My daily prayers take me through various sources. Ransomed Heart’s Daily Prayer is one of them. The Celtic Daily Office is another. I do the Celtic Daily Office’s morning prayer about once a week, and I do it’s midday prayer more often (it is the only midday prayer I know). One thing I just noticed about these two prayers from this one office is that they both mention “the beauty of the Lord”. The morning prayer references Psalm 24:7 (“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”) and the midday prayer references Psalm 90:17 (“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”).
And there were a couple of things about this that struck me recently. One is that the Lord is beautiful. Honestly, that’s not the first term I would use to describe the Lord. I would use “existing”; He just is. Or might; He’s all-powerful. I might go to intelligent/wise or even good. Those are the ways I typically think of the Lord and the order in which I typically think of them. He’s the Lord, the Creator, the Designer, the Author, the Great Mathematician, the Engineer, the First Cause, etc. But these verses are saying something more than that. They are saying He is beautiful: lovely, desirable. And they are not the only ones. The church which uses our building in the evenings often sings this song which likewise calls God beautiful.
The second thing which struck me here is that the psalmists wanted this beauty. They wanted this beauty to be among them, to have it present to them so they could enjoy it. Again, I don’t think that’s what most people want from God. They want God’s power to accomplish whatever they want accomplished. They want God’s favor to give them whatever they want ( and yes, some translations have beauty as favor in Psalm 90:17). They want God’s benefits, or God’s forgiveness, or God’s righteousness, or God’s reward. Some want God’s apathy; they just want God to leave them alone and keep His distance. These psalmists, though, wanted His beauty. They wanted access to His beauty. They wanted (I’m assuming, reading into their words what I think is meant to be read into their word) to feel His beauty and to be fueled by His beauty.
This is changing how I see God and what I want from God. I see Him now as beautiful. I think I always did see Him that way to some degree, but I really see Him that way now. I see Him not only as beautiful but as the greatest of all beautiful things, as more beautiful than the beauties I have lusted over and longed for in the past, a real, honest, lasting beauty that is beyond lust and use. And I find myself wanting that beauty, wanting it more than anything I’ve ever wanted before. Wanting it and, through the practice of prayer, receiving it.
I believe God wants me changed in this way, and through these prayers I am changing that way. Through these prayers I am seeing and desiring the beauty of the Lord.