I want to surround myself with God, which is what happens when I read the Psalms. They force me to look again at the things I believe in but don’t always see.
For a couple years now, I have tried to make the Psalms the center of my own devotional life, which is strange for me because for most of my life I found the book of Psalms annoying.
I hope that’s not offensive. I promise I love (all of) the Bible. But I don’t really do poetry, and I’m not much for singing either. When it comes to Scripture, I like the letters – logical, precise, even argumentative.
But I pray the Psalms because, as someone once said, “To a worm in horse radish, the world is horse radish.” In other words, we see our world through whatever lenses we repeatedly place over our eyes. Our vision becomes defined by our regular surroundings. And I want to surround myself with God, which is what happens when I read the Psalms. They force me to look again at the things I believe in but don’t always see.
A while back my wife Beth texted me this: “FYI my phone is going to die any minute.” But when I first read it, instead of “phone” I saw the word “mom.” I panicked, but only briefly, because I did what anyone would’ve done: I looked again. When we see something we’re not expecting, we look again. Sometimes the second look confirms our surprise, and sometimes it reveals our initial misperception. But the point is that we look again.
But what if we don’t “look again” often enough? What if we put too much faith in our first glance, and thereby see something other than reality? If we only see what we’ve always seen, we’ll only be who we’ve always been.
What if we could find a way to see with new eyes? People often describe conversion as feeling like your eyes have literally been opened wider. Isn’t continual conversion what we need? Don’t we need the Spirit to re-open our eyes – and thus redefine our possibilities – again and again?
That’s what the Psalms have done for me. And that’s what they can do for you. So please, please, please don’t stop praying the Psalms just because our series is over. Go buy Eugene Peterson’s Answering God if you need some guidance. Better yet, when this month is over, open up your Bible to Psalm 1, read it, and start praying.
Awake. Look again even when you don’t notice anything strange. Notice what you don’t normally see. Ready yourself for surprises. Don’t assume you’ve got things figured out. Currently you might not be actually seeing what you’re looking at, and you can never live beyond your vision. What you can’t see limits what you can think and do.
In other words, to a worm in horse radish the world is horse radish. Therefore, we pray the Psalms.