Praying the Psalms – Psalm 31

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Praying the Psalms

Psalm 31 (v1-8)

I can handle it all because you are my shelter, O God. Change the hearts of those who would shame me. Change my heart when I seek to shame others. Save us from my anger and guilt.

I know you hear me when I cry out to you. I pray I listen to the people sent into my path that can help deliver me from this heartache. I pray for stability in an unstable world. I pray for strength to make it through the hardships in front of me.

God, your stability and faithfulness to goodness is a protective shield. May I reflect that goodness to your people. May I give over every part of my spirit that does not love perfectly.

I hate that I hate. I get so worked up when people waste their place in this world. I hate what is worthless, but I embrace worthless ideals all the time, giving over my limited time to things that do not bring me wholeness, goodness, or empowerment. My spirit celebrates faithful love, and I suffer when I do not extend that love or accept it for myself. You know my distress because you know me intimately. Protect me from the spaces in my life that the enemy of love seeks to bind me in. Free my soul to roam in the wide-open spaces of your empowering goodness. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 22

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Praying the Psalms

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus uttered these words from the cross. In his time of greatest fear and pain, he wondered at your absence. If even he had to wonder, then surely, I am okay to have doubt. Please do not leave me and forsake me. Rescue me or give me over to be rescued by those around me.

Do you even hear me? I talk but hear nothing. Is that because I talk and do not listen or because you have nothing to say? Make me still. Let the chaos in my soul settle.

I trust in your goodness. I trust that the cords that bind my heart and my mind will be cut, and you will set me free. I want to escape. I want to hide. I just don’t want to be beat up anymore. I trust in your goodness.

When I feel worthless, you remind me that I am beloved. When I think I am a disgrace to you, you wash me anew in your grace. When the people revile me, you hold me close. When the people mock me, you give me power to build someone up. When the people shake their heads and sneer at me, you give me power to smile in the face of the snarl.

Give me the power to turn to you again today. Set me free from the cage of wild animals, or maybe have the cage protect me until they go away. Either way, find delight in me and save me from myself.

I cast myself upon you, so cast me not away from your presence. Do not be far from me, for distress is near and no one else can settle the chaos of my soul. I am falling apart and my heart melts like wax. The joy of everything seems to be diminishing. Evil encircles me looking to take everything.

But you are not far. You have come to my aid in the past and I know you will now. Save me from the sword of my life. Have I expected too much? Have I raised myself up to places I should not have been? Ease this affliction of the lowly. Do not hide your face from me. I need to see it now more than ever. Hear me!

May my hunger be satiated. May my search find you. May I experience good cheer. May I remember you. May I return to you. May I bow down before you. May you rule the hearts of all. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 16

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God, the only safety I know is found in the moments I seek you. May there be more of those moments. Sometimes, it feels like the only good found in this world is in those moments. But I know that the world has good in it. You made it so.

The beauty of faith-filled people encompasses me. I thank you for those people every day. They reveal themselves at the same time the faithless do. Those who trust in your love completely are true and beautiful. When I hurt, they heal my heart.

Still, there are those who chase after the gods of power, control, and security. They despair because these gods are not theirs to get. They abandon your goodness for lesser, more vile things. Come, Holy Spirit, and guide them back to you. May they find your love and forgiveness complete.

Eternal One, you recharge me when I am running on empty. Your path leads to my future. My future sits next to me as I pray, three rambunctious little boys without a care in the world. They frustrate and energize me all at once. Together, my past and present, my wife, we journey this path as one. You have gifted me with more than I could have asked for.

Teach me your wise ways. May they orchestrate my days. May they center my mind on the things that bring you joy. Be present with me. Go before me just as you come with me. With you at my right hand, I will not abandon my calling.

This is a good life – even when it is a hard life. May a find rest so I can reflect on the gladness of my heart and the joyfulness of my soul. You never leave me alone. You do not abandon me, so I will not abandon you.

