Beginning at sunset this Friday, June 12, our congregation will participate in a 24-hour period of continual prayer through the Book of Psalms. Together we will center our yearnings, hopes, and fears, our laments, and our remembrances of God’s past dealings in history in these prayers that have been offered for thousands of years in the Judeo-Christian heritage. From 8 PM Friday evening until 8 PM Saturday evening, at least one member of our congregation will commit to pray their assigned Psalms for thirty minutes. Obviously, others are welcome to join in at any time. In Walter Brueggemann’s study of the Psalms, he describes how the Psalms of Lament have helped God’s people move from Disorientation to New Orientation, from the depths of soul-crushing lamentation to thanksgiving and praise. If ever there was a time for lamentation, it is now.
I hope you will join in this event of prayer by signing up for your 30-minute prayer time below.- Michael Jinkins
How to Pray the Psalms
Praying, in distinction from reading, the Psalms is one of the oldest and most revered traditions in the church, practiced from the early church to this day. Those in the Episcopal tradition will know it as part of what they call “the daily office.” Here’s how it works: Instead of simply reading the Psalms as though we stand outside of it, we actually take the place of the psalmist and pray what is written. The words of the Psalms become our prayers, spoken to God.
This is a spiritually challenging exercise because although many psalms are prayers of thanksgiving and praise, others are laments, and some are prayers of violent wrath. The psalmist does not hesitate to call down God’s judgment against “enemies.” The speakers change in the psalms without warning: sometimes the psalmist, sometimes the voice of God, sometimes a kind of chorus.
Throughout this exercise there is a great lesson to be learned: we can take anything, absolutely anything, directly to God in prayer. There is no feeling, no experience that cannot be laid at God’s feet. God enfolds all we feel and believe and think into his grace, mercy and judgment.
(In case you’d like to learn more: Walter Brueggemann has written excellent books on the Psalms. And I’ve always ranked C. S. Lewis’s “Reflections on the Psalms” among his best books.) – Michael Jinkins