Praying the Psalms

My post the other day about this book got me thinking about Eugene Peterson's thoughts on the Psalms. Before he wrote The Message, Eugene Peterson was a Pastor... of a church plant, no less! He describes, in his introduction to the book of Psalms in The Message, how as a Pastor he was "charged with, among other things, teaching people to pray." He would frequently point them to the Psalms, and eventually he started paraphrasing them for people to use in prayer, leading to his now famous project of paraphrasing the Bible into what we know as The Message. What I love about Psalms for Young Children is that just as Eugene Peterson paraphrased the Psalms for adults to use in prayer, Marie-helen Delval has now done the same for children. This book is a great way to teach children to pray, using these Psalms written in words they can grasp.

Here are Eugene's thoughts on praying the Psalms:

"Faced with the prospect of conversation with a holy God who speaks worlds into being, it is not surprising that we have trouble. We feel awkward and out of place: 'I'm not good enough for this. I'll wait until I clean up my act and prove that I am a decent person.' Or we excuse ourselves on the grounds that our vocabulary is inadequate: 'Give me a few months - or years! - to practice prayers that are polished enough for such a sacred meeting. Then I won't feel so stuttery and ill at ease.'
My usual response when presented with these difficulties is to put the Psalms in a person's hand and say, 'Go home and pray these...
...Untutored, we tend to think that prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose that there must be an 'insider' language that must be acquired before God takes us seriously in prayer. There is not. Prayer is elemental, not advanced language. It is the means by which our language becomes honest, true, and personal in response to God. It is the means by which we get everything in our lives out in the open before God."

So, like I said, grab a copy of the book, and let's teach our kids to pray and to live lives of open communication before God.

image from _multifaceted on flickr.

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