A VOCABULARY FOR PRAYER
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” (Psa. 34:1).
Read Luke 1:46–56
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat is your favorite praise song? Why?
The American pastor and author Eugene Peterson writes, “Scripture without prayer has no soul; prayer without Scripture has no substance” (Kingfisher’s Fire, 93). One of the things that strikes me about Mary’s joyful outburst here is how biblically resonant it is. She has a vocabulary for prayer garnered from ancient texts—texts she has clearly absorbed to the extent that when she opens her mouth to express extreme emotion, out comes the Bible.
The book of 1 Samuel begins with the story of Hannah. Hannah is childless and it is destroying her. Year after year she comes to the Temple to plead with God, and eventually she conceives and gives birth to a child, Samuel. Samuel’s birth signifies a huge reversal of fortunes for Hannah, who was in a polygamous marriage as the only childless wife.
Hannah’s story and Mary’s are different in many ways, but both women were humble, God-fearing and wide-eyed with wonder at God’s intervention in their lives. And Hannah’s words help Mary find expression for what is happening to her: “My heart rejoices in the Lord. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust… he seats them with princes” (1 Sam. 2:1–10).
Write a song of praise for something you are truly thankful for—or just because of how wonderful our God is!
Use Mary’s song as a basis for your prayers today.