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Written by Nancy Ruegg for “From the Inside Out” @ http://nancyaruegg.com
View original post @ https://nancyaruegg.com/2017/08/03/in-the-school-of-the-psalms/
In the School of the Psalms
August 3, 2017 by Nancy Ruegg
“Poetry is the robe, the royal apparel,
in which truth asserts its divine origin.”
— Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887, clergyman)
Nowhere do we find divine truth dressed in more glorious, royal apparel than in the psalms of the Bible. Heart and soul skip a beat as we encounter such regal lines as:
“Extol him who rides on the clouds—
his name is the Lord.”
“You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps himself in light as with a garment.”
“He spreads the snow like wool
And scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
He stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.”
We marvel at the artistry with which the psalmists paint glorious images with their words. Then we remember: the Artist was God himself as he inspired these men to transcend mere informative prose and capture the essence of his grandeur and power with creative insight.
Just as toddlers learn to talk by copying those around them, we can learn to praise, worship, and pray by copying such psalms. Their worthy vocabulary, creative phrases, and poetic sentences offer expression for the mere shadows of thought in our hearts.
Surely that’s one reason God gave us the psalms in the first place: as a school for prayer.*
And in his wisdom he provided models of prayer for the full range of response to him in every situation we might face.
In need of comfort? Picture the imagery of Psalm 23.
Feeling like God is far away and uninvolved? Read Psalm 71.
Craving moments of intimacy with your Heavenly Father? Meditate on Psalm 103.
Feeling insignificant? Praise your way through Psalm 139.
Longing for reassurance that God is in control? Turn to Psalm 146.
At a loss of words to celebrate God? Enjoy Psalm 8.
In addition, the psalms provide worthy models as we pray for others.
Just yesterday, while researching the idea of praying through the psalms, I came across an interesting suggestion from Donald S. Whitney at www.crosswalk.com.**
He recommends we skim read five psalms per day and by month’s end, the entire book will have been reviewed. Pause, contemplate, and pray back to God those verses that catch your eye and touch your heart. (That process is expedited if verses which are personally meaningful have already been underlined.)
Then we can turn our attention toward verses appropriate for others. This morning my prayer list included two sets of friends, both with particular challenges in their lives. I skimmed through Psalms 1-5 to see if any verses stood out for them.
Sure enough, Psalm 5:11-12 fit perfectly.
I personalized it a bit:
“Lord God, I thank you for the examples of S. & E., G. & A., as they take refuge in you. They DO love your name and sing your praises in spite of the difficulties they face. I thank you for your protection over them.
“They are righteous in your sight because of Jesus, and they also strive consistently to obey you. Therefore, I know you will fulfill your promise to bless them. May they sense your favor surrounding them like a shield—today and always.”
It felt good to pray like that, because God’s Word is flawless (Proverbs 30:5a), and wields great power (Hebrews 4:12).
Later I messaged the two couples, letting them know that on this day, these verses were prayed over them. Sending these messages of encouragement also felt good.
I’m already looking forward to my morning prayer time when I’ll skim Psalms 6-10. Which verses will perfectly suit those on tomorrow’s prayer cards? It’s going to be fun to find out.
This School of the Psalms promises to be a very satisfying experience. Perhaps you’d like to join me?
*A term created by Eugene Peterson in his book, Under the Unpredictable Plant (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992), p. 100.
**”How to Pray through the Psalms,” www.crosswalk.com, November 9, 2015.
Art & photo credits: www.pixabay.com; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net (2); http://www.hanscom.af.mil; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.mybible.com; http://www.pinterest.com (2).
Picture credit: https://www.google.com/search?q=picture+Psalm+Bible&rlz=1C1VFKB_enUS610US619&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYstLT4t7VAhUIYiYKHYWbDRYQsAQIMg&biw=1177&bih=876#imgrc=pbId8GD56u4zVM: