An Alphabet of Prayer

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Magnify: One year for Vacation Bible School, we had magnifying glasses out as part of our gathering activity with preschoolers. It was the second day of the week, and as the children showed up, we handed a jumbo play magnifying glass to each child so they could examine the plants, rocks, stained glass windows, or even just one another.

Then a child arrived who had missed the first day. He was young, barely three years old, and had not been away from his family often. It was his first drop off program. He came in and for a moment was fine. We handed him a magnifying glass so he could explore with the other children, but at the exact moment when he held the magnifying glass up to his face, he realized his parent had left, and he started to cry. As his tears flowed, he instinctively tightened his grip on the magnifying glass, and it was as if he couldn’t let go. Every tear was amplified. We did finally get him calmed and he joyfully came back the rest of the week, but I will never forget that little face, tears enlarged and intensified. Magnified.

Sometimes we use the word magnify to talk about God. It feels like a very “churchy” kind of word, in its own way. But remembering the magnified tears helps me put it all in perspective. When we read, “O magnify the Lord” (Psalm 34:3), maybe we mean to amplify and intensify our experience of the divine. When we read, “I will magnify God with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30), maybe we mean to widen our praise, deepen our adoration, and make visible our praise of the Lord our God. We hold a magnifying glass up, relying on our praise-worthy God to enlarge our encounter and expand our hearts. In that way, we grow more clear in our intentions to draw near to the One in whom we live and move and have our being.

Praying the Alphabet
All majesty and honor are yours, almighty God.
Make yourself known among us.
For we try too hard to manage,
manipulate and manufacture our lives.
Set your sacred map in our midst,
so that we might march to your melody,
magnifying your name.

February 16, 2022

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