Psalm 88: A Paraphrase

This Sunday I’m preaching from Psalm 88. Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase of that chapter inspired me to take a deeper look and draw out some of the obscurities of this ancient Hebrew song. Here is my best Petersonian effort at my own paraphrase. Psalm 88 O Yahweh, you are my savior;    All day and night I’m praying to you. Please listen to me;    Don’t plug your ears! My life is a wreck,    And I’m standing in my grave. I might as well be in hell;    I am weak and helpless, like one freed to play on a dead-man’s playground, … Continue reading Psalm 88: A Paraphrase

Making the Most of the Mealtime Prayer

In our home, spiritual formation and instruction happens “along the way.” We have a three-and-a-half year old and a 20-month old. Our oldest is not quite old enough for a formal “family worship” time. Yet she is old enough to comprehend some spiritual disciplines, particularly prayer. Our youngest even sometimes has the awareness to stop what she is doing to pray with us. In our home, we pray all the time. We pray spontaneously for needs that arise in our family or in others. We pray on our way to worship with God’s people. We pray at bedtime. We pray when there are meltdowns. … Continue reading Making the Most of the Mealtime Prayer

A Simple Way to Pray

I’ve been writing a bit lately on prayer (see here and here), with more to come. In between posts I wanted to provide you with a resource for your prayer life. It is a short booklet by Martin Luther called A Simple Way to Prayer. You may already be familiar with it, and even if you are it’s worth another read. In this booklet, Luther helps Peter Beskendorf, his barber, understand how to pray. One might be inclined to think that Luther, a theological giant in church history, would complicate prayer, making it difficult for non-theological giants like us. That couldn’t be further … Continue reading A Simple Way to Pray

The Psalms: A Vocabulary for Faith

This is a follow up post to “Pastoral Ministry and the Practice of Prayer.” I have two daughters. Bailey is nearing three and a half years old. Hope just turned 18 months. Bailey speaks quite well. She has, as a matter of fact, since she was about 18-20 months old. I remember once during a check-up around that time that the pediatrician asked Carly, my wife, if Bailey has “between 5-10 words” (or something close to that) in her vocabulary. Carly nearly laughed. Bailey could probably say about five dozen words. “Oh yes,” Carly replied. “She definitely can.” Hope, on the other hand, has second-child speaking syndrome. Her … Continue reading The Psalms: A Vocabulary for Faith

Pastoral Ministry and the Practice of Prayer

“Lord, teach us to pray.” This request from the disciples (Luke 11:1) is quite puzzling. These were Jewish men–men who from the time they could speak were taught how to walk and talk with God. They knew the Psalms–the prayer book of Israel. Perhaps not all the disciples had them memorized like the religious leaders of the day. But they knew them. They loved them. They sang them. If anyone knew how to pray, it would be these Jewish men who were instructed in the way of the Hebrew scriptures. Because of this reality, the question is also quite humble, quite profound. It was a … Continue reading Pastoral Ministry and the Practice of Prayer

A Prayer for Christians in Iraq

Merciful Heavenly Father, We do not know how to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, but we trust that your Spirit prays for us in our weakness. So we cry, How long before you will judge and avenge the blood of your saints (Rev. 6:10)? How long shall the wicked exult (Ps. 94:3)? How long, O God, is the foe to scoff and the enemy to revile your name (Ps. 74:10)? Why, O LORD, do you stand far away; why do you hide yourself in times of trouble (Ps. 10:1)?” Have mercy on our brothers and sisters and … Continue reading A Prayer for Christians in Iraq