June 22, 2017
Reading the Psalms with Understanding
June 22, 2017
This week’s sermon text: James 5:13-19
“So how should we read the Psalms with understanding? For one thing, we should read slowly and deliberately in order to take in the sights and sounds, taste, touch and smell in which the truth of God is contained.” (“How We Should Read the Psalms” by Mel Lawrenz, Director of the Brook Network)
St. Ignatius of Loyola taught a form of reflective prayer, also known as meditation that invites you to use your mind and imagination to engage in prayerful conversation with God and to recognize his presence in your daily life.
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone for 10 or 15 minutes. Assume a comfortable position and, if you wish, close your eyes or focus on a religious picture or a lighted candle. Become aware of God’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer.
- Close with one or two minutes quiet breathing in order to rest silently in God’s presence.
- Take 2 or 3 minutes to practice rhythmic breathing-counting to three slowly and silently while breathing in and counting slowly to five while breathing out-to help concentration.
- Prayerfully read Psalm 86:1-12. Imagine yourself as the person praying the psalm. What can you see? What sounds do you hear? What can you feel? Imagine a setting in which you can talk with God and listen to him speak to you. Respond to what God may be saying to you.
Questions for the Field
Describe your experience of imagining the environment and the conversation with God as you sat in silence.
- How did the use of your sense draw you into the psalm?
- What image or word will you carry with you for the day?
Family Field Talk
Read the psalm together. Tell a modern day story in which this psalm might be spoken. What has happened before the psalm? What happens afterward?
Dear God, the psalms and hymns of people who have gone before us carry the stories of our common humanity. Just as we might listen to an older friend, help us to sit with the “stories of old,” knowing that they are also the stories for today. The universally-present struggles and joys are ours, as are the prayers. Hear our prayers, past and present. Amen.