Friendship takes time, and as Dr. Kalas reminds us in Chapter 3 of Longing to Pray, the divine friendship is no exception. It’s a matter of recognizing how much God longs for unhurried prayer, and how much we need it.
“We want to pray, and we know we should, but there’s work to be done, there are telephone calls to be made, and there is email to be answered. Or even less nobly, there is a sports section to be read, or a soap opera to be watched, or a news special to attend to. Who has time to pray? And to this the ancient poet says, You do, and I do.”
The psalmists don’t lecture us about making time for prayer… they don’t tell us to sit in prayer for a certain number of hours or to say a certain number of words. What they do, Dr. Kalas says, is subtly show us through the structure of Hebrew poetry what unhurried prayer looks like. “The psalms simply make it impossible for us to hurry by forcing us to repeat ourselves; and the peculiar nature of the repeating compels us to think, even as we repeat what we have just said.”
Read Psalm 1 slowly, maybe even in two or three different translations. Look for the subtle repetitions – these are not empty phrases mindlessly repeated. They are the psalmist’s multiple attempts to capture exactly what he wants to say to God. His words to his King are worth the time and effort.
Psalm 1 (ESV)
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.