Monday, January 01, 2007

Psalms through the Year; Spiritual Exercises for Every Day

by Marshall D. Johnson. For the past couple of years I have been following the American Bible Society’s daily Bible reading schedule. I gave them a donation once or twice and now every December they send me the printed booklet with a selection for each day of the new year. You can also read it online by going to the link in my sidebar. I have gotten into the habit of getting up a half an hour before my boys to read the Bible every day. I find that if I spend the first half hour of the day alone and in prayer I am grounded and centered for whatever comes. The days my boys wake up too early or I miss my meditation time by giving in to distractions I am off kilter and stumbling around alone. Meeting God in the quiet dark of early morning is a joyous reward for the discipline of rising early and focusing my attention on our loving Creator. It has not been easy to establish this discipline. For many years it was my New Year’s resolution to keep morning devotions and read the Bible every day of the year. Now that I have gotten in the habit the rewards are rich and satisfying.

This year I received Psalms through the Year as a gift book and I am looking forward to ending my days with these meditations on the Psalms. I plan to keep up with reading the ABS selections in the morning and reading the Psalms selections in this book in the evening right before I go to sleep. I think it will round out the day and bring me to rest within the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

I am interested in Johnson’s approach. Rather than following the Psalm readings given in the Book of Common Prayer Johnson proceeds in sequence from Psalm 1 to 150, selecting just a few verses for each day. His one page meditations are about the emotions and situations presented in the scripture, with background information on the poetic structure and themes of the ancient psalmists. I appreciate that he is attempting to look at the text in it’s own context, rather than give little homilies about his own life and personal reflection. I anticipate learning a lot about the psalmist’s world perspective and ancient Israelite worship.

I invite you to join me at the start of this new year in finding a spiritual practice that will deepen your joy and renew your strength. What well have you found that refreshes and sustains?


tallulah said...

Nothing to do with prayer or the bible. My being calm is centered around a nice, steaming cup of hot coffee and the newspaper - 45 minutes before I get the kids up for school. Just the quiet of the morning helps center me for the rest of the day.

Mitali Perkins said...

What a lovely discipline. Nothing like solitude to remind you that you aren't alone, but beloved.