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Home Prayer & Praise The Psalms: Praying Scripture Back to God
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The Psalms: Praying Scripture Back to God
Written by Wilma Zalabak, M.Div.   
Thursday, 15 July 2010 10:39


Regarding praying Scripture back to God, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book, Life Together (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1954), on page 47, "The Psalter is the great school of prayer."


In other words, the Psalms teach us how to pray. They teach us that prayer is indeed much bigger than the individual.


Prayer is as big as God's promises. The Psalms teach us to pray according to God's promises. They are filled with awesome promises.


Prayer is as big as Christ's sacrifice and mediation. Many of the Psalms were quoted in the Gospels as coming from Jesus' mouth in prayer or as describing what Jesus experienced. Only Jesus is big enough to truly pray the Psalms as His own. It is only in Christ that I may pray at all, much less use the words of Scripture. On the other hand, by those same Scriptures, the Christian in Christ is invited, even urged to pray according to the will of God, according to the Scriptures.


Prayer is as big as the gathered congregation. Many of the Psalms are obviously constructed so as to invite antiphonal reading. Often, if I listen while I read, I can hear the entire congregation saying these words in what we call today "responsive reading," some sounds coming from one direction and responding sounds coming from another direction. When I pray the Psalms, I am uniting my voice with those of Christians from all ages in a grand praise to God. Prayer is much bigger than me or any individual Christian.


Think for a moment of the Psalms of promise and the Psalms of praise and the Psalms of supplication. These seem somewhat easier to pray back to God that do the other Psalms.


The Psalms of vengeance can safely be prayed only in an attitude of surrender and meekness, "through Jesus Christ, from the heart of Jesus Christ" (Bonhoeffer, 47). Indeed, our ultimate enemy, Satan, is God's enemy, too, and the vengeance is in God's hands.


The Psalms of innocence are available to us only as a gift through the grace of Christ, but they are available to us for saving prayer. Praise God.


The Psalms of suffering can be a great comfort to Christians who suffer here. Again it is only the suffering and death of Christ on the Cross and our surrender to it that gives us the right to pray these Psalms. The comfort is a gift of grace.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 December 2012 12:53
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