Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm :
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Breath Prayer: I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often. Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise. This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine. Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.
We don’t know exactly why someone would say to the Psalmist, “There is no help for you in God” (v. 2), but we could probably have a lot of guesses forming in our own minds based on what we think is unlovable, unforgivable, and unredeemable. This phrase is particularly cruel when it is accompanied by the doubt, fear, guilt, shame, and anxiety that live in the darkest corners of our mind. These shadow monsters take those cruel words and cut us with self-loathing, or drown us in our shame, or let our anxiety throw us off the nearest bridge spiraling into uncertainty. We know all to well our guilt and our faults; our fear is that we are truly unloved.
We have a choice. We can believe those who hate us, the shadow monsters within us, and the cruel world where we receive confirmation of our deepest fears, or we can believe in the God who loves us unconditionally, the community of believers physically with us and in the great cloud of witness that surround us, and the beautiful world were we receive confirmation of our greatest hopes. We can choose between doubt and hope.
The psalmist sleeps well (maybe while dreaming of God punching the shadow monsters in their lying mouths) because the psalmist has chosen to believe in God.
In the face of persecution, it is an act of resistance to believe you are beloved. We must believe that God is love, and that nothing can operate us from the love of God. It also helps to cultivate a loving community, in your family or chosen family, in your workplace, and in your faith community. Find the people with whom you can pray and express love.
In the face of anxiety, you know the kind that keeps you overworking, loosing sleep, and never feeling like enough, it is an act of residence to rest, to express gratitude, and to be generous (not just to others but to yourself). Do something just for you today, find a way to express gratitude, and love generously. You are enough, you have enough, and you can give enough to yourself and others.
In the face of doubt, it is an act of resistance to have hope. And we have every reason to hope. God is with us, God has been with us in the past, and God holds our future. There is nothing in all of creation that is beyond God’s help and love.
The resistance prays. The resistance naps. The resistance hopes.
Let us pray:
God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your hope and release my doubt. You can always pick different words for your breath prayer. But the idea of a breath prayer is to keep it simple so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
Check out the Nap Ministry
Sources and notes:
“The prayer begins by calling on the name of the LORD and describing the trouble that occasions the prayer (vv. 1-2). It asserts trust in the LORD as the protector of the one who prays, the source of his dignity and confidence (v. 3), and as the one who does answer his prayers (v. 4). That trust is expressed in conduct, the prayer says, by restful sleep (v. 5) and the absence of fear in the midst of trouble (v. 6). A double petition seeks the LORD’s response and saving help (v. 7a). The petition supported by praise of the LORD as the one who rebukes and disempowers the wicked enemies (v. 7b). The prayer concludes with a brief theological sentence proclaiming that salvation belongs to the LORD and with an invocation of the LORD’s blessing upon the people of the LORD (v. 8).” Mays p. 51
“The identity of the petitioner is simply a believer in the LORD who faces threatening hostility in trust; the prayer is the voice of that trust.” Mays p. 51
We don’t know why someone would say “There is no salvation for him in God” (v. 2), but we could probably have a lot of guesses forming in our own minds based on what we think is unforgivable. “Whatever the particular point of the sentence, its final implications is that the one who prays is without God and therefore without hope. That is the real trouble beneath the tangible trouble, opened up and brought to light by the hostility. In the religious world of the Old Testament, in such a situation there were only two possibilities: either the enemies were right or the psalmist had a right to hope. Only God could decide and disclose the truth.” Mays p. 52
” “No salvation for him in God” is a mortally dangerous weapon against the soul. It has an ally in every crevice of doubt, anxiety, and guilt in the heart. No reasoning or counsel or procedure is a sure defense against it. One can either believe it or believe God. The psalm is composed to encourage faith and to give it language. The prayer calls out the name of the LORD and puts the one who uses it in the situation of personal address. It falls back on the petitioner’s membership in the chosen community and calls the LORD “my God”. It speaks of the experience of God’s provident protection and care in the past (v. 3). It points to the calm that comes from trusting God instead of fearing human enmity (vv. 6-7). It recites the doctrine that “salvation belongs to the LORD” to remind the distressed that no trouble is beyond help and no human hostility can limit God’s help. In all these ways the psalm encourages and supports faith and invites the distressed to pray, the ultimate act of faith in the face of the assault on the soul.” Mays pp. 52-53
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.
Other Year D Psalm blog posts:
I’m attempting a series exploring the Psalms in year D. Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.
I began this series in Lent 2020. These blog posts include examples of meditation or spiritual discipline or mindfulness exercises. Here are the links: Ash Wednesday: Psalm 102; 1st Sunday in Lent: Psalm 6; 2nd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 143; 3rd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 38; 4th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 39; 5th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 101; 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35. I went a different direction during Holy Week and dropped the Psalms for a while, but I’m hoping to pick them back up again.
I’m going to try to move forward with the Psalms so that it might be useful for worship in the coming weeks and hoping that I can also go back and pick up some of the ones I missed.
The Season of Easter: Resurrection of the Lord (Easter) Psalm 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76, 2nd Sunday in Easter Psalm 64 or Psalm 119:73-96, 3rd Sunday in Easter Psalm 60 or 108, 4th Sunday in Easter Psalm 10, 5th Sunday in Easter Psalm 49: (1-12) 13-20, 6thSunday in Easter Psalm 129, Ascension Thursday Psalm 119:145-176, 7th Sunday in Easter Psalm 115, and Pentecost Sunday Psalm 119:113-136.
Then we move into “ordinary time” which is broken up into sections throughout the liturgical year. Remember that the year starts with Advent (I started this adventure in Lent) so some of the ordinary Sundays have already happened.
Trinity -Ordinary Time- Christ the King: Trinity Sunday Psalm 35, 9th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 142, 10th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 74, 11th Sunday Psalm 7, 12th Sunday Psalm 55, 13th Sunday Psalm 56, and 14th Sunday Psalm 57 or Psalm 3.
The Apocalyptic Discourse 15th -19th Sundays in Ordinary time: 15th Sunday Psalm 17:8-14(15) or Psalm 83, 16th Sunday Psalm 54, 17th Sunday Psalm 50 or Psalm 105, 18thSunday Psalm 59, and 19th Sunday Psalm 37.