Planted in My Heart
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Have you ever found yourself in a moment knowing your heart is longing to pray -
maybe for yourself or a loved one,
maybe it's a song, praise, or a cry of lament,
maybe as you hear or watch events of the world unfold,
maybe as you approach making a weighted decision.
Prayer is simply communicating with God, and there are times when I know I need to pray but I don't have the words. I'm not sure what to say. My heart may feel too heavy in the moment to have the clarity of expression I seek. God's Word is clear the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in these times.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. - Romans 8:26-27
I'm so thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, especially in these times.
Not too long ago, I received news a loved one's cancer was spreading rapidly and the doctor had given him a short time to live. I was relieved for him he would not be in pain much longer, but I was sad for the one who will carry on without him. This was one of those how-should-I-pray times for me. The tears came to my eyes and the Holy Spirit led me to open the Psalms.
I started reading one after another.
The Psalms are a collection of raw, heart-felt prayers and praise poured out to God. Peace washed over me that night as I read through these and led me to share this series with you.
We've endured the pandemic and are still very much feeling the residual effects. We've experienced loss in many ways and see our neighbors hurting around the world. This life of faith, though worth living, is never easy. I like how Ken Gire put it:
The life of faith is a Lewis-and-Clark expedition into uncharted territory. The book of Psalms maps that frontier with exacting honesty. Much of that map belongs to David. The landscape of his life was a vast range of upheavals. - Ken Gire, Life As We Would Want It...Life As We Are Given It
I want to be a student of God's Word so I can grow my faith and have these words planted inside me so when hard times come (as we know they will), I'll have a Psalm or a scripture come to mind to give me strength and also so I can be a voice of hope to others as they endure personal upheavals in their own lives.
For this, I want to invite you to join me for a summer of renewal and refreshment. Let's spend a Summer in the Psalms.
Summer in the Psalms
We'll read or listen to one Psalm a day starting today through the entire summer. Through this series, I'm looking forward to introducing you to some friends who have also spent time in the Psalms.
Today, let's start with Psalm 1. It's only six verses, but it lays the foundation for the rest of the Psalms, teaching,
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. - Psalm 1
How to Read the Psalms
To help us get started as we read the Psalms, consider trying the R-C-B-Q-Y approach.
I know, I know. This acronym sounds more like the notes of a hurried waitress at a local BBQ joint... "Alright, sir, you want the RC Cola and the BBQ plate. Whyyy, I'll have that right out for you!"
That doesn't sound half-bad, but I promise, this is even more filling.
Read-Circle-Bullet-Question-Yield. I'll even share my notes for Psalm 1 with you so we can practice this approach together. Add any additional notes you have to your journal or sticky note!
Before opening God's Word, take a moment to pray and ask God to meet you there. Then...
Read it a couple times. Highlight what stands out to you.
How do we become a tree that prospers, yielding fruit and not withering? When we are planted by streams of water.
How do we ensure we are planted by such water? When we delight in the word of God, when we meditate day and night.
Circle verbs or specific wording that stands out to you.
We're told those who do not "walk, stand" or "sit" with the wicked are blessed. Later, we see this same wording repeated with "the wicked will not stand in judgement nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous."
Then, write down a bullet point takeaway based on what has stood out to you. "I-statements" help make this personal. Think of this as a challenge statement.
I choose what I will surround myself with today. I can choose to flood my mind with the truth of God's Word or the noise of the world.
Then, jot down a question or two to think about today. You don't have to have the answer to this question now. And yield to the Holy Spirit - prayerfully ask God to search your heart and lead you to more truth and grow your faith through the Holy Spirit.
What does it look like for me to "delight" in the Word of God? What have I been delighting in lately? Although these may be godly, how do I prioritize God above these?
Again, we don't have to be Bible scholars and talk only in the thou's and art's of King James version to read this book ...because when we pray before we read, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us, guiding and teaching us.
Praise God for this!
And praise God for a summer of refreshment as we are intentional to spend a Summer in the Psalms together, for if we want His truth to ever be on our lips, it must first be planted in our hearts.
Our strength grows as we rely on strength from above. Our joy grows as we see God transforming us from the inside out. Our peace grows as we spend time in God's presence, and we find rest when we intentionally seek the Lord first in our lives, for the Lord is ever our portion.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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