1 & 2 Thessalonians
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians)
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Names of God
Sermon on the Mount
Year of St. Paul
Exercises to Help You Experience the Psalms
Audio (6:05) |
A study of the Psalms should never be merely an academic or cognitive exercise, as important as that may be. The psalms were written as poetry and song to be experienced, to touch the heart and emotions.
In order to encourage you to truly experience the psalms and make them your own, I'm asking you to complete one of the following exercises for each of the lessons in this study. These aren't designed to create busywork, but to stretch you spiritually. When you finish, report back on the Forum how the exercise worked for you. Ideally, you'll vary the exercises from lesson to lesson to allow the Psalms to become part of you in new ways.
- Pray a Psalm. Select one of the psalms along the theme of the lesson. Then, using the ideas and as many of the words as seem to fit your situation, pray that prayer to God, inserting your own struggles and needs within the prayer. Go through the entire psalm, paraphrasing it as you pray it sincerely to God. Many people have exercised this kind of prayer -- they pray through every Scripture passage they read. Why don't you start this practice with one of the psalms?
- Meditate on a Psalm. To meditate means to think deeply about something and mull it over in your mind over a period of time. You might read it several times in different translations. Say it over to yourself to feel the words on your lips. Write it out longhand. Consider the meaning of each important word. Memorization is another exercise, but memorizing is a good way to meditate on a verse or a passage.
- Read a Psalm to a Shut-in. People who are home-bound or in hospitals, nursing homes, jails, etc. need encouragement. As your exercise, read a psalm from this week's theme to a shut-in. If you read more than one you'll be doubly blessed!
- Paraphrase a Psalm. Write out a paraphrase of the psalm of your choosing in your own words. Try to find modern-day synonyms and thoughts that correspond to the thoughts in the psalm. Don't be afraid to be creative. If you need ideas, try reading a few psalms from The Message to see how Eugene Peterson creatively paraphrased the Psalms.
- Write Your Own Psalm. Write your own psalm based on the theme of this lesson. You're entirely free in how you do this. Some approaches include:
- Write in the style of Hebrew poetry using thought parallelism and imagery. This will be fun, though you may find it challenging. Consult my Introduction to Psalms in the section on Hebrew Poetry before beginning.
- Write a psalm with lines that rhyme like traditional Western poetry.
- Write a psalm in free verse, not bothering to make the lines rhyme. Just express yourself to God.
- Write a psalm in Haiku style.
Write a psalm in any style you wish. The idea here is to learn to express yourself to God more freely.
Now all the lessons are available together in e-book and paperback formats.
Once you've completed the exercise you've chosen for this lesson, report it in the section of the Forum designated for that purpose. You can share the words if your exercise is written. Or share what doing this exercise meant to you personally. Or complain about being forced to memorize. Whatever. As you are accountable to other members of the Forum, it will help stretch you to be more than you are today.
1. Billy Graham in "Quotation Marks," Christianity Today, June 2007, p. 19.
Copyright © 1985-2013, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
In-depth Bible study books
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
Other Bible Study Books
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- Lamb of God
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