The Everyday Psalmist

A Guided Journal for Getting Real with God

About the Book

Practice rest, silence, and emotional honesty to achieve a stronger self-awareness and a deeper connection with God by writing your own psalms and learning to speak the language of prayer.

As many people of faith can attest to, finding the right words to best express what you’re feeling when you pray can feel challenging, intimidating, or often inaccessible. But prayer is not and was never meant to be exclusive to those who have their spiritual life “together.” It is a practice available for all.

In this beautiful, full-color guide to practicing prayer through the language of the psalms, you will be introduced to an overview of the biblical psalms—what they are, the different types, their origin, and how they are arranged. Then with prompts ranging from quotes to questions to reflections, you will be guided to write your own psalms, by getting “everything out in the open before God,” in the words of Eugene H. Peterson.

In an undated, approachable format, The Everyday Psalmist brings you on a journey of awakening gratitude and honesty while drawing closer to the heart of God through the following three sections:
 
Life Is Beautiful: Beautiful things will happen
Life Is Hard: Terrible things will happen
God’s Got This: Don’t be afraid. I am with you

With this invaluable “writer’s guide” resource, you can begin a lifelong practice of creating your own psalms, not as a substitute for those in the Bible but rather as a complement to enrich your spiritual life as you learn to speak the language of prayer in a more personal and transformative way.
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Excerpt

The Everyday Psalmist

Introduction


The next time you hear someone pray aloud in public, pay close attention to the language being used. Not always, but quite often, you’ll hear words and phrases that are different from those we use in daily conversations with our coworkers, or during Friday-night get-togethers with friends, or on Sunday-evening phone calls to relatives. What you’re hearing is what pastor and poet Eugene Peterson called “godtalk,” an impersonal language to talk about or even to God. Godtalk is speech that ends up feeling like insider language, like a secret code consisting of the right words and phrases that only certain people have access to while the rest of us don’t. And occasions like public prayers are notorious for being full of it.

It’s not that there aren’t some words and phrases that naturally find a place in our prayers, but it’s that godtalk sounds, for lack of a better word, polished. And because you hear it most often spoken by respected voices when it comes to matters of faith and spirituality—people who appear to have everything together—it’s not a stretch to say that godtalk can be a little, if not a lot, intimidating. The end result of such talk is that far too many people consider prayer, and maybe even God, a subject best left to the experts and/or the insiders. And that’s simply not true. Prayer is not a gated community.

The New Testament book of Luke (4:18–19, esv) records Jesus quoting these words:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”


The poor. The captives. The blind. Those who are oppressed. Think about that both literally and figuratively. God’s good news, which includes this amazing gift known as prayer, is precisely for those who don’t have it all together—which, if we’re honest, is all of us. Prayer is universal access.

Is there some kind of antidote or resistance to this godtalk? Yes, you’re in luck, for we have the gift of the biblical book of Psalms—a collection of 150 poems, songs, and prayers written over hundreds of years by a handful of authors that covers the spectrum of human experiences and emotions— from the happy to the sad to the joyful to the bittersweet to the grateful to the whiny to the angry-shaking-your-fists-at-the-sky to the down-on-hands-and-knees-whispering-please. As Eugene Peterson, the beloved translator of The Message Bible, explains, one of the first things we realize is that in prayer “anything goes.”

Don’t miss that phrase: “anything goes.”

Although many English translations present otherwise, the language originally used in the Psalms (Hebrew) is a far cry from polished. The psalms in their intended language are raw, earthy, honest, personal, and from time to time just downright awkward. This is language not from people who have their lives all together, but rather from those getting everything in their lives out in the open before God. While we’re at it, that’s a good working definition of prayer—“Getting everything out in the open before God.”

The psalms teach us the language of prayer. If we learn the language, then we can begin to see that God’s interested in every bit of life—nothing’s off limits. Nothing. Remember, “anything goes.” Everything is a context for prayer. And if we learn the language, we’ll realize that the only thing we need to pray our own psalms—to pray our own prayers—is honesty. No polish, no insider language, no secret handshake, no ducks all in a row. Just honesty. If we learn the language, then we’re on our way to following the apostle Paul’s encouragement to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, esv). In other words, living a life of constant prayer.

PLEASE NOTE: Learning to write your own psalms is not intended to be a substitute for reading and praying the biblical psalms, but rather a practice to complement the discipline that has been a part of the lives of Christians for centuries.

About the Author

Ink & Willow
Ink & Willow products infuse contemplation and inspiration into the regular spiritual practice of creative-minded Christians, wherever they are in their faith journey. Each thoughtfully curated gift product is based in biblical truth and sparks a reminder of how God reveals beauty in the midst of our ordinary. More by Ink & Willow
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