Day 1: Psalm 1
Day 2: Psalm 2
Day 3: Psalm 3
Day 4: Psalm 4
Day 5: Psalm 5
Questions for Reflection and Prayer
Pray through each of the elements of this psalm that...
- You can personally relate to most.
- Stir God-breathed desire in you
- Offer you a perspective that you don’t normally have
- Re-center your perspectives around God and His purposes
“Apprentice with Jesus.”
That’s a good summary of what it means to be a Christian.
Not, “Attend church.” Not, “Adhere to certain behavioural norms.” Not, “Assent to certain statements about God.”
Apprentice with Jesus. Engage in a lifelong journey with Jesus -- as our Mentor, our Rabbi, our Leader. And we as His learners.
Apprentice with Jesus, as the One who gives Life, as the One who makes sense of life, and as the One whose life we seek to imitate.
Apprenticing with Jesus begins with prayer. Often it begins with a prayer that is something like, “Jesus, help!” or “Jesus, I don’t want to live life on my own any longer.”
And this life of apprenticeship continues to grow through prayer, as we learn to relate every part of our lives to Jesus, and allow Him to speak into every part of our lives as our loving Master.
This month, as a church, our Sunday mornings will be focused on inspiring us with some new convictions for prayer. Not simply because we believe that prayer is a good thing, or something that good Christians should do. But because we believe that it is a life-line to the Lord of Life, and the way we cultivate our life with Him.
And as our Sunday morning services will seek to inspire us to pray, our Community Bible Reading will be leading us into prayer, as we pray through the Bible’s own prayer book, The Psalms. A great contemporary spiritual theologian, Eugene Peterson, has written many incredible reflections on the Psalms, including a devotional book called, “Praying with the Psalms.” Listen to what he writes in that book’s introduction:
Everyone prays – kind of. It’s our most human action. At the deep center of our lives, we are connected somehow or other with god. That deep center often gets buried under the everyday debris of routine and distraction and chatter, while we shuffle about out of touch and unaware of our true selves. Then a sudden jolt opens a crevasse, exposing for a moment our bedrock self: spontaneously we pray. We pray because it is our most human response. We’re made by and for the voice of God – listening to and answering that voice is our most characteristic act. We are most ourselves when we pray.
The jolt comes variously – a stab of pain, a rush of beauty, an encore of joy; we exclaim, “God!” The cry can be complaint or curse or praise, no matter, it’s prayer. When that deep, deep center of our lives is exposed – our core humanity, which biblical writers so vigorously designate as “heart” – we unthinkingly revert to our first language: we pray.
For some that’s the end of it, brief and random exclamations scattered haphazardly across a lifetime. But others of us, not content to be our true selves incidentally, hunt for ways to cultivate fluency. More often than not, the hunt turns up its quarry in the psalms.
David is the name most prominently associated with writing and praying the psalms. His life is the most extensively narrated we have in the scriptures. We know more about him than anyone else in our biblical records. We know about his growing up and his dying, his friends and his enemies, his sins and salvation, his triumphs and defeats. Nothing is held back or suppressed; the entire range of the human condition is laid out for us in the narration of David’s life. Alongside the story we are given his prayers, the inside of the story. For everything that happened in David’s life became prayer, became the occasion for listening to and answering God. Nothing in David’s life was left lying around on the surface; he took everything “to heart,” interiorized it, welcomed it in God’s name for God’s work.
That is why praying with David is the chief way we have of cultivating fluency in this our most human language. We get the first words out easily enough, but then sputter to a stop. We are alternately indolent and clumsy.
The psalms, more than anything else in the church’s life, are God’s provision for the people who find themselves in this condition, directing and shaping the prayers of Christians into fluency. They do not do our praying for us – they cannot be mechanized into a prayer wheel – but they get us praying when we don’t feel like it, and they train us in prayers that are honest and right. They are both encouragement to pray and patterns of prayer. They represent the experience of men and women who have prayed in every conceivable circumstance across thirty centuries. “The psalms acquire, for those who know how to enter into them, a surprising depth, a marvelous and inexhaustible actuality. They are bread, miraculously provided by Christ, to fee those who have followed Him into the wilderness” (Thomas Merton, Bread in the Wilderness, New York: New Directions, 1964, p. 3)...
The psalms are access to an environment in which God is the pivotal center of life, and in which all other people, events, or circumstances are third parties. Neither bane nor blessing distracts the psalmists for long from this center. They are not misled by demons of Size, Influence, Importance, or Power. They turn their backs on the gaudy pantheons of Canaan and Assyria and give themselves to personal intensities that become awe and intimacy before God. For such reasons, among people who want to pray, the psalms are God’s best gift.
(Eugene Peterson, Praying with the Psalms, New York: Harper Collins, 1989, p. 1-3)