SELAH Summer 2017
KINGDOM SONGS, a summer focus on the Psalms, is an invitation to Missio Dei to participate in the kingdom of GOD by learning afresh how to pray, celebrate, yearn, lament and abide in the presence of the living GOD as the people of GOD. As a “spiritual diary of a people [Israel] over several centuries of their life story,” the Psalms not only help us find and express our voice, but they train and guide us in how to live in relationship with our GOD of refuge. This summer, as we trek through 10 or more Psalms, we will join our voices in the KINGDOM SONGS, “an anatomy of the soul,” which have marked the story of Israel, JESUS CHRIST, the early church all the way into our modern sanctuaries and communities. With our hearts quickened to the presence of the HOLY SPIRIT, the Psalms are sure to edify, sanctify, encourage, validate and challenge every one of us. May our hearts, hands and voices be aligned with CHRIST’s as we pursue HIS kingdom together.
You are all invited and challenged to join in as we abide in GOD through the Psalms this summer. Instead of having a weekly sermon discussion guide provided for gospel community leaders, this document provides 3 (of many other!) ways for you to engage the Psalms individually and communally, a resource reading list for further study, and a Psalm writing guide to help you soak in and practice praying the Psalms. Consider committing to praying, reading and mediating on the entire Psalter this summer! From June through August, if you read 1-3 Psalms a day, depending on their length, you could cover the whole book!
Download your Devotional & Resource Guide HERE
Watch this helpful video from The Bible Project on The Psalms
This is a time to come together with the men and women of MD Wrigleyville to spend time with God. If you are someone who would like to spend time with God but you are not really sure what that would look like, this time is for you as a learner. Or, if you are already comfortable spending time with God but could benefit from having a time scheduled and set apart to do so, then this time is for you also. Bring a bible, pen and journal if you have one!
The Psalms are uniquely capable of helping us learn how to pray, how to express ourselves faithfully, and how to see how it is that GOD meets us in the myriad of experiences we encounter in life. This summer, as we look to the Psalms to teach us how to pray, abide and worship, let's also let them train us in how to write our own prayers, praises and petitions! These Psalm-writing prompts are a great way to begin learning how to process and write down your own poems and prayers. Use the prompts herein to get you going. Certainly be creative, but don't worry about getting it right or making it beautiful. The point is to encounter GOD in freedom and honesty, so "let your requests be made known to GOD" and cast "all your anxieties on HIM, because HE cares for you."
We will also have prompts available in the overflow room and in a display this Psalm collection throughout the summer. We pray this will be a time for us to collectively cry out to GOD with our own Kingdom songs.
8 Psalm Writing Prompts
1. Join your voice with the Psalmists
Pause and pray for your mind to settle down, and ask that GOD would accept this exercise as your offering to bless HIM as you write your prayer-song to HIM.
Line by line, rewrite an existing Psalm in your own words. If you don’t have a favorite in mind, here are some suggestions as a starting point:
Psalm 3 – about facing hard times and asking for GOD’s involvement.
Psalm 6 – about looking for a sign of GOD’s presence in the midst of sadness.
Psalm 8 - about praising GOD in adoration.
Psalm 13 – about trying to find faith in the middle of loneliness & depression.
Psalm 19 – about celebrating GOD and making confession.
Psalm 23 - about resting and trusting in GOD.
Psalm 40 – about waiting for God and expressing faith in the time of waiting.
Psalm 51 – about repentance
Psalm 55 – about being betrayed by someone close to you.
Psalm 56 – about feeling trapped, pinned down or captured.
2. Create a “Psalm collage”
Pause and pray for your mind to settle down, and for GOD to speak through HIS Word to you.
Write down several themes that you love throughout the Psalms. These should be ideas or lines that stand out to you, and have personal impact.
Some examples of themes and/or verses:
GOD as refuge, shepherd or source of strength
Afflicted crying out for GOD’s justice
Remembering past provisions of GOD
Clinging to future promises of GOD
GOD as ever-present help in trouble
“Be still and know that I am GOD.”
“Create in me a clean heart.”
“HE has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
“All of creation sings HIS praise.”
Take 2-4 themes, even writing down the portions of the original Psalms that inspire you. Take these concepts, and use them as a framework to compose your own Psalm.
3. Write your own Psalm of confession
(Examples include Psalm 32, 51)
Pause to quiet your mind. Pray for distractions to fall away, and for an ability to bring yourself honestly and vulnerably before GOD with your confession.
GOD has promised forgiveness to all who confess their sins and repent (or turn back) to living according to GOD’s Word. This is a glorious promise indeed! While a Psalm of confession does not necessarily have to include naming the sin itself (although it can if that helps you repent of it), it does acknowledge your broken allegiance to your KING.
