Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
God sounds frustrated in this passage, saying, in essence, “Plead your case! What have I done to you—what’s your complaint? Answer me!” God wants our participation, even if it’s marred by anger or disappointment. The Israelites kept backing away from such engagement, acting out their fears and hostilities in foolish, counter-productive ways.
How often is my own prayer a kind of backing away from God? Whether I’m angry at God or frustrated at work or feeling hurt by a loved one, the strong emotion will quickly shut down prayer unless I am quite intentional about bringing it to the surface, allowing my honest reactions to be part of the prayer.
Am I disappointed today? Upset, weary, furious? Can I bring my contentious, conflicted self to prayer, anyway? Perhaps I can imagine God saying to me, “Speak up! Argue or cry! But do it here, with me.”
—Vinita Wright serves as Managing Editor, New Product Development at Loyola Press, Chicago, IL. Click here to enjoy Loyola Press’s “31 Days with St. Ignatius,” a month-long celebration of Ignatian spirituality in honor of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day on July 31. Content includes articles, blog posts, and videos to help you learn about and apply the principles of Ignatian spirituality.
All right, Lord,
I’ll be honest, but it might not be pretty.
Here’s how I feel.
Here’s what I fear.
Here’s why I’m fuming.
What can I do with this?
I can’t change my feelings, can I?
They overwhelm me—do they overwhelm you?
Of course not! You remind me that you welcome
my prayers—whatever they hold.
Help me remember that you hold me, too.