By Julia Attaway, November 9, 2011
I’ve been praying my way through Psalm 37. Slowly. Very slowly. I begin to read and the first three words stop me in my tracks:
Do not fret …
Oh, dear. I guess I blew this one! Lord, help me not to fret. Help me not get caught up in my worries. I name each of the things I am anxious about, wrenching them forcibly from my heart and handing them over to God. A while later, I go back and return to reading the verse.
Do not fret because of those who are evil…
Oh dear, all over again! You mean … even that person who’s causing me so much distress? Deep sigh. Stop. Time to pray again. Lord, I bring before you _________, with whom I am so upset. Bless her, Lord, and make your face shine upon her. Give her your peace, your love, your mercy …
Eventually I head back to the beginning of the Psalm:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong
Ten minutes have passed, and now I have to deal with envy. Praying this Psalm is going to take a long time.
But that’s good. Slow prayer gives me time to set my soul straight, item by item. It highlights the obstacles to “a closer walk with Thee,” and keeps me from breezing past the problem areas in my heart.
Which isn’t to say that I like facing up to the ways my soul sometimes sputters when it faces God’s word. But I know that often the fastest spiritual growth comes from reading Scripture slowly, when I stop frequently to see how well my heart is aligned with the Word.