Nov. 13, 2013 Civility in Xian Scripture
November 13: My civility is a prayer.
Psalm 19:12-14, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
I love those words, and it’s tough not to sing them in the melody in which I learned them long ago: “O let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O God.” I truly first heard the melody and placed this verse in my heart many years ago when first hearing Keith Lancaster singing the words, as he and his companions have sung so many verses of scripture into the fabric of my heart and soul. Just as a bonus, here are some the Acappella guys singing many beautiful passages woven together, including this prayer from Psalm 19: More Precious Than Gold.
About a year ago I began adding these words to our opening prayers at Church in Bethesda. It was a spontaneous move one morning, and it stuck. It really gets at the root of what we often hope and pray: we want to please our God. We want our words and actions to make God happy and to honor all that God has said and done. These words are usually slipped in right after inviting God to be our “honored guest” in worship and right before we all together pray the words of the prayer Jesus left to us in Matthew 6.
I realize that the words in Psalm 19 are probably most reflective of the preceding prayers that David has articulated: forgive my hidden sins and bend my will to your own. It’s safe to say that such a desire is going to be pleasing to God. To take the prayer “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight…” out of Psalm 19 and apply them to my daily life is not to steal them from their truest meaning, but to give them a broader reach of hope. To bring them into my prayers for civility is not to misappropriate them, but it is to lift my daily words and actions into a new realm, into a new kingdom.
Have I brought my civility to God’s throne? Have I lifted my hopes and prayers to the level that David lifted his, to become an offering to God? If I see you on the street today, or if you drop by my office, or if we discuss politics or faith or fine dining, will I honor God with my meditations and words? Have I prayed it to the point that it’s woven into the liner of my heart and the tapestry of my soul? I won’t be up to the task every moment of every day, and I can easily imagine the times I will fail and fail memorably… but that is not a good enough reason not to journey on.
O God, forgive my hidden and secret sins, the ones I treasure too much and keep safely tucked away. I would be your servant, and that means I want to follow your lead in all my life, all my words and all my actions. I want to be more blameless, more worthy and more aware, of what you are doing in this world… and what you would do in me. May it be so.