Every Wednesday we publish a devotional on a Psalm. Here is this week’s Psalm for Praying:
Psalm for Praying
After Moses parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites to freedom, his sister, Miriam, let the people in dance and song! As we approach the celebration of the 25th Annual Pride in the Park Festival, we are filled with gratitude to God for leading us through the Red Sea of burden, and setting us free in a new land. As you reflect on Psalm 149, rejoice and give thanks to God.
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron,
to execute on them the judgment decreed. This is glory for all his faithful ones. Praise the Lord!
When we experience a cause for justice in our lives, and others find dispute with us, or ramp up their charges against our own desire for equality, we can feel isolated, surrounded by enemies. Psalm 17 is a plea for God’s attention, most likely written by David, in the face of growing adversaries. As you reflect on life today, and where you feel surrounded by obstacles, whether internal or external, consider sharing your plea with God. Hey God, I’m here. Listen to me. Give me some attention. I. Am. Here.
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Do you ever feel like you’re playing hide-n-seek with God? One minute you feel God’s presence like you’ve never felt before; the next God seems absent. It may help to know that we’re not the first ones to feel this way. In Psalm 13, the psalmist begins asking where God is. Then, we’re taken on a journey of discovery to learn that sometimes, God is just as present in absence as in the moment. As we learn, it’s all about trust.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
What signs do you look for along your spiritual path? Directional signs? Mileage signs? Speed Limit signs? These are tangible signs that can give us direction. What about the intangible signs, the signs that show up in our thoughts, prayers, interactions with others? How do we actively pay attention to both types of signs?
What is your deepest desire? How do you seek to live your life? Are you seeking a way for God’s desire and your desire to meet up and go forward together? Reflect on the beauty of these words from Psalm 20 (contemporary writing by Nan C. Merrill):
Consider all of your senses. How do you see, hear, touch, taste and smell the majesty of God? Read and reflect on Psalm 8 and the opportunity we have in every moment of life to experience God’s majesty and beauty in life and creation. At the close of the psalm, pray the words of Michael W. Smith’s setting of this psalm.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Oh Lord our Lord how majestic is
Your name in all the earth
Oh Lord our Lord how majestic is
Your name in all the earth
Oh Lord we praise Your name
Oh Lord we magnify Your name
Prince of Peace Mighty God
Oh Lord God Almighty.
What is the story of your faith? When did you first become aware of a holy presence in your life? How has this holy presence shaped your life and awakened you to your spiritual self? Psalm 66 is a psalm of thanksgiving to God for creating us and giving us the capacity for story, and specifically, a faith story. As you read this Psalm, listen for the places where a community tells their story and an individual offers a story. How does your story of faith relate?
Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” Selah
Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There we rejoiced in him,
who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations— let the rebellious not exalt themselves. Selah
Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.
Psalm 23, also known as the Shepherd Psalm, is a beautiful reminder of God’s presence and peace in our lives. It is a counter psalm to Psalm 22, which speaks of feeling abandoned and forsaken. As you read today’s Psalm, consider especially this phrase: even though I walk through the darkest valley (or the valley of the shadow of death), I fear no evil.
It takes great courage to utter such a line: I fear no evil. Today, as you face fears, whether inner or outer, remember this line. Make it your prayer.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
There is an old story about a man caught in a torrential flood. As the waters rise, four different modes of transportation come along, inviting him to a place of safety. At each offer he says, “Thank you, but I know the Lord will save me.” The man eventually drowns, and when he arrives in heaven, he asks the Lord what happened. The Lord says, “What do you mean? I tried to save you four times.”
Sometimes our perception of God’s saving power is limited by our small view of how and when God is working to save us and move us on to wholeness. As you read Psalm 116:1-4, consider the ways God’s saving love is active in your life.
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”