Praying the Psalms | Letting the Psalms Pray You
In my adult life I’ve been advised on more than one occasion to ‘Pray the Psalms’. Usually there was no further instruction, and as I usually have quite a few questions I found myself flummoxed by this. Some of these same folks would also advise that I read a Proverb chapter a day as a way to ward off the possibility of temptation or sin, and I had some difficulty matching the two realities; Psalms, often laments, with Proverbs, often declarations of behavior.
Then I came to know the writings of Eugene Peterson. The humility which dominates Petersons’ writings began to reveal the Psalms to me in a completely unexpected way. No longer were the weapons for me to add to my arsenal in my attempt to keep God on my side, but rather they were revelations of myself through the cry of those who have gone before. The communion of saints if you will.
So, I’m starting out here to pray the Psalms. However, I will warn you that if you attempt this you will often find that the Psalms are really praying for you, around you, and over you. They reveal so much of our desires, hopes, fears, and obstacles and allow us to focus on God and his steadfast faithfulness.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of the mockers, but whose delights is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it’s fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.
God I need a better understanding of what it means to be blessed. I think in terms of money, power, and prestige, and this confuses me when I read this because things don’t look the way I expect. Full confession; I often act selfish in that I choose what I want and my wife over others, even you; and this is sin for I miss the opportunity to live the way you have created me to live. And, I really struggle with not sitting in the seat of the mockers – it seems like when I focus on myself that I know so much more than anyone else.
I need your help to focus on your law; to love God and to love others. I forget this and go about looking for ways to make myself greater. I find myself often unwilling to slowly grow and I go back to defining fruit as those tangible things that appear for a moment to make me happy.
I confess a need to learn to wait and trust in you. To allow your truth; your love for all of us, to water and shape my life. Help me give birth to fruit that looks like care for people. Help me understand prosperity as you understand prosperity. To know that Jesus’ forgiveness of others is something that I too can extend to others is what I can look forward to as a reward for serving you.
Not so the wicked! They are like the chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
I see this. I know this. And yet I struggle. At times I could care less about the fact that those who are selfish expend all of their energy chasing one whim after another. Rather I want to see them struggle as I struggle. Your assurance that what we do from your law; love of you and love of others, will last. I pledge myself to that. You remind me that those things I do in and for myself will not allow me entrance to where you hold your eternal court. I commit myself to knowing and searching you. Keep me from the path of destruction which is fueled by selfishness and fear. Lead me in the path of righteousness which is found in service and in love.