Author Topic: What Reality? The Psalms  (Read 2709 times)

Certain Hope

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What Reality? The Psalms
« on: April 29, 2008, 10:22:01 PM »

I get these regularly via email and they're always good. This one especially touched my heart and I wanted to share it.

What Reality are you Living In?

Christian Soul Care Devotional, by William Gaultiere, Ph.D.


The other day I was praying from the Psalms and came across some words that “turned the lights on” and “put wind in my sails” in the midst of a mundane day. Before I share with you the holy words that impacted me let me share some background…


Eight months ago I was inspired by Eugene Peterson to pray the Psalms every day and to make this practice the centerpiece of my daily rhythm of life with Jesus, immersing myself in “Psalms reality.” I pray Psalms in the morning, during the day, at night. I pray them while I’m sitting and while I’m walking, while I’m working and while I’m waiting. I sing them. I memorize them. I write poetry inspired by them. I pray them for myself and I pray them for others.


I pray five Psalms each day to go through the whole Psalter each month (Others may give two or more months to go through the Psalter). I pray the Psalms in the order that the ancient prayer masters laid out for us so that God (and not me!) is directing my prayers through the Psalmist and my spiritual diet is balanced with all the different types of prayer that are in the Psalms.


What happened? Why am I seeking to make the Psalms like the air I breathe? I came to appreciate that the Psalms are meant to be our prayer book. Since the time of David three thousand years ago God’s people have prayed whole Psalms everyday – until recent generations and now, sadly, it is only the monastics and a small number of other Christians who pray the Psalms regularly to grow in devotion.


The Psalms draw me to Jesus who fulfilled them – their many Messianic prophecies and their many expressions of the righteous life, like the tree planted by the stream of water in Psalm 1. Jesus learned to pray by going through Psalms every day. We see the fruit of Jesus’ psalmic prayers in that he constantly quoted from the Psalms and “The Lord’s Prayer” that he developed and passed on to us came from the Psalms.


The Apostles saw Jesus continually going off to quiet places to pray and they saw how profoundly it affected him – his intimacy with God as his Abba, his relaxed way of living in the midst of continual stress, his discernment for making decisions like when to leave one city full of needy people in order to go on to another, his astoundingly wise teaching, his deep compassion for the poor and needy, his miracles done in the power of God – and they pleaded with him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).


It was then that Jesus taught his disciples The Lord’s Prayer. This most widely used of all prayers in history is rarely understood. It is really the Psalms in miniature: each phrase of Jesus’ prayer is really a type of prayer that is offered many times in the Psalms. The Lord’s Prayer is meant to be our school of prayer. More than reciting it for 30 seconds in church we’d be wise periodically to meditate on it for 30 minutes or so, walking with Jesus down each of its prayer pathways by composing prayers for ourselves and others on each of its themes: worship, submission, petition, confession, overcoming trials, and thankfulness for being a part of his kingdom. (Praying the Lord’s Prayer regularly in this way is like a shorter way of praying the Psalms.)


If you’ve been reading the Christian Soul Care Devotionals then you know that the “one thing” I’m living for is to be Jesus’ disciple and to make disciples to Jesus. So when it comes to prayer I imagine myself with Peter, John, and the other original disciples, waiting eagerly for Jesus to return from his morning prayer time… I too fall at his feet and cry out, “Lord, teach me to pray!”


Truly. I’m desperate to learn how to keep continual communion with God as my Abba and to live not just in my own strength and wisdom but also in that of the Holy Spirit. It’s imperative for me to learn more and more how to live my life – in the midst of its blessings and trials – in Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden (Matthew 11:28-30). So I ask Jesus to be my Teacher, I pick up the Psalms as my manual, and I accept that my daily life is my classroom.


Back to the other day… I was dealing with administrivia and other mundane duties and was tempted to boredom and irrelevance when during a prayer break I came across these words in one of my Psalms for that day:

My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations (Psalm 102:11-12).


And the Lord spoke to my heart: Bill, what reality are you living in? Your fleeting physical life on earth and that alone? Or are you living in terms of the superseding reality of the kingdom of the heavens in which I, the Lord, am present with you? Open your eyes and see me at work in what you’re doing today. Take a hold of my hand and follow me. Together we’ll bring the rule of my glorious kingdom into your heart and through your life to those you touch.


Yes, Lord, give me and my friends reading these words now the eyes to see into the Psalmist’s reality of your kingdom in our midst. Show us, as you did Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 6:17), that even now we are surrounded by your glorious presence and the angels of heaven. Teach us to pray like the Psalmist! Teach us how to do all that we do with you and for you Jesus. As we train with you we can learn, little-by-little, more and more how to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Amen.