Some people have heard of the “Jesus prayer,” popularized by the Eastern church tradition. It is an adapted form of the tax collector’s prayer from Luke 18: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Today’s scripture is another type of “Jesus prayer.” It provides an example of how Jesus used the Psalter to express his own pain and suffering. It reminds us that when we face situations where we don’t know how or what to pray, we can turn to the psalms to help us respond. Even from the cross, Jesus teaches us how to pray and honestly express our sorrow, using the words of Psalm 22 as he hangs on the cross: “At about three Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me?’” (Matt. 27:46, ceb).
Modern ears may find the words strange on the lips of Jesus. Psalm or not, it is still a bit disturbing to overhear Jesus’ gut-wrenching question shouted toward the heavens. It doesn’t sound like Jesus. We easily imagine the power of his voice, the thunder of his commands. We like to hear about the power—not the uncertainty, the doubt, and the sense of abandonment. It sounds too much like . . . well, too much like us. And perhaps therein lies the point. If we learn to pray this other type of “Jesus prayer” in moments of grief and despair, we may be empowered to move from the inexplicable pain expressed in this opening line toward the faintly growing ember of hoped-for deliverance and trust that this prayer slowly travels toward: “But you, Lord! Don’t be far away! You are my strength! Come quick and help me!” (22:19, ceb).

O Lord, my rock and my refuge, even though I walk through the darkest valley I pray that you will hear my cries and come quickly to help me. Even in places of pain and doubt, I will trust you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 10:17-31

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Lectionary Week
October 8–14, 2018
Scripture Overview

Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist, traditionally identified as David, also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between God and us if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
• Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
• Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
• Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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