Praying the Psalms

June 15, 2016

At St. Mark we sing the Psalms, and within the last year have started chanting them. The Psalms are a regular part of the weekly liturgy, and should be for all churches. The Psalms are God’s prayer book; they are the Psalms of Jesus our king, and although Jesus taught the disciples to pray when they asked, surely the Psalms themselves tutor God’s people in the life of prayer. The church is taught a wider range of emotions in prayer than they might otherwise pray, as well as bolder and deeper petitions. This being true, the Psalms are also valuable for the daily life of the believer. The habit on Sunday should carry over into the habits of the other days of the week.

Several years ago, a fellow pastor and friend recommended Reading the Psalms with Luther as a helpful tool for learning to chant the Psalms. I obtained a copy, and began to incorporate chanting the Psalms as part of my morning prayers. On more than one occasion I have been thankful for the Lord’s perfect timing on what He has taught me to pray, and the choice words that have been a boon to my soul.

The current events and news of recent days have been weighing heavily, raising questions about the future, and causing a measure of unrest in my spirit. This morning Psalm 37 was the next one to be chanted. The first three verses were immediately apt:

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness

Within moments my faith was reminded of a faith-full outlook, what it is called to pursue, and my heart was lifted. I realize this experience is not only limited to believers and the Psalms, and can be known when reading other portions of God’s word, but the Psalms uniquely serve the praying-life of God’s people.

Lord, teach us to chant, and so teach us to pray.