LORD TEACH US TO PRAY!
KING DAVID, SONG WRITER, SINGER, AUTHOR OF PSALMS
As we continue to wait on the Lord in this Advent Season, it is important to increase our times of prayer to make ready to receive Jesus in our hearts. One group of prayers often overlooked in modern times is found in Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. You can easily find them on the internet, in your Bible, or at a Catholic bookstore. Psalms were the most common prayer of Jesus in the New Testament and loved singing them with his disciples. As they left the Last Supper they sang psalms on their way to Gethsemane. “Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30)
The book of the Psalms is not a single book, in and of itself, but a collection of many poems and other similar works composed mostly by King David but include many other authors such as Moses and Solomon. In the Psalms, joy, suffering, the desire and fear of death are all interwoven and expressed. On Calvary, Jesus recalled Psalm 22:1, “And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:48
In general the Psalms fall into two areas, praise and petition. Petition is animated by the certainty that God will respond, and this opens up to praise and thanksgiving from the experience of salvation received. In petition, the one who prays describes his situation of distress or, as in the penitential psalms, he confesses guilt and sin, and asks to be forgiven. He lays bare his neediness before the Lord, in the confidence of being heard and answered.
The Psalms are given to us as the inspired word of God. Though God used human instruments, God is the true author of the Bible. Since they are the Word of God, the pray-er who prays the Psalms speaks to God with the very words that God has given to us. Thus, in praying the Psalms we learn to pray. They are a school of prayer.
By teaching us to pray, the Psalms teach us that, even in the midst of desolation, God’s presence remains and is the source of wonder and of consolation; we can cry, beg, intercede, lament, but we do so in the knowledge that we are walking toward the light. Each Psalm acquires a new light in Christ and the Psalter is able to shine in all its infinite richness.
From time to time I will post Psalms in my blog for inspiration and prayer. I will include a few examples from Psalms in this post. There are seven penitential Psalms, 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 142. Penitential psalms all recognize sin as the source of corruption and trouble.
PSALM 51: MISERERE (PENITENTIAL PSALM)
Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me….
From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you….
PSALM 8 (PRAISE)
O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! You have set your majesty above the heavens!….What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet: O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!….
PSALM 17 (PETITION)
Hear, LORD, my plea for justice; pay heed to my cry; Listen to my prayer spoken without guile. From you let my vindication come; your eyes see what is right. You have tested my heart, searched it in the night. You have tried me by fire, but find no malice in me….Show your wonderful love, keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the violence of the wicked….The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought….
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