Praying the Psalms

I didn't take naturally to the Psalms. They are poetry, and I'm a prose kind of guy. Logic and reason -- left to myself I'll head for Paul's epistles time after time.

Plus being poetry, they are kind of raw. Lord, I'm all alone here, why aren't you doing anything to help? My enemy is really bad, and I've been good. Make his kids into homeless orphans.

But in the last few years, I realize how much I need the rawness. I am pretty emotional too, I just hide it. Angry and upset? Don't express it, maybe it will go away. While not acting out my negative emotions is a valuable skill in social life, pretending they aren't there when I'm alone with God is not. God has used the Psalms to teach me when I pray to say what's on my heart, not what I believe should be on my heart. Because when I express my heart to God, he helps calm me much more than pretending I don't really feel that way can calm me.

And the Psalms, although raw and honest, are not just ranting.  They can go from "Lord, don't you care that I'm all alone here," to "You are the great one we all hope for" in just one or two verses. (See Psalm 22:1-3).

When I'm feeling something that isn't right, pretending I don't feel it doesn't help much.
Lecturing myself why I shouldn't feel it is only slightly better.
Laying it before God and saying "help me with this feeling" works much better.


Anonymous said...

I just read Psalm 109. If that doesn't cross your "mercy" line in the sand, I dare say you have none. The raw "go get him God" is over the top.

Unknown said...

Yes, 109 is perhaps the worst. I hope whoever wrote it got more perspective the next day.

Anonymous said...

Verses 21 to the end are significantly more charitable than 6-19.