2020-01- 22 The Psalms: Prayer and the Psalms

SMALL GROUP MATERIAL

INWARD PRAYER

Questions:

  1. What stood out to you tonight in the message? Why do you think that was especially a highlight for you?
  2. Psalm 138:1 “Thank you! Everything in me says, “Thank you!”
    • What are you thankful for tonight?
    • Is there one attribute of God (eg. love, faithfulness, generosity, justice, mercy, compassion…) that you have experienced and that you are grateful for?
  1. Psalm 138:3 “The moment I called out, you stepped in…”
    • Do you believe that God actually does this?
    • Have you experienced God “stepping in”? What did it look like?
  1. Psalm 138:8 “Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal – don’t quit on me now.”
    • Is there something that you feel that God has started in you over these past two weeks? This past school year? Last summer? Would you feel comfortable sharing it with the group?  Let’s pray for each other – that God will continue what he has started in us. [if your group is open to it, this is a great opportunity to come around each other one at a time and pray for specific requests]

OUTWARD PRAYER

 

MESSAGE NOTES

INTRODUCTION – PRAYER AND THE PSALMS

WHAT’S THE MAIN POINT?

It’s easy when we read the laments in the Psalms to zero in on the psalmist’s expression of emotion.  We can relate to it.  It describes our own pain as though we were looking at our heart in a mirror.  Perhaps that’s why we are drawn to the Psalms when our life feels like a whirlwind – or a roller coaster – of chaos, frustration and fear.  And as we bring our emotions to God, God meets us where we are and then transforms us with the truth of who God is: our rock, our Saviour, and our hope.  And realizing this leads us to a new place – a place of thankfulness.  And just like God wants us hear and respond to our honest laments, our prayers of thanksgiving also bring God joy.

The truth is there are many appropriate ways to pray to and with God. Here are some truths: you don’t have to use perfect sentence structure or fancy words for it to be a good prayer; you can’t shock God with what is going on in your life; God totally wants you to pray for what is happening in your life and for what is happening for those around you; prayer is a way to humbly connect with God; and yes, prayer is mysterious and we occasionally just might not know what is the point, or result, of our prayer. One thing is clear, as we see throughout the Bible and throughout Jesus’s life, is we are invited and asked to come to God in prayer, in conversation.

WORD UP: Psalm 138

1-3 Thank you! Everything in me says, “Thank you!”

Angels listen as I sing my thanks.

I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!”

Thank you for your love,

Thank you for your faithfulness;

Most holy is your name,

Most holy is your Word.

The moment I called out, you stepped in;

You made my life large with strength.

4-6 When they hear what you have to say, God,

All earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”

They’ll sing of all you’ve done:

“How great the glory of God!”

And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;

No matter the distance, he knows everything about us.

7-8When I walk into the thick of trouble,

Keep me alive in the angry turmoil.

With one hand

Strike my foes

With your other hand

Save me.

Finish what you started in me, God.

Your love is eternal – don’t quit on me now.

WAKE UP:

Here are a few options to help youth wake up to idea of the devotional you are

teaching:

  1. Let’s look at the exact same list of psalm snippets we saw the first time we started looking at the Psalms together. But this time when we read these aloud, try to listen to them as prayers. See if it changes how you think of them.

Complete adoration and praise for God?

Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above.
 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.  Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. (Psalm 148: 1-4)

Epic drama and exaggeration?

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. (Psalm 22: 14)

Wonder and confusion at God’s love for me?

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
 Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
 Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? (Psalm 8: 3-4. The Message)

Complete angst or anger toward people who are jerks?

My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. (Psalm 109: 1-3)

  1. What Is Lectio Divina? https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=gKYEOc3ik9k&feature=emb_logo

WHY DO I CARE?

The Psalms teach us how to participate in prayer as we read them.  Most Scriptures speak to us, but the Psalms speak for us.  “They don’t simply say, “Yes, God, I agree. Yes, that’s right, I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Or, “Yes, would you say that again so I can write it down and show it to my friends.”  No, they argue and complain, they lament and they praise, they thank and they sing.  On one page they accuse God of betraying and abandoning them and on the next they turn cartwheels of hallelujahs.

The Psalms show us that prayer is engaging God in a world that it not neat and tidy…and the first thing we realize is that in prayer, as in the Psalms, anything goes – prayer is an offering of ourselves, just as we are.  The second thing we realize is that prayer is access to everything that God is for us: holiness, justice, mercy, forgiveness, sovereignty, blessing, salvation, love, majesty, glory.  God generously offers himself to us, just as he is.   (adapted from Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson)

WHAT DO I DO?

  1. Practice reading and listening to Scripture through Lectio Divina (see instructions below)

Psalm 138:1-3

            Thank you! Everything in me says, “Thank you!”

                                    Angels listen as I sing my thanks.

            I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!”

                        Thank you for your love,

                                    Thank you for your faithfulness;

            Most holy is your name,

                        Most holy is your Word.

            The moment I called out, you stepped in;

                        You made my life large with strength.

  1. Bring yourself before Jesus and commit to engaging the Psalms through reading, studying, meditating (thinking about it), perhaps journaling, and then applying them, this week.
2020-01-23T23:59:11-07:00