Advent Door 12: Two Simple Prayers

Psalm 85:10-11 by Anna Elkins

The Advent Door Reading Plan
Day 12 Reading: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

For a description of today’s art by the artist, click here

Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
From Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill

O Beloved,
how gracious You are to your people;
You restore their souls time and time again.
You forgive their iniquity
when they wander far from you;
You give them new life.

Listen, O people, in the silent chapel of your heart
And the Beloved will speak of peace to you,
To the hidden saints, to all who turn their hearts to Love.
Surely new life is at hand for those who reverence Love;
O, that harmony might dwell among the nations.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
Righteousness and peace will embrace one another.
Wisdom will spring up from the ground and truth will look down from the sky.
Yes, the Eternal Giver will grant what is good, and the lands will yield abundantly.
Mercy and compassion are Love’s way,
And will guide our footsteps upon the path of peace.

So where do we see the qualities of God at play in our own day, in our own imaginations? In art, in writing, in liturgy, in the daily living out of our desire to follow Christ, how does God appear around us and within us? Where do we witness the meeting places of mercy and truth, of peace and justice? In this season of celebrating the incarnation, how do we open our own selves to be a meeting place for the qualities of God? – Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door

When I first became a Christian, I only prayed for others. I never prayed for myself, thinking it was somehow selfish or prideful. I was trying my best as a teenage girl to flee those character traits and the only way I knew how to do it was to avoid anything and everything that might be tied to them.

A wise woman reminded me that it was important to include myself in my prayers. If you want to build a relationship with someone, you need to reveal yourself. In excluding myself I was avoiding honesty and intimacy with God.

My concern was legitimate, but I had thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water. In order to avoid the pitfalls of self-promotion, she suggested two simple prayers.

God, help me to be faithful.
Make me a woman after your own heart.

This was exactly what I needed. I had been aiming for perfect, when in reality faithful was a far better goal for me. Perfect is a fine goal, even Biblical. (Matthew 5:48) Yet in my mind, being perfect was entangled with my strength and will power in a way that came with a great deal of baggage. Faithful felt like God and I working together. It recognized that following God was a lifelong process of becoming more Christ-like. Intentional, ongoing transformation. Faithful was freeing.

And there was more! A woman after your own heart. This phrase tapped into a place with God that felt safe and at the same time awesome and challenging. The heart involved the deepest desire… essence… my very being. Heart spoke to compassion as well as justice, peace as well as righteousness, truth as well as love.

David had been a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) Mary had treasured things in her heart. (Luke 2:19) There was something about their interior lives and my own interior life that I longed to discover and that God wanted to reveal.

God has been so very faithful to answer this prayer. May it be useful to you as you open yourself to be a meeting place for the fullness of God.

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.
– Cleland B. McAfee

This year’s Advent reflections are inspired by the e-book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas [Kindle Edition] by author and artist Jan Richardson. In the style of a classic Advent calendar, Jan offers twenty five reflections, each with an original piece of art. Consider this your invitation to join me and Jan on this journey to Christmas. – Lisa <><

For more information on the Christian season of Advent, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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