Dear friends at Epiphany,
That title is a bit misleading, because the Psalms are always in season. The Psalms – those hymns of ancient Israel – have been prayed for centuries by Jews and Christians alike. They are treasured for their authentic expression of the range of human emotions; they teach us to bring our whole lives before God: our joy and sorrow, gratitude and lament, faith and fear, anger and tranquility. The Psalter – the collection of all 150 Psalms, found in the Old Testament – is so essential to prayer that it is included in its entirety in our Book of Common Prayer. St. Athanasius wrote of the Psalter, “within it are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the human soul.”
Because we are in a season that troubles our souls, the Psalms can be especially helpful to our prayer – and by prayer, I mean the unique way each of us communicates with God.
When we think of our beloved church and long to gather again within its walls, we can pray, How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord. (Ps. 84.1)
When we hear the news of Jacob Blake’s shooting in Kenosha, we ask, How long, O Lord? (Ps. 13.1) And we can remember that the Lord will give justice to the orphan and the oppressed, so that mere mortals may strike terror no more (Ps. 10.19). And we can prepare ourselves to act for justice by taking to heart God’s command to all people: turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34.14).
When we are moved to work for a more sustainable world, we can recall with wonder that The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein. For it is he who founded it upon the seas, and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep. (Ps. 24.1-2)
When we seek peace in the midst of turmoil, we can pray, as countless others have before us, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Ps. 23.1-2)
If your prayer seems dry these days, or if you’re not sure how honest you can be with God, I encourage you to read the Psalms. Start by reading one each day. Let it be your prayer, let it give voice to your longing, your anxiety, your fear, your hope, your joy. In praying them, may you be able to say, with the Psalmist, that God revives my soul (Ps. 23.3).
Yours in Christ,