Psalm 86

I have found that I enjoy memorizing favorite bits of psalms, so that I will always have them with me for scattered bits of time to seize for a short prayer.  At work, while driving, at any quiet moment during the day when having a prayer book handy just doesn’t happen.  Lately I have been working on Psalm 86, verses 11 through 13.  It starts out like this:

Teach me, Lord, your way

that I may walk in your truth,

single-hearted and revering your name.

I reflected on the first line, and realized that I actually already have been taught God’s way, in the sense that I know the Commandments, have read the Gospels, know the words of Jesus.  I’ve been taught them well.  But at the same time, I absorbed the idea of the importance and primacy, of the intellect and will.  After all, emotions just happen, out of our control, a wash of chemicals in the brain.  It’s what we do about them that counts, the feelings can be disregarded.  That is what I have been told.  But that is not entirely true, at least not for me.

Yes, emotions do just happen, but boy, do they matter in the depth and sincerity of our response and the lovingness in our souls.   Walking in the Lord’s truth is more than just an act of will for me, if I am to be single-hearted, I need to feel it as well.  I suspect that we all do.  For that, I need rely on God’s grace.   It is not my brain that needs to be taught His way, but my heart that needs the teaching and conversion.  For that transformation of my soul, I pray daily, with trust that I am heard.

I will praise you with all my heart, 

glorify your name forever, Lord my God.

Your love for me is great;

you have rescued me from the depths.


About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
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6 Responses to Psalm 86

  1. SR says:

    Wonderful post Reinkat. I agree with you in saying, “our emotions matter.” For myself, they get in the way a lot and I truly think at times blind me to what God is trying to show me and do for me. Especially if they are emotions of anger or resentment. These emotions are hard for me to let go of at times. As I thought of this post, a lot of times when I am in these emotions, I will still do the right thing, but for all the wrong reasons, if that makes sense. In other words, I may do something good for that person because I “have to” as a Christian, and maybe even resenting being a Christian at those moments. As I think about it, do I resent God at those moments for thinking “because of Him I HAVE to do this?” Good thought for me to ponder about myself.

    That is where the “conversion of the heart” regarding His teachings needs to come into play. When our hearts are “converted to His teachings,” then we will do what we must do out of “love.” In saying that, “love” is an emotion in and of itself. It is the right one though and should be the reason for all we do. Love for God and love for others.

    If that is not the reason for all we do, then in actuality there will be no benefit for our souls. Our souls will become so dry. I think this post helped me in seeing one of the reasons we become “dark in the soul.” It is what we open up in ourselves to learn the teachings of God. The “mind” or the “heart.”

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post. God Bless, SR

    • reinkat says:

      Thanks, SR, for your own thoughtful, thought-provoking words. I had not thought of the resenting God for having to do something, even when I felt the opposite . . . hmmm. Very good point. Thank you so much for bringing this up. I, too, am pondering about it, and have to say that it is sometimes true.

  2. You have clearly expressed the value of selecting a phrase from a favorite psalm or Bible passage and then reflecting on it for more than just an instant or few minutes. This prayer method allows us to chew on and digest the Revelation of God thereby truly being nourished by the Word. Also, I am not sure about the advice you were given about “feelings don’t matter.” Sure they matter! They are a revelation to your mind on how you are perceiving and responding to your personal relationships and environment. They are part of the indicators that make us human.

  3. reinkat says:

    Thanks for your comment. I have to say that I have heard emotions and feelings being glossed over from more than one source, including within the church. Doing the right thing no matter how you feel about it. The transience of feelings, and so on. But I like the way you put it, that they are actually a revelation to your mind. Thanks for input, and further things to think about as I pray this psalm.

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