Since entering the seminary and incorporating the Liturgy of the Hours into my spiritual life I’ve begun to realize how essential the psalms are for prayer. One of my favorites is Psalm 92 – the following is a small excerpt from it: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your truth in the watches of the night, on the ten-stringed lyre and the lute, with the murmuring sound of the harp. Your deeds, O Lord, have made me glad; for the work of your hands I shout with joy. O Lord, how great are your works! How deep are your designs!” For about a year now I’ve been moved by those words. I think the psalmist’s expression of gratitude toward God for his deeds teaches us an important lesson: when our eyes are opened to the depth of God’s designs we ought to give him thanks and proclaim the greatness of his love.
I’d like to say a few short words about remembering the deeds of God in our own lives. Remembering his actions and cultivating a sense of gratitude toward him will help us trust in the guidance and protection of his powerful right hand. Developing this type of “memory prayer” is one of the most important aspects of our spiritual life.
I’m still relatively new to the spiritual life and that’s a bold claim, but I do think it’s safe to say that our memory is one of the most important aspects of it. Over the course of the past five months my prayer has largely consisted of discussing with God the memories I have of my life. This has been particularly important for addressing the wounds and imperfections I currently struggle with. Praying through different moments of my life that may have caused or aggravated those wounds has really helped me understand their origins and therefore given me insights about how to deal with them now.
Seeing and understanding the wounds that are present in my life has certainly been beneficial. This isn’t enough, though. An even more enriching experience has been diving into the memories I have of my conversion, which has actually led me to call it an invasion, rather than a conversion. It has been absolutely fascinating to probe the depths of the experiences that led to a particular moment when God invaded my soul with his grace. I’ve always had a vague knowledge of some of the major markers along the path toward this invasion, but praying through it in depth has opened up new territory that I never knew existed, such as the powerful influence the Word of God had on me, or the impact of the intercession of the saints. These new avenues for prayer have led me to praise God for his wonderful deeds and trust him in the present moment because I’ve been able to glimpse how he has always acted in my life, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
I want to close by directing your attention not to the different aspects of God’s invasion in my life, but to encourage you to truly consider investing your time in praying through your memories. This is an invaluable spiritual practice that has serious potential for developing an understanding of the self and how God has been and wants to continue acting in one’s life. The Israelites, who prayed those very same psalms, found great confidence in trusting that God does not change: he will act the same now as he has in the past. It’s the same for each of us. We are his children and he wants us to know ourselves as he knows us, and know him in such a way that allows us to trust him and live a life of freedom within his love.