Pause and consider how it feels to be under the weight of your sin. Cry out to GOD from that place, explaining what you experience in light of the recognition (and under the burden of) your sin.
Next, declare or praise GOD for the promises that HE has made to reconcile anyone who confesses and repents. You may want to include some relevant character traits of GOD (ex: merciful, holy, faithful, etc). In this section, you are laying claim to HIS promise to forgive.
Additionally, you may consider adding how you feel upon reconciliation with GOD. Use emotive words and creative analogies - what does it feel like? What do you see, taste, touch and smell upon receiving forgiveness for your sin?
4. Write your own Psalm of petition
(Examples include Psalm 5, 6, 7, 38, 56, 102, 130, 143)
Pause to quiet your thoughts. Pray for distractions to fall away, and for deep awareness of your own heart and mind.
Consider one to three words that describe emotions that you’re experiencing.
Are there any specifics that you want to share about your situation? Release any pressure to write “correctly” here - process freely and honestly, especially as your pour out from the heart. Allow yourself to be emotive and creative in your description - there is freedom in poetic communication. What does it feel like? Sound like? Is there an analogy that might express the essence more than a direct description?
Pick the term(s) you’d like to use in addressing GOD - to Whom are you addressing your Psalm? Include descriptors as desired.
Describe the hope or desire of your heart - what would resolve the way you feel? What would it look like like to be healed? Use descriptive words.
What are some characteristics or promises of GOD that would help your situation?
Sit back, looking at the responses you wrote above. Allow yourself to write in a loose, free-flowing style, pouring these thoughts into your own Psalm to GOD. Remind yourself to cry out to HIM from the authentic depths of your emotions, and transition to declaring your trust in HIM and in HIS character, laying claim to HIS promises.
5. Compose a Psalm of thanksgiving
(For example, see Psalm 118, 136)
Pause and pray that your heart and mind could be especially in tune with all the ways that GOD has blessed you and been gracious unto you, both past and present.
Before you start composing your Psalm, pause and write things that you are thankful for. These may not all make it into your Psalm, but allowing a list to pour out onto the paper will shape your heart towards gratitude. Allow yourself to jump between big things and small, past things and present:
Look back over your list. Is there a theme that stands out to you? A particular word or group of words that most stirs your heart today? Make that your focus of this Psalm:
Now meditate on what characteristics of GOD this points to - who HE is, what promises HE has been faithful to, how you experience HIM as the recipient of this blessing:
Take these elements, pause to pray, and allow yourself to pour out the resulting prayer into a Psalm of thanksgiving!
6. Compose a Psalm of praise
(Examples include Psalms 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 and 100)
Pause and pray for your mind to settle down, and for your praise unto GOD to flow freely as you glorify HIS name.
Fill in some words to complete these statements:
“GOD, you are ______________.”
“GOD, I feel ________________ in your presence.”
“GOD, I am thankful for your _______________.”
Pick 2-4 words from above, and sit and ponder those thoughts. Describe how or why you feel that way, filling in your Psalm of praise with emotive and sensory descriptors (describe what you experience emotionally, using creative analogies; describe how it feels, smells, sounds, tastes). You might try including a climactic declaration of faithful allegiance to GOD because of HIS faithfulness, as many Psalm writers have done through the ages.
7. Compose a Psalm of timelessness
(Examples include Psalms 105, 106, 107)
Pause and pray for peace and clarity, and to sense the timelessness of GOD as you write.
GOD is the Alpha and Omega - the beginning and the end. This Psalm will place your current situation within the larger picture of GOD’s timelessness.
Cry out to GOD with your present situation:
Proclaim a truth of who GOD has been in the past (citing not only HIS character, but the actual story of HIS faithfulness):
Declare a future promise that you can cling to, as GOD brings about HIS renewal, and we look to the fulfillment of HIS redemptive plan:
Put these three (past, present and future) into any combination you’d like, choosing to land in faithful remembrance and trust in GOD’s broader story.
8. Create a Psalm of lament
(The example used below is Psalm 142)
Pause to quiet your mind. Pray for distractions to fall away, and for deep awareness of your own heart.
While Psalms of lament are not always in the same order, they typically include these components. Consider this framework, giving yourself freedom to change, remove or alter however you see fit:
Address and introductory cry
With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
With my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me,
You know my way!
The lament (the real problem)
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.
Confession of trust
I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Prayer - what the psalmist wants GOD to do about it
Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
Reasons given to GOD for answering prayer
Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
Vow or shout of praise
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me.
After reading this example, take the components (in bold) and move them around as desired, composing your own Psalm of lament to GOD.