Direct me to beauty. Direct me on the path that leads to beautiful life. Direct me to bring beauty into the lives of others. This is your pleasure. Make it mine. Help me when I choose ugliness. I will know genuine joy and contentment when I walk the path that leads to beauty. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 38

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Praying the Psalms – Psalm 38

“This is one of a group of psalms known in later tradition as the penitential psalms, namely, psalms that confess sins and express confidence in God’s mercy. In this psalm a serious illness threatens the life of the worshiper.” – Notes from the Compass Study Bible

God, I pray that you do not get angry at me even when I completely turn my back to you. Even though I deserve it, please do not correct me out of fury. Don’t shoot me full of arrows. The world does that enough. It comes down hard on me. I couldn’t take that from you too.

I feel sick at the thought of you being angry with me, so much so that the thought of it drains me of my will to live. I can’t even walk because the sin in me and around me is so heavy. I am guilty of sinning against you and I can’t handle it anymore. This burden is too heavy for me to bear.

This disease infects me to the core. It penetrates every part of me and is revealed in all the foolish things I have done. I am so afraid of your wrath that I can’t even look upward. I can only stare at the ground; the weight is so heavy. I cry all day knowing how wrong I’ve been towards you. I feel like I’m dying. My body is breaking down from the stress of the guilt I carry.

I’m so overwhelmed by it all that I’m beginning to be numb to it. I am totally spent. I can’t even scream out for your mercy when my heart is agitated.

You know my heart. You know my desires. Every moan for help is no news to you. My heart pounds against my chest, beating out the rhythm of despair and exhaustion. The light of your love once shone bright in my eyes but now they are as dim and cloudy as a decaying fish washed up on a seashore. With that light fading, even my friends and family can see the change.

Those who want to harm me bait me with traps. Those who desire my downfall threaten. They spend their days plotting against me.

I cannot hear you over the sound of my own despair. I do not dare speak to you for fear of exposing my guilt and having you notice me. I just want to hide from your wrath.

Still…

Still, I wait expectantly for you, Compassionate One. I know deep down that you will answer my cries with mercy and love and not a closed fist. I will fail. But when I do, please touch the hearts of those that would laugh and celebrate my downfall.

I do not know how much time is left. Do not let me waste the time I have. I confess that I have sinned and regret all the wrong I have done. Even with this admittance, my enemies do not forgive. They hate me still. When I do good, they punish anyway. They stand against me in the path of any good I want to accomplish.

God, do not leave me to their mercy but protect me in yours. Stay near me. Do not stray from me. I will remain under the comfort of your gaze. When they are near, be my fortress and my rock. I need your help now – not later. Rescue me, my God.

And may your mercy and compassion rain down on those who wish to harm me. They know not what they do, even if they think they do. Stir in their hearts compassion and the knowledge that they are as far from you as they think I am. Do not destroy them. Restore them as I want you to restore me. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 1

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Psalm 1 (1-3)

God of unwavering grace, guide me in your loving way. Close my ears to wicked advice. I want to follow your road of mercy and forgiveness. When I am disrespectful to others, please forgive me and reveal to me the way of reconciliation. Teach me your way. Inscribe love on my heart so that it becomes my first language. Let the struggles I experience be growing pain and not death pangs. Let me be the sweet fruit of a tree you’ve planted in this time and place. Give me strength to keep moving forward, to keep reaching those who are lost, and to care for those you have entrusted to me…and to never grow weary doing your good. Let me succeed in being perfected in your love. Amen.

Praying the Psalms – 18

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I love you, God, and I know that you love me. When I need strength, my heart dwells on your presence and I have it. When everything seems so uncertain, be my solid rock. Protect me from the forces that want to harm me. Let your Holy Spirit run through me so I am not the force that harms someone else. You strengthen us to help rescue each other from each other. You are the rock that is always steady and strong. May I mirror that steadiness. Shield me from unloving thoughts that lead to unloving acts. Let me be a place of safety as I also seek safety in the presence of those who follow you. Amen.

Praying the Psalms – 11

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Psalm 11

I take shelter in you, God. When all around me is scary and tumultuous, you are my refuge. Speak to me today. Speak words of both comfort and conviction. Sometimes courage looks like running away to confront the powers another day. Sometimes it looks like standing in harm’s way. Speak to me so I know which is appropriate. Our country looks like the bottom is falling all. What can I possibly do? Nothing good without your guidance and strength.

