Teach me wisdom in my secret heart (v. 6).
Self-reflection is a skill we must develop. Too often I function in survival mode and consider self-reflection a luxury for which I have no time or energy. Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly might be describing me when he writes about “our absurdly crowded calendars of appointments through which so many pantingly and frantically gasp.” When I step back, I must admit that I’m too distracted to listen to God and see the world as God sees. Learning wisdom requires me to make an intentional effort to stop, listen for God’s Spirit, and reflect on how my life is rooted in the ways of love.
The psalms are essential for any who seek to live their faith, love God with all that they are, and love others as themselves. When we pray the psalms, we immerse ourselves in Scripture’s language and delve into the depths of lament, thanksgiving, confession and praise. These words and songs formed Jesus’ prayer life, filling him with truth and wisdom.
Psalm 51 speaks from King David’s perspective of privilege and power. When the prophet Nathan calls out his sin, David is contrite and responds by writing this prayer-song. His heart-felt confession reveals his desire for God’s presence and forgiveness. He longs to return to joy. Over time these words have resonated with many souls, providing language that expresses our deepest longings.
In prayer, we stand totally exposed before God, who declares that all of our failings are powerless against God’s steadfast love. Only in the solitude and silence of prayerful self-reflection can we escape the distractions that compete for our attention and focus on what stirs our souls. Only then can we experience the joy and gladness of release and hear words of God’s forgiveness.
What distracts you from self-reflection and honest prayer before God?
God, help me to center my soul in your loving presence. Create in me a clean heart. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew my Spirit. Amen.