How Can I Say This?

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night talking to God.

Luke 6:12

I recently participated in a great conversation regarding prayer. As we chatted, those with me shared their favorite means of communicating with God. I repeated what I’ve often shared in this space: I do my best praying while walking outdoors and talking to God in my own words. Since my walks have been less regular these days, I’ve found myself talking to God whenever I’m alone and in the midst of almost everything I’m doing. Still, there have been occasions when I’ve found it impossible to voice my misery or that of someone I’m praying for. When I’m at a loss for the right words, I most often turn to the Book of Psalms. Each of its 150 entries voices sentiments appropriate to either the joyful or the troubling moments which punctuate our lives.

Not long after that conversation, I ran into a friend who’d been there. He couldn’t help telling me about his recent interaction with The Book of Psalms. What he found there had helped him to express himself more meaningfully. My friend reminded me of what I’d said: “When in doubt, go to the psalms.”

When I returned home that day, I pulled out my bible and perused the Book of Psalms for a refresher. Yes, there is a psalm for every occasion under heaven. Take a peek to see for yourself.

Dear God, thank you for the psalmist who spoke so well for us all!

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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This I Can Do!

Why must I go about mourning
with the enemy oppressing me?.

From Psalm 42:2

Once again, I allowed circumstances over which I have little or no control to upset me. A newscast fueled my frustration with the powers-that-be in this world of ours. “Do they really believe that this sort of posturing helps any of us?” I asked the television. A phone call from someone with a “church question” prompted me to voice my impatience regarding the many rules which fail to serve God’s people. “Is this what God wants?” I asked myself. Then I reviewed my to-do list which included far more than I could ever accomplish in a single day. “Now what?” I asked.

Before I edited my to-do list, a chirping chorus drew me to the window. Five robins had gathered at the foot of our bird house. They seemed to be hashing out just how to proceed in settling into this spring’s home. The robins ignored several squirrels who chased one another through the trees. They also ignored the rabbit who nibbled at seeds just a few feet away. Eventually, the robins seemed to have finalized their plan because they flew away, each in a different direction.

My feathered friends hinted a bit of wisdom regarding what I should do about the tasks at hand. I’ll always be concerned about the affairs of this world and I’ll pray fervently regarding them. I’ll even write letters to those who might listen. In the mean time, I will tend to the work at hand by setting aside the things over which I have no control. Then I’ll be free to embrace the opportunities to actually do something about the tasks close at hand. This I can do.

Loving God, thank you for directing my efforts through your creatures great and small.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A Psalm for Everything!

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

While walking the mall, I ran into a friend from church whom I haven’t seen in a while. She’s been there very week, but I’ve been busy at the parish information desk. As a result, we haven’t had the chance to talk. Our matching smiles indicated that we were both grateful for this chance encounter. As we walked along, my friend told me that she’d been meaning to call to thank me for a suggestion I’d given her a while back. We had both been struggling with circumstances we share and she wanted to let me know that she’d finally been able to pray productively regarding them. My friend reminded me of that I told her: “When in doubt, go to the psalms. There’s a psalm for anything and everything we can’t seem to put into words for ourselves.” Apparently, I was right because what she found had helped her to express herself meaningfully and to realize that our frustration with this life is nothing new.

Later, when I arrived at home, I decided to take my own advice. I perused the Book of Psalms for a refresher. I couldn’t help smiling as I told myself, “Yes, there is a psalm for every occasion under heaven!” By the way, I did find the consolation I needed as well.

Dear God, thank you for those wise psalmists who inspire our prayer in so many beautiful ways!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Meticulous Care

In the beginning was the Word;
the Word was with God
and the word was God.

John 1:1

While in Israel, over the course of a few days, it rained sporadically. I shared earlier that our guide Yossi did a happy dance in response as Israel was in the midst of a drought. This didn’t dampen our spirits until we realized that flood waters pouring down from the mountains caused us to be rerouted on our way to Masada. WE had to visit Qumran instead. Though the views from Masada are breathtaking, I secretly joined Yossi in his happy dance. I was eventually relieved and happy to share with my tour-mates that our view of Qumran rivaled that of Masada.

The rocky mountainside of Qumran was the home of what are called the Dead Sea Scrolls. These truly ancient writings were discovered between my toddler and teen years. Their importance was immediately recognized. By the time I entered college, their discovery had revolutionized Old Testament studies.

The caves of Qumran were used for storage only. Several scrolls from Genesis, Deuteronomy and The Psalms, among others, filled numerous ancient jars which protected them from the elements for what seems like forever. As I looked from cave to cave, I wondered about those who’d written the scriptures and those who devoted themselves to meticulously copying them. A few days later when I viewed bits of these scrolls at the Israeli Museum, I understood what an amazing miracle it is to have any of them in our possession in the 21st Century!

Sometimes, I wonder about the Lord God who so meticulously tends to you and me. All the while, God works to preserve our goodness and to arm us against the elements which threaten during this life. Perhaps God has discovered something in each of us which will revolutionize our little corners of the world. God only knows!

Dear God, thank you for your ever-present faith in each of us!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God’s Watchful Eye

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
forever and ever.

Psalm 23:6

Several weeks ago, I shared that a friend asked me how I was doing. She wasn’t being polite. She really wanted to know. Soon after, another friend ran into someone I haven’t seen in quite some time. This man had been a fellow parishioner of our church who relocated. He asked how I was doing because he really wanted to know as well. Both read these posts and both have the impression that something is bothering me. What astute readers I’m blessed with! More importantly, how wonderful it is that they took the time to express their concern.

I consider myself to be a generously blessed soul. At the same time, I’m a painfully sensitive soul. I take the suffering around me to heart and I find it difficult to acknowledge that I can’t remedy it all. While my family and loved ones nearby are fine, others in the vicinity and throughout this world suffer devastation I can only imagine. These reflections allow me to encourage others and myself as we plod along. This is the reason I find such consolation in Psalm 23. The Shepherd who inspired this prayer watches over us every step of the way. This Shepherd cares for each of us as only a shepherd can. I find great comfort in this realization.

Many people have troubles which seem insurmountable. Like my friends who expressed their concern for me, I must express my concern as well. If there is something tangible I can do to help, I will do it. If not, I must pray and I must rely on God to do the rest.

Dear God, be with us as we encourage one another today and always.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Do Pray!

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

When friends recently requested prayers for an ailing parent, I promised to storm heaven on their loved ones behalf. Though I believe we always have God’s attention, I also think that adding our own positive energy to the mix is helpful. Much to my dismay, I found myself lacking in that positive energy. I’ve been tired and stressed over some things and I’m frustrated over my inability to improve them. As I struggled to voice the prayer my friends requested and one regarding my own situation, my words failed me. After several uncomfortable minutes, it occurred to me that I needed to heed my own advice.

Whenever I’m asked about prayer, I encourage those interested to speak to God in their own words. If the words don’t come, I suggest that they sit quietly and simply accept the fact that God does understand. If they feel that they must say something, I add, “When in doubt, go to the psalms. There’s a psalm for anything and everything we can’t seem to put into words for ourselves.”

After taking a few minutes to laugh at myself over my inability to practice what I preach, I turned to the Book of Psalms for the words I needed. I happily rediscovered that there is a psalm for every occasion under heaven. And, yes, I found the precise wording I needed to pray on behalf of my friends and of myself.

Dearest Lord, thank you for inspiring our prayer in so many beautiful ways!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved