Find Joy by Praying with this Week’s Beautiful Psalms
For many, the Psalms offer a word of comfort and consolation during difficult times. For others, Psalms are prayers that groan from within the heart when no words can be found. They are beautiful, timeless, sung, and honest. Perhaps that is why they are so appealing: they give rise to the stirrings of every human heart, from lamentation to praise to thanksgiving to petition.
This week, we visit the Psalms of David. On Thursday, the Responsorial Psalm is actually taken from 1 Chronicles, but it is still a prayer from King David during his reign. Every verse bespeaks a King mightier, more merciful, more glorious, and more treasured than any earthly king. To Him none can compare.
May we be strengthened and renewed in spirit by reflecting upon these Psalms that remind us who are battle weary that the war has already been won. We simply must be faithful to the Conquerer, the Victor, the King of kings.
But you, O Lord, are my shield; my glory, you lift up my head! (Psalm 3:4)
I am often weary, Lord. Living in this day and age can be so draining. At times, I feel so empty, so hollow, so helpless. It is difficult for me to even lift my head in prayer to you – to make eye contact with a holy image of you, for I feel so weak and powerless. I am defeated by the daily battles I face.
But you remind me today that I needn’t feel ashamed. You are the One who reaches down with your gentle and strong hand to lift my chin so that we can face each other. My God, my King, You tell me that You will guard me against whatever perils or setbacks I may face today. You shield me from harm. You protect me with Your goodness.
Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading. (Psalm 86:6)
Sometimes I feel as if my prayers fall upon deaf ears, Lord. It’s not that I disbelieve You are listening. It’s just that you so often choose to remain silent – at least for a time. And I feel as if I am drifting away from this love-relationship with You that I so long for and desire.
I read this Psalm today, and I realize that, for thousands of years, Your people have been in a state of desperation and perhaps deprivation. Even when I am on the brink of caving into despair and am tempted to turn my back on You, I regain hope in this prayer, because I know You hear me. I know that, if I am faithful to You and turn to You again and again, You will come to my aid.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you in time of stress. Though deep waters overflow, they shall not reach him. (Psalm 32:6)
Life so often feels like I’m drowning, or at the very least, swimming against the tide. I am overworked and overwhelmed, too busy keeping up with the rush of every day to really pause and appreciate the vast ocean of Your mercy that surrounds me.
It is often this Divine Mercy that swallows me, envelops me, and yet I feel the waves of Your love are too powerful for me. I am unworthy. I don’t deserve to be consumed by You. But I thank you, dear loving Father, for embracing me in this strange sea of silence. I know You are with me, nearer than I realize.
In your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:12)
I don’t feel much like a warrior these days. It takes every ounce of energy I have to keep up with my life as it is. Sometimes I wonder why I am a cog in a wheel, spinning into oblivion. Where is power and might? It is not with me. It isn’t in my hands.
But I look up to You and remember that it’s precisely my nothingness, my emptiness that You desire. It is necessary for me to become so small and so weak that Your strength overcomes me. You cannot fill a heart that is arrogant or complicated. What You require from me is simply my exhaustion, my weakness. And then, only then, you will give me all of Your strength, so that others may see You in me.
Who is this king of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle. (Psalm 24:8)
Most of the time, it seems as if all goodness and truth has been vanquished from the earth. I cannot see beauty as easily as I once did as a child. It’s hard to actualize what has become murky through my suffering and sin.
As I read that You are the “king of glory,” it really seems a mockery. Where is the glory, Lord? When all has been exhausted from every fiber of my being, there is no glory or gumption – only gloom. I am ready to give up this fight, but then I read that Your strong arm fights on my behalf. The war has already been won, but when I can no longer go on as I’ve been, You intervene in mighty and surprising ways to sweep me to victory.
Within my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you. (Psalm 119: 11)
There are so many treasures that occupy my heart, Lord, many of which are not heavenly. These earthly things that enter my mind so frequently are precisely what turn my heart and soul against you. Thus, I sin because of longing to possess what does not belong to me (coveting), wanting a life of luxury and comfort (vanity), or hoping to become someone in my own right to leave a lasting legacy in the wake of my death (pride).
You must become my only Treasure, Lord – my all in all. I do not wish to sin, yet do so because of what St. Paul wrote: I do not do the good I wish to do, but I do the evil I do not wish to do. What have You promised me? I’m not sure I’ll understand it in this life, but I do know that I must seek Your kingdom first and its righteousness, and all these things will be given to me besides.