Recently, I have had the opportunity to lead a small group of friends through the practice of prayer and contemplation known as Lectio Devina. This method of devine reading, or contemplative reading and prayer comes from the Rule of Saint Benedict and is modeled after the practice encouraged in monastic life to not only read, but to study and listen to scripture in a way that allowed for understanding, obedience, and communion with God (https://e-benedictine.com/lectio-divina/).
As I lead this weekly time of listening and contemplating, I have been attempting to encourage my friends to pray the Psalms as they contemplate – thinking about how the Psalm of the week that we read was written in a different context, and how it’s words ring true in ways that God can communicate to each of us. Praying the Psalms, thankfully, isn’t a new phrase to us in this space. This is something we’ve said and heard in church for the past 11 years at least – When you don’t know what to pray, pray the Psalms. When your own words and thoughts feel insufficient, pray the Psalms. When you need to find peace, or cry out, or find words of praise, Pray the Psalms. Rituals and practices and habits build who we are, and sometimes this means relying on the words of others because we don’t have them ourselves. Sometimes this means seeking out those words and providing space for the habit of saying them, of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and praying those words.
So, as I attempt to work out this practice myself, I’ll be striving to post a little more of my own renderings of these Psalms. And, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to see yours!
This week’s Psalm was Psalm 146 (as I began writing this Wednesday, but now it is after church Sunday) – and I read, and listened, and wrote, and thought, and while it is not complete, nor poetic, this is my own prayer through Psalm 146:
Praise the Lord!
Let my soul, let my song,
Every day of my life, Praise the Lord
Because I will not praise the things and people of this world.
from ashes we came, to ashes we will return:
The leaders and followers,
princes and paupers,
humanity, broken and beautiful,
in all of it’s struggling and striving,
Is nothing beyond dust.
Son of Man, Son of Gad
Give True help, give Real hope.
Redeemer of this broken world;
Redeemer of our broken lives;
Strength in our weakness
Promised Life through the ashes, through the dust.
Only You reign forever,
In you is all my hope.
God of Grace.
With all my undeserving Soul
Praise the Lord!
**The other way I continuously attempt to pray the psalms, is to find music written to them – in this way, I subconsciously get to do a little memorization, and there could be many worse things than having a psalm stuck in your head. Throughout the week I’ve been singing Kaitlyn Ferry’s rendition of the Psalm, “I Will Sing Praises” produced by Cardiphonia and I recommend you give it a listen as you contemplate this week **