Praying the Psalms {or “I No Longer Think David Was a Whiner”}

I can be, well let’s just say, I can be overly emotional. I like to blame it on my mid-forties hormones but the truth is, I’ve always been this way. I come by it honest — my Bigmama is, as my Aunt Mollianne says, “a force of nature.” I feel things deeply, believe things strongly, and speak things passionately. I get tears in my eyes every time the band plays “Star-Spangled Banner” before a football game and I laugh hysterically at the cat and cucumber videos every time I watch them on YouTube.

One would think, being such an emotional wreck myself most of the time, I’d love the Psalms. Every one is a feelings-rich piece of poetry from desperate pleas for help to glorious hymns of praise to the Almighty God. But truthfully, when I’d read David’s words I often felt annoyed with him.

David did something I haven't always done—David took it all to the Lord. And all that taking it to the Lord became a whole bunch of Psalms—prayers and songs of heartache and fear and worry and praise and celebration.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how different portions of Scripture affect us differently? For so many people, the Psalms are their “go to” place for reassurance, for comfort. But for me, they just felt like a long, lonely walk. Frustrating and empty.

I spent several years avoiding them, turning to those pages in my Bible only when a Bible study or sermon demanded it. Marking up page after page in Isaiah and Philippians, but leaving Scripture’s songbook largely untouched.

And then …

In 2014, I got my first journaling Bible. I love working my way through the pages, highlighting the familiar passages I loved and creating my own feeble attempts at art as worship. One day, during a particularly frustrating week, I opened my Bible to Psalm 37. I hadn’t planned to read that passage. But somehow that’s where I landed.

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
 For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

Psalm 37:1-9

Fret not …

Three times in these verses the Psalmist writes those two words—fret not. I looked up the word fret. It means to “be constantly or visibly worried or anxious.” Fret not, indeed.

Here’s the thing, all those emotions I have, all those feelings? The overriding one is almost always anxiety. I am a fret-er. In fact, if fretting was an Olympic sport, well, let’s just say I’d be a gold medalist.

My brain never slows down, never stops thinking about all I should be doing, all I haven’t done, all I’ve messed up, all. the. stuff. just goes round and round in my head, all. the. time.

Taking it to the Lord

Which brings me back to my disdain for the Psalms. Here’s the thing: I have decided maybe David and I have more in common than I thought. He had a lot of anxiety in his life. You know, like King Saul wanting to kill him and all. But David did something I haven’t always done—David took it all to the Lord. And all that taking it to the Lord became a whole bunch of Psalms—prayers and songs of heartache and fear and worry and praise and celebration.

It's powerful and hard and emotional. And it's convicting to me. Because I'm the girl who tries to do it all and fix it all and manage it all and, when I can't do all of that, I'm the girl who tries to cover it all up and say things like "I'm fine." The Psalms don't let me do that. The Psalms require me to bare it all and be honest about my fears and failures, my circumstances and celebrations. The Psalms go deeper than my feelings and emotions. The Psalms burrow deep into my heart and my mind, opening wide all the places I try to keep hidden.

It’s powerful and hard and emotional. And it’s convicting to me. Because I’m the girl who tries to do it all and fix it all and manage it all and, when I can’t do all of that, I’m the girl who tries to cover it all up and say things like “I’m fine.”

The Psalms don’t let me do that. The Psalms require me to bare it all and be honest about my fears and failures, my circumstances and celebrations. The Psalms go deeper than my feelings and emotions. The Psalms burrow deep into my heart and my mind, opening wide all the places I try to keep hidden.

The Psalms require me to dig deep and open up the parts I'd rather keep hidden. Click To Tweet

For a long time, I avoided the Psalms. But lately, I head there. I read Psalm 37 and lay down my worries and anxieties. I read Psalm 119 and thank God for the power of His Word. I read Psalm 139 and confess the layers of stubbornness and pride and sin. I read Psalm 150 and celebrate the greatness of God.

Maybe you are a fret-er? Maybe your brain never slows down? Maybe you carry the weight of all the expectations and failures? Maybe your fears control you? Or maybe you’ve just lost sight of how good and sovereign God is …

Read the Psalms. Pray the Psalms. Whisper the Psalms. Shout the Psalms. Live the Psalms.

I’ll meet you there!

xo,

Teri Lynne

If you want a little help in praying the Psalms, we’ll be praying through the first 30 in July. Even if you don’t have a daughter, the Prayers for Girls prayer calendars are a great resource for helping you pray for yourself and the other women in your life. Subscribe today to get your calendar and join over 1600 women who are praying for their girls and themselves.

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