Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
There’s a lot of dissatisfied longing in those two letters: Oh. The religious life involves some emotional pain that appears to a society frivolous and spiritually sleepy a little contrived, or at least unnecessary. Oh is a noise let out when one has come up to a true vision: a perception of self alongside some clarity about God. Reaching that insight requires some quiet and alertness; and let’s admit: neither of those are that common.
Are these two lines forming a request, or simply giving voice to the psalmist’s longing? In either case, they’re a good example of consciously speaking before God, that is, heartfelt prayer.
What he longs for is that his “ways” would move toward obedience. The heart of the struggle doesn’t lie in doing or not doing a single thing; but rather in adopting a series of habits that would end in charges kept and duties fulfilled.
Negative example: There is the discrete instance of one evening turning on the computer and viewing pornography. But frequently leading up to that single action was an entire way of life: inactivity, unwise eating, willing or thoughtless exposure to lesser titillation, prayerlessness, lack of order, regularly imbibing some kind of superficiality, not accessing the thoughts of the wise, etc etc.
Positive example: There is a single, singular paper published in Seminars of Nephrology. Of course the path leading up to that accomplishment is marked by habits: working through periods of drowsiness, honestly assessing and rejecting a lot of data, staying physically fit, staying current with other’s research, ignoring the minute to minute sirens to attend to social media, etc, etc.
We want not only momentary, isolated, “fits of” successful obedience. Even more we want our entire thinking and eating and spending and saving and socializing and working and everything to together consent to God’s laws. We want all the details of our lives to make sense in light of the big picture of God’s revelation.