August 23rd – Praying the Psalms



The Jewish people for over a thousand years taught the world to pray. Why, when even well-educated, cultured peoples prayed to their idols, the Jews knew much better that the one true God was invisible to human eyes and no image of him was possible, for nothing in all creation could convey the person of God:His Holiness: His Justice: His Almightiness: His Kindness and His Personality.
The people of Israel got many things wrong, but they were the world leaders in prayer and worship.The Book of Psalms is the world’s greatest hymn book, and also the greatest prayer book and it is also the greatest worship book for congregations and individuals ever written.Our Deepest Christian scholars all say that if you want to learn to pray, pray the Psalms.For one thing the Psalms are so honest.They give voice to some things we would consider to be too primitive for us to bring to God. They didn’t believe that they had to clean up their act first before coming to God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me? …O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Psalm 22:1-2
Those words, which became so important to Christians after Jesus had gasped them in his agony on the cross. That cry of dereliction, instead of being a scandal to Christians, led them instead to the very heart of that mystery called the atonement. Now feel the heartbreak in this: If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship …Psalm 55: 12-14a
Here is the beginning of another Psalm, teaching us how to come before God, and approach the God who made us and who loves us.
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3
A Prayer pointer:
Lord, teach us to pray like that, with you at the centre of all we are.
Now pray Psalm 4 as finding the secret of peace.

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Thought 4 The Day

A Prayer by George Herbert 1593: O God thou hast given so much to us, give one thing more, a grateful heart; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen

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