“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
I start every Sunday morning sermon that I preach with these words from Psalm 19; I’m sure you’ve heard other preachers do the same.
Of course it’s a classic way to start, but that’s not why I do it. The real, secret reason I always pray this prayer is this: I have a terror of the blank page. I hate sitting down to start a sermon and seeing that little blinking cursor on that big blank page; freaks me right out. The anxiety used to drive me to waste hours surfing the Web or playing solitaire on the computer while I searched for a way to start writing.
Then I discovered that if I just sit down and type those words first thing, I feel significantly better. I haven’t really written any of the sermon at that point, but it turns out that a mostly-blank page is way less scary than a blank one. I think of it as a sort of holy filler, a trick to calm me down enough to write.
Which is really not a bad way to think of it: Don’t know what to do? Ask God for help. Got no words of your own? Use the Psalmist’s; that’s what they’re for. Paralyzed by the situation and don’t know how to start? Pray. It is, I promise, a way better way to get started than surfing the Web.
God, grant that my every endeavor, the ones I know how to start and the ones I don’t, might begin with you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.