Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Psalms...The School of Prayer.

I am learning so much about this beautiful part of Scripture. God is so good!

This is from Sarah Christmyer's Blog. There is a whole class there on reading the Psalms in your daily prayer.
Go HERE to see the entire study....

The Psalms are different from much of the rest of the Bible: they are not history, not law, not prophecy, but poetry. And more than just poetry, they are prayer. The Psalms are a place of conversation with God.

The rest of the Bible addresses us from somewhere outside. But the Psalms go straight to our hearts. When we read them, they reach inside and gather up our wants and needs, our hurts and desires, our questions and our praise – and then they give voice to all those things, God’s voice, in words inspired by the Holy Spirit—and lift them to heaven.

Dei Verbum, which is the Church’s encyclical on Divine Revelation, tells us that “in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them” (21). God speaks to us in His word when we read … and we answer when we pray. In a unique way, in the Psalms, we do both! It is a special place for meeting God, a place of conversation, of communion.

It is my hope that learning more about the Psalms in this class will bring us all into that place. We’re all at different places where it comes to prayer – some of us are old hands while others are coming at it new. But we all have one thing in common, we all have to (or had to) learn how to pray.

Once at the Holy Western Wall (the “Wailing Wall”) in Jerusalem, Jeff Cavins saw a Hasidic Jew wrapped in a tallit (prayer shawl) and sitting facing the wall, rocking back and forth, praying. Then he noticed that on the man’s knee, beneath the tallit, was a small boy. The man was teaching him to pray.

What was he teaching him? When I went there to pray last month, it was my first time in Jerusalem. I was focused on touching the wall and praying and finding a space in the cracks to leave my intentions. But many of the Jewish women were sitting back a bit, or standing, bobbing back and forth and praying from a small book. They were really praying, not simply presenting petitions. They had come to meet God at the closest place they could get to where the Holy of Holies once was. I found out that the books in their hands were books of Psalms, and they were praying the Psalms for the day – Tuesday, as it was.

Then I learned that Orthodox Jews pray through all 150 Psalms every month or even every week, some of them, according to a schedule—like Catholic priests and religious pray the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. Many recite them from memory. That is likely what the man was doing with the boy, not praying extemporaneously. He was teaching him to pray with the Psalms.

In a similar way, you would teach a child to write by having her trace an alphabet you had written, then copy down words. We learn to pray by first reading and saying words inspired by God to meet the various situations we are in. This is how Jesus learned to pray, it is how he taught his disciples to pray, and it is how we must learn to pray as well.

Psalms: the School of Prayer
And that is the focus of this study: Psalms as the school of prayer. It’s going to be very different from the other studies we’ve done, because we won’t go systematically through the book and learn it like a story.

These ten weeks are more like an orientation. These ten sessions:
  • will give you an overview of the Psalter and its structure;
  • they’ll give you tools to read and understand the poetic language;
  • they’ll help you recognize and read the various types of Psalms;
  • and they’ll give you a feel (and practical suggestions) for how to pray them.
By the end, you’ll be equipped—and I hope you’ll have a hunger—for a lifetime of praying with the Psalms, whether at Mass or on your own; and you’ll have gained an essential resource to help you meet God, to help you turn to Him no matter what your situation is, no matter how difficult.

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