MAKE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO PRAY THE PSALMS WITH UNDERSTANDING, AND FIND SUPPORT HERE!
YOU WILL BE BLESSED
LIKE TREES PLANTED BY THE LIVING WATER
SO THAT, NO MATTER WHAT LIFE BRINGS,
YOU WILL NOT WITHER
FOR YOUR ROOTS WILL GO DEEP INTO CHRIST
WHY PRAY THE PSALMS?
I realize many of you are in other studies, and I am going to be careful not to overwhelm you so that you can join us. We are not going to race through the psalms, but instead walk contemplatively through the first book (Psalms 1 through 41). I recommend, even if you cannot do all of the study, to add praying through the psalms to transform your prayer life with power and wisdom. Saints like Basil, Bonhoeffer, and Bono have prayed the psalms as a habit, and we should pay attention to how this formed them into the kind of men that bore such rich fruit, including the fruit of inextinguishable joy.
This quote from Bonhoeffer has been a life-changing one for me:
It is a dangerous error, certainly very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, whether the heart is full or empty, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For this we need the psalms…
Likewise, George Mueller found himself distracted and weak in prayer until he began with the Word, striving to make his soul happy in the Lord, and then used those very scriptures that had quickened him as a basis for his prayer. Keller echoes this. We will do the same. It’s going to be amazing — and it will be amazing to do it with this group, for we are like iron-sharpening iron. Thank God!
FOR THOSE JUST JOINING US!
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FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO GET AN EXTRA RESOURCE
You don’t have to have anything other than your Bible and a willingness to buy some mp-3 sermons from Tim Keller and Mike Reeve (I’ll give you a free one whenever possible, but sometimes there will be a cost of 2.50, but I will only do it if I think it is GOLDEN. Even then, it will be optional.) I will be providing commentary. I’d rather you stay with us than get overwhelmed and drop out. If you can’t afford the time or money for the sermons, then skip them and do what you can. You will still be richly blessed!
However, if you’d like to get an extra resource, I would recommend these, on the basis of my own personal use and the recommendations of people I highly respect:
1) Derek Kidner’s Two Volume Commentary on Psalms (20 dollars, Tim Keller’s top recommendation) Kidner is concise, so this will not overwhelm you.
C. S. Lewis said to read old books, and I believe that includes old commentaries. We ourselves have seen how the interpretation of The Song of Songs has changed. This is also true, though not quite so drastically, of the psalms. The old commentaries always saw Christ in the psalms — today the focus seems to be us. Here are two of the best which are also available online, though it is nice to have the books:
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. Will you join us? If so, why?
Monday/Tuesday: GETTING READY
Read this page (link) originally from Redeemer’s website but posted on another website. Read through the suggestions (You don’t need to go on to do Psalm 131 unless you like)
3. What was helpful and why?
CHRIST IN THE PSALMS
When Jesus met with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, he showed them how He was in the psalms.
4. What did Jesus tell the disciples in Luke 24:44?
Many today read the Bible as if it all about us, but the Bible is all about Christ. Those who have been in this group have been blessed by listening to many Tim Keller sermons. Tim Keller is bringing back Christ-centered teaching to the church — the kind of preaching that used to be heard in men like Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers. Keller helps us to see how Christ is at the center of every book. Kirsten Powers, an anchor for Fox News, came to Christ in Keller’s church. Her boyfriend asked her to come, and she found Keller fascinating, but her initial response made me smile, for she said:
“Any person who is familiar with Keller’s preaching knows that he usually brings Jesus in at the end of the sermon to tie his points together. For the first few months, I left feeling frustrated: Why did he have to ruin a perfectly good talk with this Jesus nonsense?”
(If you’d like to read her whole testimony, here is a link to Christianity Today’s article on her: Link
But it was the exaltation of Christ that melted Kirsten’s heart. In the same way, seeing Christ in the psalms will melt you and help you to pray the psalms rightly.
Have you begun to see Christ as the heart of the Bible instead of yourself? If so, give a testimony on how that impacts you.
Mike Reeves, in a message we will listen to this week, said not to think of the psalms as a hymnbook in which we can just flip to a psalm, pick it out, and pray it, but rather like Handel’s Messiah. It has a continuity, a flow, so you should study it consecutively, and see the flow.
5. Consider the book ends of Book 1 of the Psalter (Psalms 1-41)
A. How does the first psalm in Book 1 of the psalter begin? (Psalm 1:1)
B. The ancients saw Psalms 1 and 2 as one piece. How does Psalm 2 end?
B. How does the last psalm in Book 1 of the psalter begin? (Psalm 41:1)
C. How does the last psalm in Book 1 end? (Psalm 41:12)
D. What book-end theme do you see? Do you see the gospel? If so, how?
WEDNESDAY: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
MAY YOUR HEART BE MELTED BY WHAT YOU SEE ABOUT CHRIST TODAY
I have prayed the psalms for years, and they have changed my prayer life. But as I am seeing, more and more, how Christ is at the center of the psalms, my prayers are heating up, and I think yours will as well. Today, we will see how Christ is at the heart of the first three psalms, and then we will pray a passage from Psalm 1 today, Psalm 2 on Thursday, and Psalm 3 on Friday. We will go back to Psalm 1 next week — but my purpose this week is to give you an overview of Christ in the Psalms.
6. Patrick Reardon says the first three psalms form a tripod on which all the others psalms rest, showing Christ as Man, Messiah, and Suffering Servant.
A. How can you see Christ as Man in the 1st psalm? How did Jesus live out the truths of the man who was blessed?
B. How can you see Christ as Messiah in the 2nd psalm?
C. How can you see Christ as The Suffering Servant in the 3rd psalm?
PRAYING PSALM 1 NEW YEAR’S DAY
We will look at Psalms 1 and 2 more carefully next week. This week is just a quick dip into Psalm 1, but I want you to see Christ. Mike Reeves shows the continuity between these two psalms, showing how the King of Psalm 2 whom God exalts on his holy hill is Jesus. That King is also fully man, a man who meditated on the Word day and night. Tim Keller says that Scripture continually flowed out of Jesus, from His temptation by satan to His last words on the cross. He “bled” Scripture.
7. READ THE PSALM AND THEN PRAY AS FOLLOWS:
A. A sentence of praise for what you learned about Christ:
B. A plea that He would so dwell in you that His desires would be your desires, and that He would help you meditate day and night (Optional — pray through Psalm 1 for your loved ones)
Thursday/Friday: Listen to Mike Reeves, and pray, as guided, Psalms 2 and 3.
Pray Psalm 2, JAN 2
8. READ THE PSALM AND THEN PRAY AS FOLLOWS
A. Praise God for the holiness and sovereignty you see in Christ in this psalm.
B. Ask the Lord to help you trust Him in the midst of unfair circumstances in your life and allow Him to be your King
(Optional: Pray this for your family members as well.)
Listen to Mike Reeves introduction to the Psalms — If you like, just listen to the first 21 and a half minutes, for then he goes onto Book 2, though that is rich too:
9. There is much here but I want you to particularly share:
A. What stood out to you
B. His perspective on how to read the psalms — what do you think?
C. His comparisons to the 1st book of Psalms with the 1st book of Moses – what do you remember?
Friday: Praying Psalm 3
10. Read Psalm 3 and then pray as follows:
A. Praise God for Christ’s suffering for you and His trust in God during His suffering
B. Ask God to help Christ’s fullness dwell in you that you might trust during your suffering, clinging to Him.
(Optional: Pray this for your loved ones as well.)
11. What is your take-a-way and why?