Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, September 8

When I was in trouble, I called to the Lord; I called to the Lord, and he answered me.
—Psalm 120:1

This verse from Psalm 120 reminds me of the countless times I have “called to the Lord” when I, like the psalmist, am “in trouble.”  I am also reminded that often it takes some kind of trouble for me to break my habit of putting many other things in my life ahead of my relationship to God.

I have discovered an effective “tool” for bringing my scattered, random prayer life in order. This “tool” is a three-volume Manual for Prayer called The Divine Hours compiled by Phylis Tickle, a regular pray-er of long standing.

The Divine Hours offers Morning, Midday, and Evening (Vespers) prayers, plus a section called Compline, to be used before going to sleep. Praying four times a day may sound daunting, but having gently eased myself into this routine, I find it invaluable. And I gently forgive myself when I fail to observe it.

There are other resources available for fixed-hour prayer. And, of course, there are dozens of guides for daily prayer. What I have found is that choosing to stop several times during the day helps me to slowly, slowly develop a foundation for prayer, so that when I am “in trouble,” prayer is not so much a desperate plea as it is a deepened, more urgent communication.

The psalmist doesn’t tell us that her trouble was erased, lifted, or solved. She simply writes that she called on the Lord, and the Lord answered. I once read that when we pray often we become hollowed out to receive God’s answers, the way water constantly dripping can hollow out a stone.

I like to think that this psalmist was someone who practiced regular prayer and was thus hollowed out to accept God’s response. When we can do that, the “trouble” may not go away, but we know we are not alone in the midst of it.

Lord, you created us and formed us. Help us to understand not only our responsibility to practice regular prayer but also the joy that awaits us when we do. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.