Week Five: Praying the Psalms

It has been such a comfort for us Brothers, in these unsettled and tense days, to maintain our practice of praying the Psalms in the Daily Office. This week we invite you to join with us in diving into this rich treasury for prayer. The Psalms poetically reflect the fullness of the human experience: from praise, exultation, and celebration to anger, disdain, and vengeance to utter desperation, resignation, and helplessness – and everything in between. Because of this range of expression, the Psalms have an incredible ability to allow us to express whatever we are feeling in the moment, while also lifting us out of our current circumstances to listen for the eternally-speaking voice of God.

Try This

The Psalms express every human experience and emotion. In this way, they invite us to share with God the unfiltered reality of our emotions and our experiences – even those parts of our lives and selves we might not want to pray. The Psalms invite us to let it all out. Find a Psalm that speaks to your soul’s true state this week, or simply bless God with your unvarnished truth in prayer.

This week, try singing your prayers. Pick a favorite hymn and sing it aloud to God. Chant the Psalms along with one of the Brothers’ services, available online. Remember, as Br Jonathan encourages, that it doesn’t have to sound pretty; God welcomes our “noise.”  Focus on your breath, bringing your whole body into your prayer.

For Reflection

Br. Sean shares how he resists some of the language of the Psalms, as an encounter with his own humanity that he does not want to face. What do the Psalms that you love – or loathe – have to teach you about yourself?

Consider your own personal “vocabulary of prayer”? What words and phrases come back again and again? Where does this familiar language come from chiefly? Are there lines of hymns, scripture, books, or other teachers that work their way into your prayer? Consider how this familiar language tells the story of God’s action of grace in your own life. 

Join Us

Evensong | This week we invite you to join us for Evensong, one of the gems of Anglican liturgy: Saturday at 6pm EST. Or come chant the Psalms at another Evening Prayer service this week: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 6pm EST, or Sunday at 4pm EST. Catch the live-stream at SSJE.org/chapel or on the Friends of SSJE Facebook page.

Facebook Live | Join Br. Jim Woodrum on Facebook each Thursday at 7:15pm EST for a live conversation on the week's topic with a special guest. We hope to see you there!

Download a one-page summary sheet on praying the Psalms, which you can place on your fridge, prayer corner, or desk.

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Bernadette Colley on March 14, 2021 at 08:12

    Thank you, Brothers Sean and Jonathan,
    (Bernadette Colley here, Music Director at Redeemer in Lexington… I spent 3 days on retreat in February 2020)

    This was both very thought provoking, and comforting.A good way to begin my Sunday morning today, before I have to get up and go “Zoom worship”.
    It helped my own understanding of, and relationship with, the psalms, and so gave me some practical nuggets to draw upon when teaching and singing psalms with my choir and congregation.
    Thank you for your continued outreach and source of sanctuary for us all.

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