You are invited to join us in the month of May and June 2016 to read all of the Psalms each month, with morning and evening readings.
How can we learn to pray more effectively? When we are bombarded with so much in society that is in opposition to the gospel, how can we pray with depth and integrity?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a small book of his writings called “The Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible” (1970), encourages us to enter into the “prayer of Christ” for it is in Him that we know our prayer is heard (p 11). If we want to pray with confidence, Bonhoeffer says, then we need to turn to the Holy Scriptures. He encourages us in our prayer life to focus on one book of the Bible that is made up almost solely of prayers, that is the book of Psalms. He goes on to say (p 14) that as we pray the psalms we need to ask first not what they have to do with us, “but what they have to do with Christ.” The psalms, argues Bonhoeffer (p 25) are meant to be prayed daily otherwise when we dip in occasionally they are too weighty in “design and power” and we end up wanting a more palatable, easier way to pray. He encourages us to pray the Psalter “seriously and regularly”. Bonhoeffer (p 26) believes that when the daily reading of the psalms is abandoned by the church a great treasure is lost, but with its recovery “unsuspected power” will come. Billy Graham (2014) , recounts how he also discovered this power as he read through 5 Psalms every day and completing the whole book of Psalms every month.
The Basis of Union, paragraph 5 states that the Uniting church “ lays upon its members the serious duty of reading the Scriptures”. It is interesting to note this word “serious” is the same word that Bonhoeffer used (p25). The Psalms is a good place to begin with this “serious duty” of reading the Scriptures. The Basis of Union encourages this not just for Ministers and leaders but for all the members of the Uniting Church.
During the last few months I have rediscovered the treasure of praying the Psalms daily and would invite you to join with me in this endeavor at the beginning of May. There is great power in this as we pray for our church and nation at this time. Reading of the Psalms is the first of patterns of bible reading that the ACC Council have agreed to encourage our devotional prayer life. More will be coming in what we are calling “Bible Reading Witness”.
The idea for May and June is every morning and evening to read out loud or sing the following Psalms. Remember what Bonhoeffer encouraged us to do is to first ask “what does this have to do with Christ”. If you miss a morning or evening don’t worry about it or try to make it up. Simply go on with the next day. This is a communal reading of the Psalms. If you didn’t read it someone else will. Commit only for May and June at this stage and see how you go. Some of you might want to continue. I started in January and found it so rich that like Bonhoeffer and Billy Graham I don’t want to stop. Please let me know if you are committing to the daily Psalms readings so we can encourage one another in prayer.
May the Lord bless us all in May as we read and pray the Psalms together.
Grace and Peace in our Lord Jesus Christ
Graham, Billy (2014) foreword to Words of Wisdom: A life-changing journey through psalms and proverbs by George M. Wilson. Tyndale 2014
Bonhoeffer , Dietrich. Psalms, The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1970.