TALKING IN PSALMS
You talk with dozens of people every day. You speak with your parents and family, you chat with your friends, you talk with your teachers. If you want to ask a special favor from someone, you might think about what you should say before making your request. But most of the time, our words are unplanned.
Talking to God
There are as many ways to talk with God as there are to talk with the people around us. Talking with God is one example of prayer. One place where we can learn more about prayer is the Bible, especially the Book of Psalms.
The psalms are the words to the hymns that the ancient Israelites sang during their Temple services. The word psalm means, “a song sung to stringed instruments.” We do not have the music to the psalms but we do have the words. The psalms are a school of prayer because each type of psalm helps us to talk with God.
Praise psalms give God glory and thanks. Psalm 100 is a praise psalm. It reminds us to honor God and to be thankful for our many blessings. Psalm 117, the shortest psalm in the Bible, is also a praise psalm. Psalm 150 praises God with music and dance as well as words.
Praying Your Own Psalms
Read at least one of the praise psalms. Then pray your own psalm of praise and thanks. You might say something like this: “Thank you, God, for my family. Thanks for a good day at school today. I’m glad you are always with me. Thanks for listening.”
The ancient Israelites believed that the best prayers thanked God. But they also knew that they could share their worries with God. Their fears were never too big or too small to bring to God and ask for help. They called those psalm prayers a lament.
The word lament means “to mourn” or “to grieve.” Psalms of lament might mourn the loss of a loved one, or health, or a good name. Psalm 55 is a lament: a friend double crossed the author.
Lament psalms have three parts. The first part tells God about the problem. The second part asks God for help. The third part gives God thanks and praise.
Got Problems? Pray!
The next time you have a problem or need to make a serious decision, pray your own lament psalm. It might sound like this: “God, I am worried about (my friend or the school play tryouts). Please help (my friend get better or help me to be my best). Thanks, God, for listening.”
Praying the psalms is one way to talk with God. Writing your own psalms is another. After a while, talking with God will be as easy and natural as talking with the people around you. And when that happens, remember to say, “Thank you, God!”
© 2006 D. M. Flynn
D. M. Flynn is a freelance writer and musician who has published in Cadet Quest, Club Connection, Guide, High Adventure, Live Wire, On the Line, Pockets, Story Friends, and Winner.
CLICK HERE to find a puzzle about people in the Bible who prayed.