Psalms Week: Lives Built Around Praying the Psalms

My primary (and very limited) experience with praying the Psalms communally is with the Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky.

They pray the Psalms seven times a day, and cover the entire Psalter every two weeks. So you can imagine that the words and sentiments of the Psalms have become part of the very fiber of their being.

Here’s what Brother Merton of Gethsemani said about how laypersons can join the monks in praying the Psalms.

In praying the Psalms, we make them “encompass the full round of the day and sanctify it.” Uniting ourselves with Christ in His praying Church, we dedicate ourselves and all our actions to God in and through Him. For this, it is not necessary to take part in the public and official prayer of the Church. Used as private prayer, the Psalms unite us to the praying Church though in a less formal and official manner, because the Psalms are always the Church’s prayer. Together with the Our Father, which Jesus Himself gave us, the Psalms are in the most perfect sense the “prayer of Christ.” They not only contain the ancient promises which Christ Himself came to fulfill, but they show forth everywhere the glory of Jesus, His supreme and eternal power as King and Priest. Above all they show Him to us triumphant over death and over His enemies, who are also our own, and they promise us that He will return in triumph. As we recite the Psalms, His mysteries are actualized by grace in our own hearts and we participate in them with the whole Church. Therefore even in our private prayer Christ and the Church pray in us when we pray with the Holy Spirit. Nowhere can we be more certain that we are praying with the Holy Spirit than when we pray the Psalms.

• Thomas Merton,  Praying the Psalms

Today, I’d like to share with you a personal reflection on the Psalms by one of the monks at Gethsemani. I found this brief interview with Brother Paul, in which he shares some thoughts on living a life built around praying the Psalms. This video was produced by Music Serving the Word Ministries.

I hope it will give us all some food for thought…and prayer.

5 thoughts on “Psalms Week: Lives Built Around Praying the Psalms

  1. The Psalms ARE different from the other Scriptures. When they are prayed, it is as though you were saying them for the first time. . . . . . there is a timelessness to them . . . . . they are both ever-new and, at the same time, words that go back five thousand years into antiquity, such is their mystery


  2. WOW! Who knew all this!
    The Merton quote and the video are inspiring to think about! I know one thing that happened to me when I started praying the psalms is that all MY words dried up. The words of the psalms seem to be more than sufficient! Great post CM! Thank you so much!


  3. Good thoughts from both Carrie and Rick Ro. Hopefully, as the Psalms infuse our inner life, God’s Spirit will find opportunity to work in the sphere around us.


  4. “You know, there are things I wouldn’t want to say outloud. Well, the psalms do it for me, and the fact it does that it for me then it gives me, as it were, a deeper hope on what my own nature really is.”

    I like that statement.

    I begin every Sunday school class I lead with a reading from Psalms. Been through them almost twice now.


  5. I know we’re deep into Lent but just yesterday I thought about using the Psalms this season to pray. I’ve enjoyed this series you have presented so far on them. The Psalms encompass such a rich tapestry of emotion – from joy to agony and back again. The perfect mirror of life, to be honest.


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