Friday, November 25, 2011

Learning to Pray the Psalms

A little over twenty years or so ago, I had the privilege of going on a couple of retreats with a group of Presbyterian men to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, a Cistercian (Trappist) community in Conyers, GA. On both occasions, Father Gus (Dom Augustine Moore) spoke with us about prayer, particularly about praying the Psalms. Father Gus had entered the order as a young man at Gethsemani Abbey, in Trappist, KY, and was now quite advanced in years. He had come to a lot of wisdom in those years and had, at one time, served as abbot at Holy Spirit Monastery. I was just beginning to learn to pray the Psalms in those days, so I was interested in what he would have to say.

Two things stand out for me from those talks. First, he said that as he prayed the Psalms, “I just let the lines work on me.” The steady rhythm of praying the lines of the Psalms, day after day, year after year, formed him and transformed him. Second, he said that as he prayed, he would sometimes feel the “zoom of the Holy Spirit.” I was not quite sure at the time just what he meant by that, though I later found out for myself.

Since then, I have carried those two things with me as I have continued to pray the Psalms. The lines have worked on me and changed my life. They have become a conversation, a relationship, between God and me. I speak to God in the Psalms, and He speaks to me. They have set some things in me that have become very precious to me ~ I have come to see that God has always had a great desire for the nations and the generations, and I intercede for them on that basis, from the Psalms. The experience of praying the Psalms has been defibrillating for my heart. Line by line, it has been bringing my heart into alignment with the heart of God. I have also often experienced the “zoom” of the Holy Spirit ~ times of deep joy or intense peace, or unexpected compassion, or even the inarticulate groaning of the Spirit that Paul talks about in Romans 8:26 ~ while praying the Psalms. I have experienced these things even as I have been working on this project of personal confessions I have adapted from the Psalms. All these things I also hope for you as you read these confessions.

Personal Confessions from the Psalms
Personal Confessions from the Psalms
Prayers and Affirmations for a Life of Faith, Happiness and Awe in God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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