As we’ve been going through the Psalms, we have talked a lot about meditation and prayer. We have been taught how to sit with the text, think it over, and to respond in worship and prayer to God through contemplation, confession, petition and praise.
Here are a few ways for you to develop this habit on your own. Our prayer is that you would cultivate such a closeness with God himself that you would know him as your Abba, and yourself as his beloved child. As Brennan Manning puts it, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.”
Recommended resources and guides:
THE SONGS OF JESUS ~ TIM KELLER
The Book of Psalms is known as the Bible’s songbook—Jesus knew all 150 psalms intimately, and relied on them to face every situation, including his death.
Two decades ago, Tim Keller began reading the entire Book of Psalms every month. The Songs of Jesusis based on his accumulated years of study, insight, and inspiration recorded in his prayer journals. Kathy Keller came to reading the psalms as a support during an extended illness. Together they have distilled the meaning of each verse, inviting readers into the vast wisdom of the psalms.
If you have no devotional life yet, this book is a wonderful way to start. If you already spend time in study and prayer, understanding every verse of the psalms will bring you a new level of intimacy with God, unlocking your purpose within God’s kingdom.
Answering God ~ Eugene Peterson
Eugene H. Peterson speaks to Christians who realize the necessity for prayer and yearn for it but who find their prayer unconvincing and unsatisfying. Addressing the causes of this dissatisfaction, Answering God offers guidelines for using the Psalms as dynamic tools for prayer.
Prayer ~ Tim Keller
Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.
With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.
Dr. Keller’s previous books have sold more than one million copies. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church is not only a major presence in his home base of New York, it has also helped to launch more than two hundred fifty other churches in forty-eight cities around the world. His teachings have already helped millions, the majority of whom pray regularly. And with Prayer, he’ll show them how to find a deeper connection with God.
THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER ~ James Wood
As essential to the canon as the Bible and the plays of Shakespeare, The Book of Common Prayer has been in daily use for centuries. Originally produced for the Church of England in the sixteenth century by Thomas Cranmer, who was burned at the stake upon the accession to the throne of the ardently Catholic Queen Mary, it contains the entire liturgy as first presented in English-as well as some of the oldest phrases to be used by modern English speakers. H ere are daily prayers, scripture readings, psalm recitals, and the services marking such religious milestones as baptism, confirmation, and marriage, all from the 1662 edition, whose influence can be seen in the work of some of the greatest writers in English literature, from Donne and Swift to Austen and the Brontës.
This beautiful deluxe edition includes a new introduction by The New Yorker's book critic James Wood, discussing how The Book of Common Prayer has influenced the English language and literature. Its small trim size allows for easy portability as a daily devotional.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
I found these in Tim Keller’s books The Songs of Jesus and Prayer. They have proved to be very helpful to my daily rhythm of prayer and worship.
Read a psalm or a specific text twice slowly. Then ask three questions and write out your answers:
- Adore - What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him?
- Admit - What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent?
- Aspire - What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, and act on?
*taken from the introduction of The Songs of Jesus
A Pattern for daily Prayer
Ask him for his presence and help as you read and pray.
Choose from one of these scriptural invocations :
Psalm 16:8; 27:4, 9-10; 40:16-19; 63:1-3; 84:5-7; 103:1-2; 139:7-10; Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 11:28-30; John 4:23; Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:16-20
Bible Reading and Meditation
(keep in mind that no one can do all of the following in any one session of meditation and prayer.)
To study the passage: Read it three or four times. Then make a list of everything it says about God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); list anything that it tells you about yourself; and finally, list any examples to be followed, commands to be obeyed (or things that need to be avoided), and promises to claim. When all this is done, choose the verse and truth that is most striking and helpful to you. Paraphrase the thought or verse in your own words.
To meditate on the passage: Write down answers to the following questions:
- What does this text show me about God for which I should praise or thank him?
- What does the text show me about my sin that I should confess and repent of? What false attitudes, behavior, emotions, or idols come alive in me whenever I forget this truth?
- What does the text show me about a need that I have? What do I need to do or become in light of this? How shall I ask God for this?
- How is Jesus Christ or the grace that I have in him crucial to helping me overcome the sin I have confessed or to answering the need I have?
- How would this change my life if I took it seriously - if this truth were fully alive and effective in my inward being? Also, why might God be showing this to me now? What is going on in my life today that he would be bringing this to my attention today?
Pray each of the meditations:
- thanksgiving for Jesus and his salvation.
Pray for your needs and pressing concerns. Take a final moment just to enjoy him and his presence.
- Tim Keller (Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God) pg 252,253
- Evening and Morning Prayer - Thoughts from me.
- Follow the Pattern given in Psalm 4 and 5 of evening and morning prayer.
Read a psalm or portion of scripture before going to bed. Take the truths that you read and turn them into prayer. A great habit is to commit your hopes, dreams, fears, your attempts to seek God’s kingdom, into God’s hands as you lay down to rest. Essentially praying - God I commit my life, every aspect of it, into your hands. Pray through the Lord’s prayer
When you wake up in the morning read a psalm or portion of scripture and begin to present yourself, the things of the day, the evils and potential for sin and temptation to the Lord asking the Lord to take the mess of our lives and to make something worshipful out of it. Essentially we are praying for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Use the Lord’s prayer as a guide.