Friday, May 12, 2017

Devotional 5-12-17

“Hear  Our  Prayer”
Psalm 31, verses 1-5,
Verses 15 and 16:  “My times are in Thy hands: deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.   Let thy face shine upon thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love.”

A vivid childhood memory is that of observing my grandmother pack boxes to be shipped to Poland. Years before, at the conclusion of the First World War, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South sent several persons to Europe to determine where the Church might establish a presence to relieve some of the suffering inflicted from the War.  Poland was one of the countries.  Now, years later my grandmother received a letter from a person she knew writing on behalf of the Methodists remaining in Warsaw.  Life was difficult due to hardships imposed by the Communist regime.  They were in dire need of medicines and warm clothing. Could she help? There were challenges in mailing packages to Poland as boxes were frequently opened, searched and inspectors kept what they wanted for themselves.  This did not deter my grandmother.  Friends from church donated clothing requested. Whenever a new garment was given, she was off to the scrub board in the basement to fray the fabric just enough to make it unappealing to inspectors. A physician in the church donated medications normally dispensed by prescriptions only.  I watched as she skillfully sewed medications, one pill at a time, into the lining of a man’s overcoat or another prescription into the hem of a heavy wool skirt.  Some might say that she was ahead of the times in shipping pills into a country undetected!  She later learned that while not all boxes arrived completely intact, many did.  Certainly those who received the contents felt not only blessed but that a prayer had been answered.

A lectionary reading for this week is selected verses from Psalm 31 including the verses quoted above. It is a psalm attributed to David.   The psalmist prayed to God to save him from the hands of his adversaries.   While we do not know a lot about those persecuting him, it is clear that the psalmist placed his trust and reliance upon the steadfast love of the Lord.  He prayed to God to deliver him.  I was reminded when reading this passage how many times throughout history God has worked through ordinary persons to answer the prayers of another.   What was true in the past is also true now:  a card or call to a person whose prayer is to be remembered; time or resources to fill backpacks with food for children whose unspoken prayer is for something to eat over the weekend; personal contacts with someone who has rarely gone to church but wonders what it would be like to meet others in a setting of fellowship and acceptance. 

There is another dimension to the psalmist prayer.  He knew that his times were in God’s hands.  He asked for a blessing that God’s face might shine upon him and redeem him yet he also inclined his spirit to God’s safe keeping.  The psalmist opened his heart to God and so can we.

Gracious God, nudge us and use us in answering the prayers of others and when as the psalmist, we incline our spirits and needs to Thy loving care, Lord in Thy mercy, Hear our prayer.  Amen.

 (This devotion is dedicated to the loving memory of Virginia Bourne Darlington.)

Sue D. Woods

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