Wednesday, March 21, 2007

O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me.

I'm just not used to asking for help, I guess.

For the last year and some I've been involved in a lay order of (mostly) Christians, exploring that aspect of spirituality. Most of what the mailing list winds up being is prayer requests, and I'm careful to always take a moment to honour each request. I'm not entirely comfortable with the how of this yet, so I just think about each request for a bit, and hope that something good will happen. But despite the many upheavals I've gone through in the last year, it took almost running out of money (and a couple of well-meaning whacks upside the head from dear friends of mine) before I got around to asking for help for myself.

It's not (I hope) that I'm too proud to ask for help. I just tend to think that my problems aren't big enough, or that even if they are I haven't done enough to solve them on my own to be asking anyone else to put effort into it. So I don't ask.

I ran across the following prayer today, while reading an occult-related novel which some of you may be familiar with: "O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me." It's from Psalm 70:1, and it's presented as "an impregnable wall for all those struggling against the onslaught of demons, an impenetrable breastplate and the sturdiest of shields." I'm always interested in that sort of thing, have been for years, so I did a little bit of digging around to find out more.

I came upon an article advocating use of the psalm under any circumstance -- indeed, all the time, as a form of centering prayer. Use it when you're worried about finances, when you're sick or distracted, when you're tempted to do the wrong thing. Use it when you just got a raise, when you're watching a beautiful sunset, eating a lovely meal. Use it at all times.

And I just have a hard time with that. Not with the concept of thinking about God/dess at all times; I'm down with that. Where I find I have issue is with the thought of asking for help. "O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me." That's a request for help in my book, and yeah, I'm going through some tough times, but I'll make it more-or-less on my own; it's certainly not bad enough that I need to go bugging anyone to help me out.

I went looking for the whole of Psalm 70, in the hopes that it would put things in perspective for me:

Hasten, O God, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.
May those who seek my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.

May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
turn back because of their shame.

But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"Let God be exalted!"

Yet I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.
Still asking for help, as I read it. But also praising God/dess: "May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you". I can seek, I can rejoice, I can praise. But asking for help? I don't want to be a bother.

I don't know how to resolve this one.


Susan said...

I love this prayer. I belong to a Christian meditation group and we chant/sing this prayer before we sit. I used to think like you--that my problems were too small to bother God about, but I think now that God loves us as His children and wants to help us in any way, big or small. I know I can't do anything on my own without His help, so I am much more comfortable asking for help in all things.

Kate said...

I've gotten a lot better about thinking about things in that way in the couple of years since I posted this -- not saying I'm actually _good_ at it now, just a little less _bad_.

But I do pray for help on a fairly regular basis now, and I figure that's a step.