As a young person, I carried a Bible with a list of scripture references, many of them from the Psalms, carefully Scotch-taped inside the cover. Each was a promise, or an encouragement, or a word of hope for a variety of everyday struggles: when you feel afraid, when you are lonely, when you are tempted, when you are sad. I thought of that list as I was reading the Psalms in preparation for this month of devotions, and I remembered that though I may not personally be afraid, or lonely, or tempted, or sad (or anything!), there are countless people in the world who ARE. And many of them may be so terribly afraid, or lonely, or tempted, or sad, or anything, that they cannot even shape words into prayer.
Together, as the community of faith, we can claim the promises of God and pray on behalf of those who have no words.
Praying Psalm 29 for Those who Live in Silence
Yahweh’s voice over the waters, the God of glory thunders; Yahweh over countless waters, Yahweh’s voice in power, Yahweh’s voice in splendor…–Psalm 29:3-4, NJB
Life can be so loud.
The media is loud. (Social media can be intensely loud.) Childraising is loud. So are church business meetings, sometimes. Often even our worship is loud.
Underneath all the noise, though, there are those who live in a well of silence. They may endure icy relationships with unspoken hurts and angers. They may keep the peace by keeping quiet. They may stifle their callings, their dreams, their own truest selves, because they know those around them cannot–or will not–bear to hear. They may keep their hands over their own ears so they can drown out the worst news, the hateful words, the shaming accusations.
The God who whispered to Elijah set all creation in motion with a word. That same voice, according to the Psalm, shatters cedars, carves out lightning bolts, convulses the desert, strips forests bare.
In the void, God speaks. Above the world’s noise, God thunders. Where the silence is at its most bitter, the whispering wind of God warms.
God, speaker of creation,
keep your promise of power
in the lives of those who live in unwanted
and unwarranted silence.
Let them hear your voice
however they can:
in small murmurings, in clear callings,
in shattering glory.
Let them find their own voices,
strong and true,
within the strength and truth
that is yours.
With the Psalmist we pray for all who live in silence:
let your voice roll over them like the waters (v. 3).
Let the syllables of your power
embolden and energize them (v. 6).
Let them see the works of your words (v. 7-9)
and be inspired to join in partnership with you,
crafting songs and speeches, poems and praises,
all manner of creations in which their own true voices
may be heard.
Let them feel the power of your thundering, (v. 3)
as well as the comfort of your whispered breath.
And until they are able,
let us speak up for them.
Give us the grace to make space in our noisy lives
for those who cannot yet form words,
who may not willingly jump into the fray.
Give us the patience to wait for them, and to listen to them,
so that at last we may join our voices with theirs
in praise to you.