Throughout the ages, the Psalms have been the bedrock of Christian worship, both for individuals and the gathered community. The Psalms provide us with a range of emotional responses to God and our environment, as well as teaching us how to pray. Above all else, the Psalms are breathed out by the Spirit of God, so they reveal to us, as Ray Van Neste says, “how great, wonderful, magnificent, wise, and utterly awe-inspiring” God is! In the Psalms, God is inviting us into conversation with him and that is such a rich blessing for us.
So we are going to take a journey over the next five weeks of praying some of the Psalms together. This is not simply a reading plan, but an avenue to soak in the beauty of God’s word and spend time with the Lord. Since there are many different types of Psalms, each week is going to focus on one particular Psalm that represents that genre. So for the 5 weeks, we’ll be praying and reflecting on the genres of Hymn, Lament, Thanksgiving, Kingship, and Remembrance. For example, in week 3 we will be reading and praying Psalm 13, which is a psalm of lament. Each of the five weeks will have a short meditation on each psalm, but the hope is that we spend time throughout the week praying and reflecting on the words of the psalm, allowing ourselves space to listen to the Lord and to have the words of Scripture on our hearts as we pray throughout the day.
As we focus on a particular psalm each week, I wanted to give you some guidelines for praying with Scripture. Keep in mind this is different from Bible study. You may want to set aside 10 minutes or so during the day to give yourself space to listen and reflect. Though there are countless ways to engage in this activity, here are a few suggestions to help get you started:
- Begin by quieting your heart. Take some deep breaths and focus on trying to slow down the busyness of your mind and heart. In the short words of Psalm 40: Be still.
- Acknowledge that God is present with you and take a few moments and rest in his presence.
- Read the Psalm slowly and prayerfully several times. Try to read the Psalm in its entirety a few times and allow the words to penetrate your heart. It may help to read it out loud also.
- If there are any phrases or words that jump out at you, follow where the Spirit may be leading you and spend some time in prayer. You may want to simply repeat a small portion of the psalm as you pray. Allow yourself some space to keep coming back to that thought throughout the day.