You understand me, Lord

Psalm 139 Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed / CC BY-SA 4.0
 
Lord,
you understand me,
you know my every thought,
my brain is not a mystery to you.
Enter into my mind, Lord,
guide and direct my thoughts.
Be before me when I speak,
be beside me when I act,
be within me when I listen,
that I might possess
the wisdom born of love,
for you are love,
the love which understands
everything.
 
Frank Topping, 1937-, English minister and author
 
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O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
 

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a sign of your goodness

Photo by Joachim Riegel on Unsplash  
Father, I’m a man of my time and situation,
Around me, the signs and symbols of man’s fear, hatred, alienation;
a bomb exploding in a market square;
. . . faces on TV twisted in mocking confrontation.
It’s not that we haven’t tried, Father,
to find ways to peace and reconciliation
but always too little, too late;
the forces of opposition were too great . . . 
I am perplexed, angry, hopeless, sick, I want to turn
my back, wash my hands, save myself, my family, get out.
But every time I turn to go
there stands in my way a cross . . .
 
Lord, make me a child of hope, reborn from apathy,
cynicism, and despair, ready to work for that new man
you have made possible by walking the way of the cross yourself.
I do have hope grounded on your victory over powers
of evil, death itself, focused on your kingdom,
breaking on us now as light out of deep darkness.
And I do see signs of hope immediately around me.
I see a wider sign:
I see a sign – flower growing on a bombed-out site.
The sign – an empty cross.  The burden, Lord, is yours.
Lord, I am a prisoner of hope! There is life before death.
 
Prayer from Northern Ireland
 
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Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

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Our dwelling places

My dwelling places are many, Lord:
   my house or apartment, my dorm or condo;
   my neighborhood, parish and local community;
   where I work, where I study, where I pray;
      my dwelling places are many….

First of all, I thank you, Lord,
   not only for so many dwelling places in my day
but for the gift at each day’s end of a door
   to a place, to a room with a roof overhead,
      the place I call home, 
   whether large and spacious or small and cramped,
       a place to lay down my head at night and rest…
 
My dwelling may not be a castle, Lord,
   but how many in need would deem it a palace
for its locks and safety, its light and warmth, a fridge with food, 
   a shower and toilet, a bed and a pillow, an address for mail,
for it’s being a place to return to each night
   for being a place to call home…

I thank you for my dwelling place, Lord:
   let me not take it for granted
      and keep me generously mindful
         of those who have no place they might call home…

And how lovely is your dwelling place,   
   O Lord of hosts…

Your dwelling is the universe and all the heavens
   – and beyond the heavens, Lord…

Your dwelling has no roof, no walls,
   no beginning and no end…

The beauty of your dwelling’s beyond anything
   my mind might conceive or my dreams imagine
and yet – your dwelling place is with me and in me…

You who cannot be confined,
   you choose to dwell within my soul
      and make your home within my heart…

You, whom all creation can’t contain,
   you enter my humble quarters,
      the spare, simple chambers of my heart,
   and there, in Spirit, make yourself at home…

And, Lord, as you can see,
   I’m seldom ready for company,
      for receiving any guests at all,
         let alone, you, the greatest guest of all…

So, please forgive me,
   (indeed, forgive me, Lord!)
for my house is not in order, not yet or ever ready
   to be a place where you might dwell
      a place you might call home…

And yet, you come, you enter and you stay
   and you don’t leave, you don’t go away,
      you remain within me, always,
and in making my heart your home
   you make of your heart a home for me…

Amen.

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All-transcendent God!

O All-Transcendent God
what words can hymn Your praises?
No word does You justice.
What mind can probe Your secret?
No mind can encompass You.
You are alone beyond the power of speech,
yet all that we speak stems from You.
You are alone beyond the power of thought,
yet all that we can conceive springs from You.
All things proclaim You,
those endowed with reason and those bereft of it.
All the expectation and pain of the world coalesces in You.
All things utter a prayer to You,
a silent hymn composed by You.
You sustain everything that exists,
and all things move together to Your orders.
You are the goal of all that exists.
You are one and You are all,
yet You are none of the things that exist,
neither a part nor the whole.
You can avail Yourself of any name;
how shall I call You,
the only unnameable?
All-transcendent God!

Gregory of Nazianzus, 329-389, Archbishop of Constantinople
The Encyclopedia of Prayer and Praise

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Psalm 95:1-7
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash