrassed by the religious passions exhibited by some. We may be tempted to downplay the importance of cultivating a ZEAL for God.” (L. Armstrong in Feasting on the Word, Yr. C vol. 2 p. 84)
But I find hope in what she says because she reminds me that our zeal for God CAN be CULTIVATED and it comes with spending time with the object of our love.
There is a one-word definition for the relationship between God and humanity and it is PRAYER.
Whether we want to recognize our thirst for God or quench it, we need to spend time in prayer.
Prayer is talking and listening.
Prayer is intending to hear God and
Prayer is responding to God.
Prayer does not make God be present, God is absolutely present to all people. Prayer is consent to a relationship to which ALL are invited. Prayer is grounded in the expectation that god speaks to us and we can hear God.” Urban Holmes says that expectation that we can hear God is called FAITH.
Today we cultivate our Zeal for God when we quench our thirst at the fountain of God’s presence. Today we both petition and we listen for God. AND we sharpen our expectation that we will hear God.
You may remember that we that we are each drawn to a different style of prayer depending on how we are made. (and remember we are made in God’s image)
Some of us are thinking-prayers and some focus on what we feel.
Some prefer a prayer of emptying and others imagine God when they pray.
We set aside some prayer time for silence and it is healing for some and jarring for others.
Some of you sing your prayers while others just listen.
Many of us will write our prayer requests and walk forward to place them in the offering plate as a symbol to remind us that our prayers are given over to God.
For some, walking up is too demonstrative, maybe they will choose to text their prayers by phone or just sit with their requests.
Some people simply feel most connected to God when they offer up the work of their body in service. And that too is a prayer.
There is No ONE-RIGHT way to pray.
The rituals we use in the church are designed to reach us in places that words can’t. Our prayers don’t actually go “UP” ^ as if God is UP there somewhere, and yet, I use the language of offering UP prayer as a symbol of our God who is so much greater than what we experience on THIS level.
We use actions and symbols because God reaches us beyond thoughts and words. And when we don’t even know what to pray, we are told the Holy Spirit handles even that for us, with “groans too deep for words.”
It is in these deep places beyond words that we thirst for God.
Because we have faith, we can turn over all our concerns to God.
Because we have faith, we trust that God hears us and wants us to be whole.
So we take time in prayer to listen and we spend time petitioning God. We ask for healing and wholeness, we talk to God about our hurts and our fears. We seek God for us and for our friends. And through our searching, we find that even our thirst can be filled