. . . singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
The Most Holy Name of Mary (Optional Memorial)
It’s easy to see why the psalms have been the mainstay of Jewish and Christian prayer for centuries: they are a window into the human heart as well as a window into God’s heart. Whatever we are feeling at the moment, there is a psalm that expresses it. And no matter what emotion has taken hold of us, when we pray along with the psalmist, we are reminded of God’s strength, faithfulness, compassion, and tenderness toward us.
As a devout Jew, Jesus often prayed the psalms. He knew them by heart and drew on them at many different times and occasions, as the Gospels reveal. So when we pray the psalms, we are praying the same words that Jesus used to pray to his Father. In that sense, Jesus’ prayer language becomes our own; it is as if Jesus were praying in us. When we pray the psalms, we can also experience Jesus praying with us, as we join him in praying to our heavenly Father.
Among the 150 psalms are psalms of lament, thanksgiving, praise, repentance, and petition. Today’s Responsorial Psalm, a psalm of praise, ends with this exhortation: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (150:6). It sounds a lot like St. Paul’s exhortation in today’s first reading: he urges the Colossians, and us, to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” to God (Colossians 3:16). Singing psalms and songs of praise is especially helpful for us because they can shift our focus from ourselves to God. They can help us see our lives from God’s eternal perspective and not just from our own limited viewpoint. And God’s perspective is always far more hope filled and inspiring than ours!
The psalms are a rich part of the Church’s liturgical prayer, but they also belong to each of us. We can make them a part of our personal prayer as well.
Try to spend some time today using the Responsorial Psalm to help guide your prayer. Maybe even try to do this for the next few days, and see how your prayer develops. Whatever you do, you can trust that when you pray the psalms, God’s word will be making its home deep within your heart (Colossians 3:16).
“Jesus, may your word dwell in me richly.”
Word Among Us