I cry out to you from the depths, Lord—
my Lord, listen to my voice!
Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
If you kept track of sins, Lord—
my Lord, who would stand a chance?
But forgiveness is with you—
that’s why you are honored.
I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
and I wait for God’s promise.
My whole being waits for my Lord—
more than the night watch waits for morning;
yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!
Israel, wait for the Lord!
Because faithful love is with the Lord;
because great redemption is with our God!
He is the one who will redeem Israel
from all its sin. (CEB)
Throughout church history, the book of Psalms has been used and understood as the Church’s prayer book. Indeed, the psalms are much more than a collection of beautiful poems, words of assurance, and songs of praise – they are designed for regular and ongoing use as prayers. And I’m not just talking about the psalms being somebody else’s prayers; they are my prayers and your prayers.
There are times when words fail us – where we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place and want to pray. Yet, our stress and/or anxiety is so high that we can neither think straight nor form anything coherent with our mouths. It is in such times that the psalms present themselves to us as the path forward.
What’s more, psalms are meant to be spoken out loud and more than once. And I’m not talking about saying them with a quiet mumble or a flat monotone. No! These precious prayers of Holy Scripture are meant to be declared with full voice and a large amount of flavor! They are to repeatedly roll off our lips with all the emotional and spiritual gusto which resides within us! Tears and yelling are both appropriate and encouraged. For we do not possess merely a heady faith of thoughts and ideas; we possess a faith that is robustly heartfelt, and dwells down deep in the gut where our bowels of compassion have their abode.
Even with a cursory reading of today’s psalm, we easily observe that there’s more going on here than cognitive beliefs of faith, hope, and love. The psalmist is expressive, clinging to faith with a patient longing for God to make good on his promises. It is chocked full of emotion, a prayer coming from the depths of the gut. The whole being is involved, and rightly so, because our faith affects the entirety of a person and everyone in the community of the redeemed.
If this psalm resonates with you in any way, let your proclamation of it be with the expanse of feeling inside you. After all, as people created in the image of God, we share God’s own deep sense of love – and love is truly love when it is outwardly expressed with a sacred combination of words, actions, and feelings.
Click Psalm 130 and enjoy the psalm set to song by Keith and Kristyn Getty.
May the Lord be with you, my friends.