Psalm 40

Psalm 40

I grow weary of waiting. Lord, keep me from despair.

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 40:

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.  

I did a breath prayer video for my friends at Missing Peace.

Nicole Cardoza’s Guided Meditation For Anxiety
Try this short meditation, created by Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures founder Nicole Cardoza, the next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.  Read in Yoga Journal:

Mr. Roger’s “Taking a breath”  This one is short, but Mr. Roger’s voice is calming for me (and many Pittsburghers) and even his virtual presence can summon childhood memories of calmness and safety.  


In the late morning, I exchanged texts with friends to check in. One shared that she was disappointed but not despairing. That seems to fit most people I’ve talked to. My anxiety is high, so I’ve listened to a few breath prayer meditations already (It’s only a little after noon as I type this). My jaw hurts, I have to keep reminding myself to unclench it. I’ve decided to dig into the next Psalm and keep my focus there until its time for the DFG meeting. Having that bright spot to look forward to is really helpful right now. I included additional recordings of breath prayer above that I found to be helpful, maybe you will too.

“The psalm reflects a person who had been in danger of death, had cried to the LORD, was delivered, found himself responsive to the LORD in a new way, had offered witness and self as thanksgiving instead of sacrifice, but now in trouble, conscious of failings, appeals in weakness to the LORD for deliverance.” Mays p. 169

I find myself today thinking of all that God has done in my life and in the lives of those who have shared their witness with me. I am thankful for that witness; it keeps me from despair. As I continue to pray for our divided and hurting country that we may find healing in God (including those who know God by another name) I feel my weakness, sorrow, and disappointment, but know I have hope in God my savior. Lord, keep me from despair, no matter what the election result. I know that this result won’t change the sickness of sin in my country, state, and even my own heart. Lord have mercy on me. I grow weary of waiting. Give me a new song in my heart.

Let us pray:

One way to think about breath prayer is that whatever is exhaled other people will inhale. So, sometimes we might inhale and exhale the same idea with the hope that what we receive from God, we can share with others. For example, you may imagine receiving God’s steadfast love while praying that others are receiving God’s steadfast love.

Another way to think about breath prayer is to pick something you would like to receive for your inhalation and something you would like to release for your exhalation. The idea is to keep it simple, so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale. That simple prayer could be something like this: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your hope and release my despair.

Or to borrow a breath prayer from Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies) : Inhale: I grow weary of waiting. Exhale: Lord, keep me from despair.

Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

Sources and notes:

“The psalm reflects a person who had been in danger of death, had cried to the LORD, was delivered, found himself responsive to the LORD in a new way, had offered witness and self as thanksgiving instead of sacrifice, but now in trouble, conscious of failings, appeals in weakness to the LORD for deliverance.” Mays p. 169

Verse 8: “Besides the document, the psalmist brought himself — a person whose desire is to do what pleases his God and in whose inmost parts is the LORD’s instruction. …. It is an offering of praise for salvation, and what is even more important, it is the confession of a transformation of the self worked by salvation. Where human desire and will are conformed to diving pleasure and instruction, the purpose of praise through sacrifice an song has been incorporated into the very process of the self. The true thanksgiving for salvation is witness and will.” Mays p. 168

“Verse 11 is best read as a statement of trust (with NJPS) than as a petition (with NRSV). The psalmist trusts himself to the gospel he has proclaimed in the situation in which he now is. He does what is usually so difficult to do — live by the gospel you preach.” Mays pp. 168-169

“His present troubles and failures seem as numerous as the LORD’s past wondrous deeds (cf. v. 5). Though many could see how the LORD saved in the past (v. 3), now the psalmist cannot see beyond all his problems. God’s saving righteousness was in the psalmist’s heart (v. 10), but now his heart fails him. The psalm teaches that the torah in the heart does not prevent sin, more does the experience of salvation spare us form the need of God’s help.” Mays p. 169

“Praise and piety were for them the true responses to the salvation of the LORD. Psalm 40 is shaped by this theology. …. The psalmist with his praise and piety still must pray for salvation from suffering and sin. That is where we all are. But our prayers are made in hope, because the sacrifice for sin has been made for us once and for all.” Mays pp. 170-171

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.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim 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.  

Holy Week: Palm Sunday, 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35, Maundy Thursday Psalm 115 or 113, Good Friday Psalm 88, Holy Saturday (Great Vigil) Psalms 7, 17, 44, 57 or 108, 119:145-176, 149.

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.

Prelude to the Passion 20th -23rd Sundays in Ordinary time: 20th Sunday Psalm 58, 21stSunday Psalm 140, 22nd Sunday Psalm 68 or Psalm 120 or Psalm 82, and 23rd Sunday Psalm 141.

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ 24th – 33rd Sundays in Ordinary time: 24th Sunday Psalm 92, 25th Sunday Psalm 25, 26th Sunday Psalm 136, 27th Sunday Psalm 41, 29thSunday Psalm 38 or Psalm 55, 30th Sunday Psalm 33: (1-10) 13-22, 31st Sunday Psalm 31or Psalm 40, 32nd Sunday Psalm 71:15-24, 33rd Sunday Psalm 77, Christ the King Psalm 87 and Psalm 117, and All Saints Day Psalm 107.

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