“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Psalms 54:2).
Dr. Nibley indicates that this type of prayer or “cry of distress” by David is similar in tone to the words of the Lord on the cross when He said, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; The Early Christian Prayer Circle, Mormonism and Early Christianity, 58-59). But this is not the only place this type of supplication is given. There are dozens of Psalms which begin the prayer with this same pattern, indicating what appears to be a “specific set of words that accompanied certain Hebrew prayers” (Matthew Brown, The Gate of Heaven, 149):
- Psalms 4:1 – “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness . . . hear my prayer.”
- Psalms 5:1 -“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.”
- Psalms 13:3 – “Consider and hear me, O Lord my God . . . “
- Psalms 17:1 – “Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.”
- Psalms 28:2 – “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.”
- Psalms 38:15 – “. . . thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.”
- Psalms 39:12 – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry . . . “
- Psalms 54:2 – “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.”
- Psalms 55:1 – “Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.”
- Psalms 61:1 – “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.”
- Psalms 64:1 – “Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer . . . “
- Psalms 69:13 – “. . . my prayer is unto thee, O Lord . . . O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me . . .”
- Psalms 77:1 – “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”
- Psalms 78:1 – “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.”
- Psalms 80:1 – “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel . . .”
- Psalms 84:8 – “O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob . . .”
- Psalms 86:1 – “Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me . . .”
- Psalms 86:6 – “Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.”
- Psalms 88:1-2 – “O Lord God . . . Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry . . .”
- Psalms 88:9 – ” . . . Lord, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.”
- Psalms 102:1-2 – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee . . . incline thine ear unto me . . .”
- Psalms 116:1-2 – “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.”
- Psalms 119:145, 149 – “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord . . . Hear my voice . . . “
- Psalms 119:169-170 – “Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord . . . Let my supplication come before thee . . .”
- Psalms 120:1 – “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.”
- Psalms 130:1-2 – “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.”
- Psalms 140:6 – “I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord.”
- Psalms 141:1-2 – “Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
- Psalms 143:1 – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications . . .”
Hugh Nibley informs us that the ancient patriarchs also prayed in a similar fashion:
When Abraham, according to an old and highly respected source, “rebuilt the altar of Adam in order to bring a sacrifice to the Eternal One,” as he had been instructed by an angel, he raised his voice in prayer, saying: “El, El, El! El Jaoel! [the last meaning Jehovah] . . . receive the words of my prayer! Receive the sacrifice which I have made at thy command! Have mercy, show me, teach me, give to thy servant the light and knowledge thou hast promised to send him!” Abraham was following the example of Adam, who prayed to God for three days, repeating three times the prayer: “May the words of my mouth be heard! God, do not withdraw thyself from my supplication! . . . Then an angel of the Lord came with a book, and comforted Adam and taught him.” When Adam and Eve found themselves cut off from the glory of the Lord, according to the intriguing Combat of Adam, they stood with upstretched hands calling upon the Lord, as “Adam began to pray in a language which is unintelligible to us.” The so-called Coptic Gnostic Writing purports to give us Adam’s words on the occasion as being composed of the elements lo-i-a and i-oy-el, meaning “God is with us forever and ever,” and “through the power of revelation.” (The Early Christian Prayer Circle, Mormonism and Early Christianity, 57-58)
Hey, Bryce. Great post!
I think we, as temple-going members of the Church, do not understand enough about our own rituals. It’s posts like yours, and authors like Nibley, that really make me go, “Wow. That is amazing!” and that really strengthen my testimony. And I don’t know if I would figure these things out on my own–probably not. I don’t think it is wrong to learn about your own rituals and their meaning and precedence. It’s the attitude that we can’t say anything about the temple outside of the temple that leaves most of the Church confused about the temple. It makes the temple seem like an oddity, something strange and unrelated to normal doctrine and practices. The whole point of sites like yours is to teach us that it is not an oddity or strange–it is the core of all doctrine and beliefs and its rituals reflect that. I am glad for people like you who are willing to dig deeper than most of us so that we can learn about our temple rituals and have our testimonies of its eternal nature strengthened.
Of course, there are lines we should not cross. But I reread your piece and I do not think you crossed any of them.
Wow. I find quite a few of what you point out in the psalms to be found in Catholic Mass and ceremony, from what I remember of it. For instance, we would always repeat after the Catholic priest uttered something, “Lord, hear our prayer.” Also, if I remember correctly, there would be times when that priest would raise up his hands. I read my little sister’s catholic religion book, and it encouraged people to pray to the Lord with arms raised to welcome the Spirit, or something to that effect.