But I trust in your unfailing love.
Prayer is an act of trust. More specifically, it is an act of trusting God’s unfailing love. Trust is the act of relying on something or someone. When we take the risk of crossing the river by driving over a bridge, we are trusting the bridge to do what it promises to do. We trust the bridge to assist us, to support us, to be there for us. In the same way, to pray is to trust that God will be faithful to God’s promises to lovingly care for us and to be with us.
This does not mean that we have to try to conjure up great faith in order to pray. It does not mean we need to pretend to trust when we are in the throws of despair or doubt. It does not mean that we should force ourselves to trust when our capacity to trust seems broken.
The reality is that many of us have a weakened–or even broken–capacity to trust. We may have been significantly hurt or disappointed in close relationships in the past. As a result, we may find it difficult to trust others or God. The possibility of “unfailing love,” even of God’s unfailing love, may seem like something that is too much to hope for.
So, how can we pray if to pray is to trust and our capacity to trust is weak or broken? Jesus taught his followers that if they had faith as small as a tiny mustard seed, they could move mountains. Perhaps we can think of prayer, then, as an act of taking the tiny mustard seed of faith that we have been given and planting it in the soil of God’s faithful love, even as we are honest about our doubts and fears.
In this way, prayer is an act of turning to the One who claims to be the God of loving kindness, and engaging honestly with God–even when our capacity for trust is small. This means that there will be times that our relationship with God will be from a place of doubt or protest. Psalm 13 is just this kind of engagement with God. Most of the psalm is a lament. The Psalmist asks God: “How long will you forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?” It is only at the end of the Psalm that the psalmist says, “But I trust in your unfailing love.”
The psalmist pours out his honest lament. It is this honesty that opens the way for the psalmist to remember and trust God’s unfailing love. In fact, the lament itself is an act of trusting God’s unfailing love. It is a cry of longing for God, of needing God, of feeling separated from God. The cry itself is a mustard seed of hope that, in spite of how things appear, God may be lovingly present through it all.
When we pray we are using the mustard seed of faith we have been given. We are opening ourselves up in some measure to the God who hears and sees and cares about us with intimate, tender, unfailing love. We are trusting, even if in the smallest way, that no matter what our circumstances, in spite of our fears and doubts, that God is with us, enfolding us in Love that is unshakeable.
Sometimes my trust
in your unfailing love
is as small as the smallest seed.
Sometimes I am afraid that you do not love me,
that you are disappointed with me,
that you are impossible to please,
that you are not there for me.
And when life is hard
I sometimes find it difficult to trust that you are with me
and that your love for me is unshakable.
In turning to you today,
I am planting my small seed of faith.
May my trust in your unfailing love
take root and grow.
May I be able one day to fully trust
in your unfailing love.
As you breathe deeply and easily, let yourself sense God’s tender, faithful love enfolding you. Plant your mustard seed of trust in God’s unfailing love by telling God your fears, your needs, your doubts, your longings. Then allow yourself to rest quietly in the presence of God’s love.