When you want to ascend too quickly, the psalms will grab you by the heel and pull you back to earth. With the psalms there’s no posturing or pretending before God—no tidy language offered to God, no flowery nonsense. Angry? There are psalms to help you voice your rage. Confused? There are psalms for that too. And there are psalms that’ll give you words when you’re holding a newborn, when your bank account's overdrawn, your lover’s betrayed you, cancer’s trying to kill you, the government’s a mess, or you’re standing in awe before a sunset. The psalms pull all the anatomy of the human soul onto the path toward God—nothing inappropriate, unwelcome, or excluded. They'll penetrate your pretension and puncture your denial; they'll make you more human, and therefore more nearly divine. Pray a psalm a day. If it’s long, pray part of it. And I suggest you chant or sing it. After all, the word, psalm, means “song.” Merely speaking a psalm is inconsistent with its nature—a little like using a spoon as a mirror; sure, you’ll see yourself, but poorly.

There are, of course, techniques for chanting the psalms, and there are many good books to help you. But I urge you to simply try it. Just gently let your voice interpret the words you’re singing—in your own way, a simple, even faltering little tune. Look, you’re not giving a performance; you’re sitting before the One who takes great delight in whatever you offer; and you’re offering these old words just as they instruct you to offer them, as a “new song” rising from your heart (Psalm 96.1).

And as you do, God smiles. Guaranteed.

For more meditations on the Daily Guide/Rule of Life, click on the blog category, “Daily Guide/Rule of Life”

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AuthorChris Neufeld-Erdman