Praying the Psalms

King David was a man after God’s own heart.  What does that mean?  Whatever it means, you can find the raw emotions of David in the Psalms.  Some Psalms are happy, some are sad.  Some are fearful, some are brave.  When we look at the Psalms as a whole, we can see God in all things.


But how do we pray the Psalms?  The first step is to actually read them.  There are some guides that will suggest a particular Psalm if you have this problem or that problem, but the sure way is to make your own list.  Read through the Psalms and note which ones speak to you in the ways that you may need them to speak.


I was forced into retirement when I was not prepared for it.  I was looking for a job and getting a lot of interviews, but as soon as they saw me, they rejected me.  We went through the routine of asking and answering questions, but their mind was made up at the first glance.  This guy is too old.  Yes, the laws of the land prevent age discrimination.  Please!  Get your head out of the sand.  If you have too many old people in your workforce, your overhead, including medical benefits, is more costly.  You never know when the old guy will die at his desk.  You don’t want to train this guy and then have him retire a year later.  Whatever your excuse as an employer, please find a better excuse for not hiring than “over-qualified”.  The old person gets tired of hearing it.  He / she would be appreciative if you rejected them in a more creative way.


Early on in my job search, I started reading Psalm 13 each morning, alternating through many translations.  Where was God?  Had He forgotten me?  Was God hiding His face?  My enemies were certainly laughing at me.  Were they laughing at my God, because my God had not been there to save my job?  Yet, you are still my God.  I praise God.  After a few weeks, I was answering each of David’s questions.  God wasn’t hiding His face.  If anything, I was hiding from God.  How had I been so wrong in my walk with God that I am suffering so?  Had God forgotten me?  Never.  I am His own.


I prayed Psalm 13 for over a year until I read a single verse of Psalm 25.  Psalm 25 had many of the same elements as Psalm 13.  Both talked about God lifting me up so that my enemies won’t laugh at me, and in turn God Himself.  But Psalm 25 is meatier.  Psalm 25 has less utter despair.  I started reading Psalm 25 instead.  In only a few months, I didn’t need either one.  God had spoken to me.  That’s when Psalm 138 might come to mind.  God has been faithful and I will praise Him.


Or it could be that Psalm 23 comes to mind that God is always with me.  If you didn’t know that you have a bit of claustrophobia and you have an open MRI procedure?  It comes in really handy to have memorized Psalm 23.  It might keep you from clicking the panic button.


Many of us have problems figuring out what the right words are when we pray.  That’s silly.  If you have a relationship with Jesus, saying what is on your heart and mind is all that is necessary.  Yet, when we ask for things and forget the adoration of God, confession to God, and thanksgiving for all of our blessings, our prayers fall flat.  God is not the senile grandfather as C. S. Lewis suggested as the wrong image of God that many of us share.  When we read a particular Psalm each day for a week in addition to our other prayers, we can be more centered in our prayer lives on what God’s will is rather than our own wants.


The guide may give you the ‘go-to’ Psalms of the writer of the guide, but to truly hear God’s voice in time of need, find your own Psalm.


As for my job search, after a couple of short-term contracts, I’m retired.  Would I accept another short-term contract?  Probably, but I am very satisfied spending even more time in prayer each day and reading the Bible, also.


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