November 2017: Read the Psalms
‘If you want to know how to pray, read the Psalms’ a wise person once said.
The book of Psalms in our Bibles is a collection of 150 poems. In them we hear people praying. We listen in as they praise God in good times and plead with him in emergencies. We get a ringside seat as they question God and complain that he’s not doing his job properly. There are expressions of trust and declarations of devotion to God. Some of the Psalms celebrate when victory has been snatched from the jaws of defeat. Others seek God’s forgiveness when someone has messed up big-time. In fact, between them, the Psalms capture the whole range of human emotion.
The Psalms are brutally honest. The poets are not bothered about using ‘proper’ language to talk to God. They tell him how it is for them – what they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes they give it to him with both barrels. This isn’t armchair faith. It is people living out faith in the real world.
The Psalms are ancient. They were written up to 3,000 years ago. Society today is very different. People aren’t. People still gossip and back stab. People still are tempted and make a mess of things. Illness and calamity leave us reeling. Trusting God seems the most natural thing to do some days, and the most ridiculous other days.
That’s why, down through the generations, God’s people have turned to the Psalms. The Psalms help us pray. They allow us to express our faith and our doubts, our hopes and fears. They give us words we can use to express what’s deep inside us.
In St Andrew Blackadder Church we’re going to look at one psalm each Sunday in the eight weeks leading up to Christmas. Since the Psalms cover the whole range of human experience, it means there should be a psalm for every occasion. The challenge I’ve set myself is to choose a psalm that is appropriate for each Sunday. I wait with interest to hear how well you think I’ve managed.
To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.
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