Psalm Reading – A life strengthening spiritual discipline

For the last few years we have been on a journey of delving into Christian spiritual disciplines, which help us connect with God in different ways and help produce depth in our lives. 

Bible HandsOne of them that I personally have enjoyed is Psalm reading, where you read a number of Psalms (I have been doing 5) out loud and bowing in worship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit after each one. It is such a simple discipline and only takes 10 or 15 minutes of my morning, however I have been able to track the difference it has made in the depth of my relationship with God. It also helps me to align my mind, will and emotions to God and keep my focus on Him.

First and foremost, the Spiritual Disciplines are meant to create ways in our day for us to connect with God, to help develop our relationship and intimacy with Him. If we ever deviate from this focus, we can easily fall into striving and legalism. Having said that, we know that to be physically fit we need to have a plan, the discipline to stick to the plan and motivation for the long haul. To maintain our fitness level, we need to do the same things over and over again, if we feel like it or not. As soon as you stop for a week or two you feel the drop in fitness levels. As I mentioned before, spiritually we do not want to drift into legalism, where we do things because we feel we have to in order to earn God’s approval, we are completely loved and accepted by our Father in heaven. But there is also a level of development in character and spiritual strength that God wants to develop in us, and the various disciplines are a great way for us to partner with Him to do this. It won’t happen automatically, we need to be intentional about deepening our relationship with God, especially in a world that wants to take our focus moment by moment.

DSC_0065-1By way of example, this morning I woke up in a bad mood. My kids were awake early, I didn’t sleep well, I still felt the effects of a common cold I have had for over a week: basically I was grumpy! I went downstairs, made a coffee, read some of a devotional book and sat in stillness for a moment or two. However, my emotions were still in a slump. I took out my Bible, turned to the next Psalm on my list (31, as it happened) and read out loud 5 Psalms. As I went through them I lost focus on my mood and the words I read shifted my gaze upwards. When I finished I felt much more refreshed than when I started and in a more emotionally healthy state. Now I did have to continue to choose to be in a good mood, even when the kids spilled their breakfast or took their time to get ready for school etc. However, the simple discipline of Psalm reading helped me enormously to keep my perspectives aligned correctly. Then during our community meeting we started off by praying in twos and I found it so easy to hear God for the other person I was praying for, which I think was sharpened again by taking the time to read the Psalms out loud and allow the Word of God to “dwell in me richly”.

So I encourage you to take the time in your day to read out some of the Psalms, to make it part of your daily discipline and worship our Creator God through reading His Word aloud. Consistently.

Ian Matchett

hannah smile

A few books that have helped shape our journey:
John Ortberg – The Life You Have Always Wanted
Richard Foster – A Celebration of Discipline
Northumbria community – Celtic Daily Prayer

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