Psalm 63 : A Prayer of Longing for God
Sometimes we feel separated from God. During these times we may feel much like small children feel when they are separated from their parents—frightened, angry. And we may experience an intense longing for our Parent to return. Many things can create this sense of separation from God. It might come as a result of a loss or crisis in our lives which leaves us feeling forgotten or uncared for by God. It might come during a time of personal sin or failure when we struggle with fear that God might condemn or reject us. It might come, as it did for this psalmist, as a result of being removed from our community of faith. Whatever the reason, a sense of separation from God can generate life's deepest pain, that of an intense longing for God. This psalm helps us express our longing for God in times when we feel separated from him.
Warming Up to God
Think of a time when you felt especially close to God. What was the experience like for you?
Discovering the Word
- The psalmist describes his experience of longing for God in verse 1 with the strong physical metaphor of being thirsty in a desert with no sign of water. What does this image convey?
- In verses 2 and 3 the psalmist describes how in the past he experienced God's presence. What did he experience of God?
- Because of his longing for connection with God, the psalmist says he will seek God, he will remember God and he will cling to God. The first action he takes is to earnestly seek God. What does it mean to seek God?
- The second action he takes is "remembering." Where, when, what and how does the psalmist say he "remembers" God?
- The third action he describes is "clinging." In verse 8 he describes how he clings to God and how God holds him. What is your response to the image of clinging to God?
Applying the Word
- Verse 1 describes a soul which is thirsty, with no chance of finding water. In stark contrast, verse 5 describes a soul which is satisfied with the richest of foods. These pictures contrast the experience of being separated from God and the experience of being close to God. What words or images would you use to describe times when you have felt separated from God?
- What words or images would you use to describe times when you felt close to God?
- As you think about the actions of seeking, remembering and clinging to God, which of these most closely describes what would be most helpful to you at this time? Explain.
Responding in Prayer
Talk to God about your longing for him and your sense of deep satisfaction and joy in his presence.