Thursday, June 10, 2021 (Day 10)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 10 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
Why do You stand far off, O Lord,
Turn away in times of distress?
In the wicked man’s pride he pursues the poor,
But is caught in the schemes he devised…
The desire of the poor You have heard, O Lord,
You made their heart firm, Your ear listens.
To do justice for the orphan and the wretched,
And let none still oppress man in the land.
An Opening Word
It’s as if the Psalmist are just on repeat, “Why do you stand far off?” Psalm 10 ask God, as if again sensing the despair and tenderness of less-than-regular attention from God. If you ever feel as if you are not getting the answers you want from God, not getting a response from God, not hearing back after weeks and months in prayer, then remember you are not alone: these psalms are the most ancient of prayers, three millennia old, and we keep carrying them around with us, calling them holy because they speak to us again and again.
If your relationship with God is on rocky ground, there is hope in Augustine of Hippo, who’s equally ancient prayer (merely fifteen hundred years old) says it another way: we are restless until we rest in God. We are upside-down and backward, inside-out and wrecked when we cannot rest in that peace, presence, and remarkable strength of God’s nearness.
Augustine of Hippo is an African theologian from the fourth century who began life as “a bit of a seeker” but, as is the case with many mothers of teenagers, his mother prayed fervently for his commitment and conversion to Christianity. He was in his mid-thirties when he finally did turn to faith, so all you worried moms out there, keep praying. He and his mother had a mystical encounter with the divine—together “touched by the Eternal Wisdom abiding over all.” Augustine had a vivid inner life, full of wrestling with his past and wrestling for understanding God (you probably know of Augustine’s Confessions if you know anything of his). He was back and forth from his home town in what is now Algeria, to Rome or Milan, hot spots for Christian leaders to grow, learn and gain influence. He became a priest, then was promoted to bishop over Hippo in Northern Africa.
Prayer from the Mystics: Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you. Amen.