A Prayer for Cleansing
51 1 Generous in love - God, give grace! Huge in mercy - wipe out my bad record. 2 Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. 3 I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down. 4 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. 5 I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. 6 What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life. 8 Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing. 9 Don't look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health. 10 God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. 11 Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. 12 Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails! 13 Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
14 Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways. 15 Unbutton my lips, dear God; I'll let loose with your praise. 16 Going through the motions doesn't please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. 17 I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice. 18 Make Zion the place you delight in, repair Jerusalem's broken-down walls. 19 Then you'll get real worship from us, acts of worship small and large, Including all the bulls they can heave onto your altar!
The Futility of Boastful Wickedness
52 1 Why do you brag of evil, "Big Man"? God's mercy carries the day. 2 You scheme catastrophe; your tongue cuts razor-sharp, artisan in lies. 3 You love evil more than good, you call black white. 4 You love malicious gossip, you foul-mouth. 5 God will tear you limb from limb, sweep you up and throw you out, Pull you up by the roots from the land of life.
6 Good people will watch and worship. They'll laugh in relief: 7 "Big Man bet on the wrong horse, trusted in big money, made his living from catastrophe." 8 And I'm an olive tree, growing green in God's house. I trusted in the generous mercy of God then and now. 9 I thank you always that you went into action. And I'll stay right here, your good name my hope, in company with your faithful friends.
The Folly and Wickedness of Men
53 1 Bilious and bloated, they gas, "God is gone." It's poison gas - they foul themselves, they poison Rivers and skies; thistles are their cash crop. 2 God sticks his head out of heaven. He looks around. He's looking for someone not stupid - one man, even, God-expectant, just one God-ready woman. 3 He comes up empty. A string of zeros. Useless, unshepherded Sheep, taking turns pretending to be Shepherd. The ninety and nine follow the one. 4 Don't they know anything, all these impostors? Don't they know they can't get away with this, Treating people like a fast-food meal over which they're too busy to pray? 5 Night is coming for them, and nightmare - a nightmare they'll never wake up from. God will make hash of these squatters, send them packing for good. 6 Is there anyone around to save Israel? God turns life around. Turned-around Jacob skips rope, turned-around Israel sings laughter.
A Prayer for Protection from Enemies
54 1 God, for your sake, help me! Use your influence to clear me. 2 Listen, God - I'm desperate. Don't be too busy to hear me. 3 Outlaws are out to get me, hit men are trying to kill me. Nothing will stop them; God means nothing to them.
4 Oh, look! God's right here helping! God's on my side, 5 Evil is looping back on my enemies. Don't let up! Finish them off! 6 I'm ready now to worship, so ready. I thank you, God - you're so good. 7 You got me out of every scrape, and I saw my enemies get it.
A Prayer for the Destruction of the Deceitful
55 1 Open your ears, God, to my prayer; don't pretend you don't hear me knocking. 2 Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you. 3 at the mean voice, quail before the evil eye, As they pile on the guilt, stockpile angry slander. 4 My insides are turned inside out; specters of death have me down. 5 I shake with fear, I shudder from head to foot. 6 "Who will give me wings," I ask - "wings like a dove?" Get me out of here on dove wings; 7 I want some peace and quiet. I want a walk in the country, 8 I want a cabin in the woods. I'm desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather.
9 Come down hard, Lord - slit their tongues. I'm appalled how they've split the city Into rival gangs prowling the alleys 10 Day and night spoiling for a fight, trash piled in the streets, 11 Even shopkeepers gouging and cheating in broad daylight. 12 This isn't the neighborhood bully mocking me - I could take that. This isn't a foreign devil spitting invective - I could tune that out. 13 It's you! We grew up together! You! My best friend! 14 Those long hours of leisure as we walked arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation. 15 Haul my betrayers off alive to hell - let them experience the horror, let them feel every desolate detail of a damned life.
16 I call to God; God will help me. 17 At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs - he hears, he rescues. 18 My life is well and whole, secure in the middle of danger Even while thousands are lined up against me. 19 God hears it all, and from his judge's bench puts them in their place. But, set in their ways, they won't change; they pay him no mind. 20 And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends; his life betrayed his word. 21 All my life I've been charmed by his speech, never dreaming he'd turn on me. His words, which were music to my ears, turned to daggers in my heart. 22 Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - he'll carry your load, he'll help you out. He'll never let good people topple into ruin. 23 But you, God, will throw the others into a muddy bog, Cut the lifespan of assassins and traitors in half. And I trust in you.
A Prayer of Trust
56 1 Take my side, God - I'm getting kicked around, stomped on every day. 2 Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up. 3 When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. 4 I'm proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God. What can mere mortals do? 5 They don't let up - they smear my reputation and huddle to plot my collapse. 6 They gang up, sneak together through the alleys To take me by surprise, wait their chance to get me. 7 Pay them back in evil! Get angry, God! Down with these people!
8 You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book. 9 If my enemies run away, turn tail when I yell at them, Then I'll know that God is on my side. 10 I'm proud to praise God, proud to praise God. 11 Fearless now, I trust in God; what can mere mortals do to me? 12 God, you did everything you promised, and I'm thanking you with all my heart. 13 You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.
A Prayer for Rescue from Persecutors
57 1 Be good to me, God - and now! I've run to you for dear life. I'm hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over. 2 I call out to High God, the God who holds me together. 3 He sends orders from heaven and saves me, he humiliates those who kick me around. God delivers generous love, he makes good on his word. 4 I find myself in a pride of lions who are wild for a taste of human flesh; Their teeth are lances and arrows, their tongues are sharp daggers. 5 Soar high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory! 6 They booby trapped my path; I thought I was dead and done for. They dug a mantrap to catch me, and fell in headlong themselves.
7 I'm ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe, Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune: 8 "Wake up, soul! Wake up, harp! wake up, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!" 9 I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets, singing your praises in town and country. 10 The deeper your love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness. 11 Soar high in the skies, O God! Cover the whole earth with your glory!