Daily Devotionals

How is Your Soul?

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Scripture: “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to You; save Your servant who trusts in You. You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord,     for to You do I cry all day long. Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul….Turn to me and be gracious to me; give Your strength to Your servant….” – Psalm 86: 1-4, 16

Let me ask, how is your soul today?  Is your soul a little weary or anxious or isolated?  Frustrated or on edge?

There is a cumulative weariness, a frustration with the way COVID-19 has impacted our daily routines, our economy, our way of living. On top of that, we have been seeing videos that show realities we would prefer to think do not exist… but the images are as clear as day. It’s awkward, because we wish it wasn’t so, yet it is, and it feels like the Deuteronomy passage about the sins of the fathers to the fourth generation is alive and well, still causing pain and brokenness even today.

Amidst that background, as well as the usual fare of people struggling with difficult diagnoses, depression, deaths of loved ones, and more, I ask you, how is your soul today?  Because if your soul is weary or anxious, isolated, or on edge, I want you to hear and to know the comfort God offers through the Psalms.  Like today’s scripture, some Psalms illustrate the miracle of sorts that God, our heavenly Father, is available to us through prayer; that you and I can speak to God directly.  Psalm 86 is a prayer, and it gives voice to what some of you are likely feeling these days.  

This Psalm begins, “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me.”  As you continue to walk through this prayer a few verses at a time on your own, I want you to listen and look at what stands out most to you.  Hear and know that our Heavenly Father, Abba, Papa, delights in our bowing before Him in prayer.  

Writing about prayer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the remarkable Christ-follower who was martyred during World War II, wrote, “The child asks of the Father whom he knows.  Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition.  The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.”

By way of illustration, author Richard Foster wrote once of a father walking through a mall with his two-year-old son. The child was cranky; he kept whining and wriggling.  The father scooped up his little two-year-old grumbler, held him tight to his chest, and began to sing an impromptu love song.  None of the words rhymed.  He sang it off-key, but, as best as he could, he shared his heart: “I love you.  I’m so glad you’re my boy.  You make me laugh.” His son relaxed, captivated by this strange and wonderful song.  Finally, when they had finished, the dad went to the car and buckled his son in the car seat; his son raised his arms and lifted up his head and said, “Sing it to me again, Daddy.  Sing it to me again.”

Whether you are a student or senior adult, a young parent chomping at the bit or an at-risk person plagued by concern; whether you’re the president, a policeman or a protestor; whoever you are and whatever your circumstance, turn, bow, and listen afresh to our Heavenly Father’s songs of justice and love.  In grateful response, let us give God our undivided hearts to worship His holy name.  

Prayer:  O Lord, how majestic is your holy name in all the earth.  Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I need you. Gladden my heart, for to you I lift up my soul.  In Christ’s name, I pray.  Amen.  

Submitted by Rev. Dr. Brad Smith