Praying with the Psalms: Longing for God
By Kent French
March 2, 2023 - 10:05am
During Lent (February 22-April 8) we are steeping ourselves in the Psalms, this ancient poetry of generations of the faithful, as an entryway for our personal and collective prayer lives.
The poetry of the 150 psalms covers a broad range of human emotion: praise, elation, awe, remorse, despair, anger, frustration, gladness, revenge, love. When we're willing to enter into them, to make them a regular part of our lives, they show us in poetic ways what it means to be human. And what it means to long for God.
The writer of Psalm 42 gave us the classic line:
Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
(Common English Bible)
Or as we might have heard it in the King James version:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
As we read on, this psalmist is clearly in despair. Their tears have been their food night and day. They are "bowed down," depressed, searching. A mix of knowing the promises of God and yet, internally feeling bereft, flattened, stuck. Have you ever felt like that?
As we prepare for Sunday, I wonder, "what do you long for?" Success, peace of mind, freedom from pain, internal contentment, good health? How much of that has to do with God?
And how do you long for God? How do you talk to God about it? To yourself?
On Sunday, we will delve into these questions, knowing that generations before us have dealt with them before us, and have even written down their prayers. How might that help us grow spiritually stronger, more resilient, more faithful? Come Sunday and we'll meditate on these things together.
Image from SoulShepherding.
The season of Lent (February 22-April 8 this year) is a time for us to deepen more intentionally into our spiritual life -- perhaps in new ways or refreshing some old ways. Typically, people think of giving up something for Lent. However, Lent can also mean taking on something. Basically, Lenten practice is about adopting patterns or practices that help us sink more deeply into our souls and draw closer in our relationship and understanding of God.
As always, we will provide opportunities for all of us to do that this year. We heartily encourage you to try some if not all of them by clicking here.
Praying with the Psalms. On Sundays, we will immerse ourselves in this big, rich book of poetry and the ways that faithful people throughout the centuries have used it as prayer. How may we re-enter this ancient collection in new ways and how may it enrich our collective and personal prayer lives?
Study Groups. We will have in-person and online study groups to help us deepen our own personal and collective practice of praying with the psalms. Meetings on Sundays, March 5, 12, 19 and 26 at 12:30pm in the Parlor, and Tuesdays, March 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 7pm on Zoom. Find the Zoom link in the weekly newsletter or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayer Partners. We encourage ALL of us to try or re-commit to having a prayer buddy in Lent -- someone you can check in with during the week, go over your concerns and joys and offer them in prayer. We provide guidelines to make this fun and helpful. If this is something that sounds welcome and soothing or sounds like a challenge, or anything in between, then we encourage you to try it out! Prayer partnering helps us strengthen as a spiritual community. Contact email@example.com to sign up.
Dinner Church. For the first time in THREE years, we will gather again like the ancient church, around a table for a common meal of soup and salad, communion, song, prayer and conversation. This is a beautiful way to worship in a different setting and rhythm. Thursdays, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6:00-6:45pm in the Parlor. Doors open at 5:45pm.
As our congregation goes more deeply into clarifying our purpose and mission in this time and place during Lent, deepening in our spiritual practices becomes even more important to ground us in God. We heartily encourage you to take part.