(Psalm 84 sounds to me like a pastor in prayer. I hope these thoughts in recent weeks give your own prayer life a lift.) “O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!” (Ps 84:8) I’m sometimes jealous of Jacob, dear Lord. He laid his weary head and dreamed visions of your perfect presence, the angels ascending and descending from your throne, and in his dream you confirmed your covenant of grace, your promise of unending presence, your blessing upon him forever. No wonder he named that place “Bethel,” the house of God. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” You “gave ear” to your servant, Jacob. O God of Jacob, hear my prayer also. You are so near to me, O God, that I know you hear the longing of my heart. Forgive me for my forgetfulness of your attention to my every cry for help. And forgive me for trembling at the thought of your welcome into the throne room. The access that my Savior won for me is intimidating. I feel like the whimpering cowardly lion sometimes. Face to face with you, completely bare and without defense, it scares me. So teach me to pray boldly as I ought. Your dwelling place, this holy temple made of living stones is a great place for prayer. Give me faith to enjoy the comfort of your presence, to sit in the fellowship of the saints as if in the family room of a friend. And hear our prayers as we chat, as we pray to our Father. Hear me as I pray for them. Hear us as I pray with them. Teach us together to pray. Hear them as they pray for me. “Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!” (Ps 84:9) When you wrestled with him all night, Jacob called the place “Peniel” because he saw your face. I’ve seen your face in the countenance of Jesus as he gathered children to his lap, as he gazed across the crowds in compassion, as he glanced at Peter in the firelight, as blood flowed across his brow, as he spread his hands to the startled disciples and offered the blessing of peace. But I’d still be frightened if you looked me in the face. Hide me in the cleft of the rock as I whisper my prayers. Look on the face of my Shield, the Anointed One, my King, and for his sake, have mercy on me. Then I’ll find the confidence to call upon you with every “Lord, have mercy” that sustains me throughout the day, with every, “Did you see that!” that I know you saw, because you made it happen, with every “Please, God…” that comes too quickly to my heart each day, and with every “Thank you, God…” that comes too infrequently. This invitation to live in your house and speak with you through the day – and in the night – amazes me. Give me ear, O God, and teach me to pray. “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” (Next week, Psalm 84:10-12) Do you serve on a professional church worker conference planning committee? Our staff has vast experience leading groups of all sizes from every church work background through innovative wellness programs custom designed to meet your needs. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman today to begin exploring the possibilities or visit our website to see some of our ideas for your conference!