See me. See all of me. Examine my heart and motives. If they are not in line with your will, show me. I want to be righteous and not wicked, but I know that I am sometimes both. Help me be more good than not. Help me forgive those who are not.

Your heart hates violence. We do so much violence in your name. It has to make you sick. We are so wicked to each other. It must pain you, Father, to see your children killing each other. I could not bear it if one of my kids killed another. My mind cannot even fathom. Yet, you see it every single day in more numbers than is imaginable.

We deserve fiery coals heaped on our heads, yet you pile love and mercy upon us. Instead of scorching hot wind filling our cups, we drink in your breath of life…because you are good.

You love good deeds and right hearts. Help me see your face in the face of every person I encounter today. If I do not, then I know my heart is not right. Amen.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 4

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Psalm 4 (1-2)

Answer my prayers, God. You know the true nature of my requests.

Continue to make me right in your sight. You love me regardless, but I want to be better for you.

Rescue me from the relentless feeling of anxiety and despair that threatens to consume me when I feel surrounded by uncertainty. You have rescued me before. I know that you will do it again.

You listen when I cry out. Hear me again. Surround me with the love that a proud parent shows their beloved child.

Restore my hope when it waivers. Bring me victory when I feel defeated, whether or not I truly am. When others try to steal my dignity, my hope in your goodness strengthens me.

Please do not let my actions be fruitless and let that fruit be ever sweet. Help me see clearly amid all the fog of our times. Help me understand. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 21 (vs 1-2)

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O Eternal, you are strong. Through your patience, you reveal your strength. Give me some of that patient strength today. I feel at the very edge of everything.

I am glad because of you and you not leaving me to myself. Glad am I for you, but I cannot sing your name today. I can speak it. Maybe even shout it. But today, I cannot sing.

I have everything I need, yet I want more. Always more.  Still, I cannot think of something I want. I just know that I am not at ease with the state of everything. I wish for fear and stress to be reduced, eliminated even. I wish that the world hadn’t gone to hell in so short a time. But then again, was it really so short? Have we not been going down this path since the beginning? Was it not for this very reason that you brought Jesus into this world? Was Christmas revealed to us if not for such a time as now?

God, you never withhold your love from me, for which I am extremely thankful. Hear my prayers today. Hear and respond so I can listen and respond as well. Give me the voice to sing your name again. Give me the heart to want to do it. AMEN.

Praying the Psalms – Psalm 14

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Praying the Psalms

Psalm 14

Lord, I pray for those who do not believe you exist. I pray for those of us that do believe you exist but live as though you don’t. Help me see the ways in which I behave wickedly and foolishly. Stir in me a desire for wisdom and goodness.

It makes you sick to see the horrible ways we treat each other. We hurt each other based on race, gender, sexuality, and a host of other categories that make us think we have the right to wield power and control over others you’ve created. We don’t want to make you sick. Forgive us for the ways that we have hurt and continue to damage your beloved creation. We ask your grace as you patiently and constantly reveal to us the ways in which we can treat your creation and its creatures with compassion and love.

We want to do good. Too often, we do not. Forgive us.

You see everything. You witness it all. We can hide nothing from you, not even in the deepest parts of our hearts. We still try. We turn our backs on you and determine to do our own thing, go our own ways rather than your way. The outcome so often bears rotten, rancid fruit.

Please reveal to us what really matters to you. When it is revealed, give us the courage to walk that road, often the narrow and less traveled road. We devour each other trying to satisfy our hunger for you. We take the wrong paths. We search in the wrong places. So, we end up devouring the easiest things at hand, each other.

The reality we build up around ourselves is far too often not the reality you want for us. We ignore you and find ourselves lost. We show the world a brave face, but we are scared. Without you, we have false courage. Our hearts race at the thought of being without you.

There are those who try to take away our hope. They laugh at us. They mock us. Sometimes we are the ones trying to steal other people’s hope. But you are the strongest shelter in the heaviest storm, and nothing can be stolen that you give freely. You surround those who are poor, needy, and troubled with your sheltering love. Surround us today.

We feel bound to the awfulness of this world. Make a new day of deliverance. When we recognize that you have broken all of our bonds, we rejoice. We are delighted. We pray for release in the name of Jesus the Chainbreaker. AMEN.