Summer is an odd duck. School lets out, Instagram becomes a film reel of beach days and vacas, and by July 31st Halloween paraphernalia is holding stores hostage. Between June and August I’m never quite sure if I’m winding down or revving up.
These hot months fly fast, so before they’re gone may I ask you a bold question? How are you going to care for your soul this summer?
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I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Psalms. My father read them to me when I was a child, and through repetition many verses were etched in my heart. But it was when depression found me in my late teens and twenties that I clung to the book of Psalms. In it I found
“a mirror of divine grace, reflecting the lovely face of our Heavenly Father, and the anatomy of the soul.”
But a few months ago, inspired by my sister-in-law Shawna, I began experiencing the Psalms in a whole new way. I committed to daily praying through them—complaining, weeping, hoping, praising, singing through them. For 86 days now I’ve given myself over to the full gamut of emotions in the Psalms and I’ve met God afresh.
It’s become such a life-giving, joy-starting ritual for me that I’ve been itching to tell you about it. In fact, I’m going to risk sounding presumptuous and challenge you to join me over the next two summer months—to saturate your soul in what Samuel Clarke called “the most useful book of the Bible.”
Here’s what I propose: Beginning June 1, pray through one Psalm each day for two months—and challenge a friend to join you.
Grab a friend
It’s been pure joy for me to read through the Psalms alongside my dear friend Melissa. We read a chapter every weekday (today we were in Psalm 86) and then we text each other our favorite verse. It’s a simple and beautiful form of accountability–and what is sweeter than sharing Scripture with a friend?
Who would you enjoy journeying through the Psalms with?
Begin to pray
Each of us has such a unique relationship with God that my times with Him will look so different from yours. But to give you an idea of how this works for me, here are a few excerpts from three of my “Psalm prayers.” (I usually use my laptop to type these out, but sometimes I pray them aloud, and occasionally I even sit at the piano to sing through them.)
from Psalm 61
I am the Rock that is higher than you and your day. I am your Refuge, and under My wings you can find shelter today. I am watching over you with My steadfast love and faithfulness.
from Psalm 62
Lord, let my soul wait for You alone, in silence. Let it not fume and fret in the waiting. Let it be still. Quiet. At peace. For from You comes my salvation. My saving! You only are my rock and my salvation, my fortress—the only One who keeps me from being greatly shaken. I shall not be shaken.
from Psalm 64
Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint—and boy did I have some complaints in the middle of the night and this morning!!! Preserve my life from the dread of this weekend and next. Hide me from the plots of my flesh and from the effects of others’ sins. Take out these enemies of mine: my pride, selfishness, apathy, anxiety, covetousness, resentment, mismanagement of energy/emotions/time. Bring them to ruin in my heart and mind. For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep! Then others will fear You; they will tell what You have brought about and ponder what You have done.
A word for every condition
Dear one—this is changing me. I’ve come through a prolonged season of stress, exhaustion, and grief, but my heart is both healing and being emboldened, due in part to these simple prayer sessions. In the psalter there is a word for every human condition, whether you are in the throes of depression or on the heights of bliss. Here you will find permission to “pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord” who sees and knows and cares—and acts powerfully on your behalf.
So complain. Weep. Wonder. Worship. Hold nothing back from your God.
How ever you choose to get with God this summer, may your heart cry out, “Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your steadfast love toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”
P.S. – If you decide to join me in praying the Psalms, I’d love to hear from you so I can pray for you by name. Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. (I’m horrible about emailing back, but I will pray! 🙂 ) Also, here’s a fantastic commentary on the Psalms that’s helped me pray with greater understanding:
*First quote by Gerhard. Other Scriptures referenced: Lamentations 2:19; Isaiah 64:4; Psalm 86:11-13.