Praying the Psalms
St Faith’s, Lee-on-the-Solent
Action and finally …
• I will help when someone asks and not leave it to
chance, or to someone else. I will thank God for the gifts that I have - that have come
• I will accept the notion that I am made in the image
of God, I will hear the cries for help in the world, I
will listen to them and I will respond.
3rd Week of Lent
Something to read ...
Crossing a range of mountains in a heavy snowstorm he
was joined by a Tibetan who was afraid of going alone. The Psalm 54
cold was so intense that they had already begun to despair
of reaching their destination alive, when they saw a man
who had slipped down a slope of snow some thirty feet Behold, God is my help
below the path, lying unconscious. The Sadhu asked his
companion to help him carry the man to the village. The 1 Save me, O God, by your name
Tibetan, telling him that he was a fool to try and help and vindicate me by your power.
another man when he could barely save himself, left him
and hurried on ahead. 2 Hear my prayer, O God;
give heed to the words of my mouth.
The Sadhu went down the slope and just managed to get
back on to the road again with the man on his shoulders 3 For strangers have risen up against me,
and struggled slowly along. Some distance farther on he and the ruthless seek after my life;
perceived his former companion sitting by the wayside. He they have not set God before them.
called, but there was no answer - he was frozen dead. The
Sadhu himself meanwhile had become thoroughly warmed 4 Behold, God is my helper;
by his exertions and, as a result of this warmth and of the it is the Lord who upholds my life.
friction between their bodies, the man he carried gradually
became warmer and came to; and both reached the village 5 May evil rebound on those who lie in wait for me;
alive and full of thankfulness. destroy them in your faithfulness.
Sadhu Sundar Singh, in B.H. Street and A.J. Appasamy, The 6 An offering of a free heart will I give you
Sadhu. 1921. and praise your name, O Lord, for it is gracious.
Compare this with the story of the Good Samaritan in 7 For he has delivered me out of all my trouble,
Luke 10:25 - 37 and my eye has seen the downfall of my enemies.
Introduction Psalm 54 Meditation
And God said….
Five Psalms for Lent: one big question, one poem and three ‘God help me’ is the cry of despair.
prayers. In each of the five weeks of Lent a Psalm for each And God say’s ‘ok!’
week provides us with thoughts for prayer and a fresh way What do you mean by help?
of looking at ourselves. God doesn’t ask if we can pay or even for a life long
commitment to follow if all things turn out well - God just What do you really want me to do for you?
Psalm 52 asks us to ponder the nature of our humanity. Is helps. Do you want me to solve all your problems, your
the purpose of life to be comfortable and accumulate riches
or to seek God, to trust God and to know God’s goodness? Granted, God doesn’t always help in the way we ask, hope or conflicts, your brokenness, your sickness?
expect. Sometimes we struggle to find any evidence of help
Psalm 53 is a poem confronting the nature of our own at all, but one way or another, God does.
relationship with God. The fear of God is the beginning of And I said …
wisdom, but where does this lead? The human relationship with God is different from our
relationship with one another and in saying that ‘God is my
Psalm 54 leads us to prayer. In the face of our relationship helper’ we have to think differently. When seeking God’s I want you to be there for me but not to take away all
with our world, we need help but we ourselves can be the help, it is different from asking assistance from Tom, Dick or that you have given me.
helping hands of God. Harriet. God is neither just slave or servant to human wants
and needs, God is God. And God does what gods do - which I want you to assure me, to let me know that you are
Psalm 55 gets personal, this is not just about us, it is about is to surprise us. there for me and that you believe in me.
me! I’m not sure I can cope, I want out - but God will help
and I’ll be ok. The Psalms give us songs to sing and prayers to say. In this I, with my sisters and brothers really can do many of
case, in verses 1- 2 the Psalmist helps us to ask for help. In these things, but not without you.
Psalm 56 asks us to look at how much we trust God. How verse 3 he says why - the world is rising up against me but
confident are we in our faith? verses 4 - 5 express confidence that God will do what we
ask. This isn’t a prayer of desperation - it is a prayer of Amen.
That’s the summary - but the psalms have the ability and the confidence and the response in verses 6 - 7 is a vow of
potential to take us to many different places. sacrifice (a human response) and thanksgiving for all that God
does and is.
This exploration of five psalms might help to give us a
perception of their depth and power to challenge both our The Psalm raises questions about the power and the will of Prayers
thinking and our desire to be too comfortable. God (which ought to make us ask questions about our own
power and our own will). What can God do? What will God
• For those who are without any sense of hope, who
A leaflet for each week in Lent introduces the Psalm and do?
despair of life and feel completely on their own.
then offers a meditation, some focus for prayer, some
suggestions for other Biblical passages to read and finally, We somehow imagine that it is possible for God to change
• Or those who don’t know where to turn.
some suggestions for action. the course of history, to prevent wars and to cure illness but
for some incredible reason God chooses not to. Perhaps
God’s trust in us to do these things is so complete that his • For the courage to know that God can help others
Make time to read and re-read the Psalm so that the words
real gift is just to be there when we cry out for help. through me - through my compassion, through my
(and God) can enter your prayers, then give time for the
generosity and through my love.
meditation and if you wish, use the items for prayer as a
• For the times when I need help - for the confidence
to ask and the grace to receive.