Blessed are you O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever.
My first reaction after seeing the verses for today was to marvel at the strangeness of the Tobit story. Actually, I didn’t even get to the other verses before pulling out a bible to see how the story ends (yes, they live through the night). As I read the Tobit passage again after reading the other readings, I was struck by the wisdom in Tobiah’s prayer. His prayer models important lessons from the other two readings, namely the importance of love of God and one another and the importance of reverent reliance on God alone.
Tobiah’s prayer fits lessons on prayer throughout the scriptures. It emphasizes praise and thanksgiving first and foremost. It communicates the person’s understanding of how God’s promises, instructions or past faithfulness apply to the situation—drawing attention to the person’s best understanding of God’s agenda for the decision or event. In this case, the prayer also clarifies a Godly intent for an interpersonal human relationship. The actual petition for safety is only a small part of the prayer and it comes at the end—after taking time to praise God, to talk through possible applications of instructions or wisdom already gained, and to lay out his personal commitment. The priorities of the prayer are a right relationship with God and one another with the petition for safety then clearly following from these priorities. Consider how this model fits with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples on how to pray and with scriptural accounts of Jesus’ own prayers.
The prayer also models two important loving behaviors, praise for another and caring about another’s priorities. Many of us would no doubt benefit from an effort to instill more of this into our communication with God and our communication with one another. Can we focus today on praising God and affirming one another? Can we take some time to consider what we already know about important priorities revealed by God and how those priorities could shape our decisions and actions today? Can we pay attention to the priorities of a family member or co-worker in some way today? Can we be attentive to ways that we fear people or things that keep us from loving God with our whole selves and loving our neighbors as ourselves? While I doubt that any of us will face a bridegroom devouring demon like Tobiah, practice in praiseful prayer and loving communication may help us to face our own challenges in ways that deepen our love and glorify God.
Blessed are you O God of our fathers, praised be your name
forever and ever.
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