Stir up your might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” - Psalm 80:2b-3 (NRSV)
An Episcopal friend tells me that the prayer in their prayer book, based on this passage from Psalm 80, is known as the “stirrup” prayer. “Stir up you might, O God.”
Stirrups, as you know, are the things riders put their feet into while on horseback. Stirrups help you stay on the horse, but also provide leverage for the occasional prod in the ribs to get the horse going or going faster.
It seems sort of presumptuous to think that God needs to be prodded to action. But that’s pretty much what Psalm 80 says, and what it does. “Crank it up, God! Stir up your might and save us!”
It may be presumptuous to pray to God in this way, as if God needed a nudge in the ribs to get going, but I wonder if there are other problems with “Stir it up God.”
Like, what if something happened? Are we afraid that if we really prayed like this, if we called on God to stir up her might, to come and save us, something might happen? Then what? Then where would we be?
Well, at the very least, we’d be in a world where God does something, where God comes (which is sort of what “Advent” means), where God intrudes upon our plans and projects, parties and pains.
Do we want that?
I don’t know what will happen if we go to God boldly and pray, with the psalmist, “Stir up your might, and come to save us!”
But how about this: from today until Christmas day, let’s you and me give it a try. Pray boldly. Call on God to come. Ask God to shine on you and every person or place that need some light. Get up in the saddle and shout, “Giddy-up God.”
Come Lord Jesus, break in upon us and make us new. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book, Useful Wisdom: Letter to Young (and Not So Young) Ministers will be published early next year by Wipf and Stock. You can read and sign up for his blog at www.anthonybrobinson.com.