Praying A to Z
Those whose way is blameless—who walk in the Lord’s Instruction—are truly happy! Those who guard God’s laws are truly happy! They seek God with all their hearts. – Psalm 119:1-2 (CEB)
Going from Alef to Tav, the beginning to the end of the Hebrew alphabet, Psalm 119 forms an acrostic poem wherein each line begins with the next letter of the alphabet.
Acrostic poetry was all the rage for psalmists.
Before tweets and soundbites, poets looked to the alphabet to provide a
Creative container to lift up praise and gratitude,
Darting from one letter to the next in order to
Knowing how to transform this gimmick into art requires practice, an evergreen
Lesson in cultivating playfulness and rejecting perfectionism.
Meditating on each word choice and placement allows a poet to
Notice new opportunities to describe an expansive faith that is at once
Our favorite pair of worn-in jeans and a
Party dress that shimmers and beckons, new on the rack.
Quibbling and questioning their way through the thesaurus, poets seek out
Revelation, holding each word up to the light of God to glimpse what filters through,
Stacking letter upon letter to create a tower of verses that
Tells the story of our Creator’s devotion,
Uncovers the mercy of our Redeemer’s grace,
Venerates our Sustainer’s sacred presence!
When your prayer life begins to feel
Xerophilous—that is, extremely dry—
You might take a note from psalmists by trying a new/old form of prayer
Zigzagging toward God from A to Z with a bit of trepidation and a whole lot of zeal.
Abba, dear Father, one Mother of us all,
Bestow on us the poetic grace of the psalmists, or better yet:
Craft in us a faith that endures even when we struggle to find the right words.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.