Until recent decades, the Psalms have been a mainstay for individual and corporate prayer for Christians. For 2000 years, churches sang and prayed the Psalms so frequently that many Christians knew them by heart. In some traditions (Catholic, Anglican, Christian Reformed, to name a few), this is still the case. But for the vast majority of us who identify as Evangelical Protestants, the Psalms are not close at hand.
In our clamor for fresh worship songs, we have lost sight of one of the most precious resources of our historic faith. We cherish the fact that we can come to God just as we are, but our "vocabulary" is rather limited. We naturally gravitate toward certain languages and certain topics when we pray. To be frank, our prayers often become unimaginative and dull. Believers can still value the authenticity that comes from spontaneous prayer while expanding our language for prayer by praying the Psalms.
I'm delighted to share with you a new devotional resource that I hope will strengthen our collective prayer muscles and provide companionship on our spiritual journey. Praying the Psalms with Augustine and Friends is an anthology of devotional reflections on the Psalms by over two dozen early Christian writers. I've selected a few paragraphs on each psalm by a wide range of voices spanning the first 15 centuries of the church — Augustine, John Calvin, Gertrude the Great, Mary Sidney Herbert and many others. Most, if not all, of these writers, prayed through the Psalms regularly and would have known them by heart. I found their words inspiring, challenging and enlightening, and I hope you do, too.
Does your prayer life feel anemic? Are you hungry for a deeper connection with God? Consider praying through the Psalms in 2022. Praying the Psalms contains a reading plan that will take you through the entire book of Psalms in eight weeks by reading and praying just three psalms a day. Alternatively, you can meditate on one psalm a day and make it through the Psalms twice a year.
The devotional is not meant to replace the Psalms, but to be read alongside them. You can read alone or recruit a friend or two to join you.
All of the Sacred Roots Spiritual Classics are divided into eight "chapters" so that they are easy to read with a group over eight weeks. Each chapter has discussion questions. And each week, you'll find a free companion video on the Sacred Roots YouTube channel in which I introduce the next "chapter" of the book. Here's my introduction to the series:
This volume is the first in the Sacred Roots Spiritual Classics series funded by the Lilly Foundation. Volume 2, Becoming a Community of Disciples, was edited by another Biola faculty member, Greg Peters. The series is one dimension of the Sacred Roots Thriving in Ministry project led by Hank Voss of Taylor University, which seeks to connect under-resourced pastors with the riches of our historic faith. You can learn more about the larger project on the Sacred Roots website. The Lilly Foundation covered the cost of producing the first 16 volumes, so all the income from sales of the book will fund the second series of spiritual classics. You can order a copy of Praying the Psalms or Becoming a Community of Disciples on Amazon.
May 2022 be a rich year for all of us as we expand our prayer language and practice bringing our whole selves into the presence of God!
This post and other resources are available at Carmen Imes’ blog, Chastened Intuitions: Reading Scripture and Reading Life through Trained Eyes of Faith.