One of the gifts of the lectionary and church calendar is the backbone it gives to our lives. If these gifts are the collective, devotional wisdom of the Church down through the centuries, then they are Fathers advising us about how to pray and what to pray for and when. Of course we may generally pray for anything at any time, any place. But following the lead of our Fathers places some healthy constraints on us. While we may face a particularly trying situation, we may find ourselves in Christmas or Easter. Or we may be blessed with overwhelming gifts and kindness and mercy and find ourselves in Advent or Lent or Holy Week. And this doesn’t mean that we must put on superficial faces to fit in with the tenor of the calendar. But it does offer a deeper wisdom to our situations. Even in deep, abounding joy and laughter, there must be a humility that recognizes our need for grace and mercy. Likewise, in our deepest sorrows, if we are entreated to sing psalms of joy and give gifts to one another, it is the wisdom of the Fathers that reminds us to rejoice in all things and to give thanks even in the shadow of death.
Something similar is found in praying through the Psalter on a regular basis. As the inspired prayer book of the Church, the Psalter leads us to pray for things we wouldn’t ordinarily pray for, thank God for things we might not otherwise remember to thank him for, and again it directs the tenor of our lives, offering a masthead to our ship in the main.
In one of the Psalms for this morning’s prayer, Psalm 99, it says, “The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient; he sitteth between the Cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet.”
We have our storms and trials and victories and battles, and still the Lord is King, still he sits enthroned.
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