What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God. The psalms show us how to answer. (p. 6)
The practice of Christians in praying the Psalms is straightforward: simply pray through the Psalms, psalm by psalm, regularly. … That’s it: open our Bibles to the book of Psalms and prayer them – sequentially, regularly, faithfully across a lifetime. This is how most Christians for most of the Christian centuries have matured in prayer. Nothing fancy. Just do it. The praying itself is deliberate and leisurely, letting (as St. Benedict directed) the motions of the heart come into harmony with the movements of the lips. (p. 7)
All the psalms are prayers in community: people assembled, attentive before God, participating in a common posture, movement and speech, offering themselves and each other to their Lord. Prayer is not a private exercise, but a family convocation. … the believing community at worship, at regular times and in assigned places, is the base of prayer. All the psalms were prayed in such communities. … The primary use of prayer in not for expressing ourselves, but in becoming ourselves, and we cannot do that alone. (p. 18-19)
Human beings are in trouble most of the time. Those who don’t know they are in trouble are in the worst trouble. Prayer is the language of the people who are in trouble and know it, and who believe or hope that God can get them out. (p. 36)
We do better to simply enter the sequence of psalms as they are given to us in the Psalms, go from one to the next, one day to the next, one week to the next, taking what comes, learning to enter into what comes, whatever, practicing a sense of the presence of God, deepening that awareness into colloquy* with God. (p. 108)
* colloquy: dialogue, conversation, heart-to-heart
So I answered
Psalm 40:1-8, The Message (translated by Eugene Peterson)
I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile
of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one
compares to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,
and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words
account for you.
Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—
that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears
so I can listen.
So I answered, “I’m coming.
I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party
you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,
became part of my very being.
From the blog
In the school of prayer with Anselm
In the school of prayer with Michael Mayne
In the school of prayer with Ignatius of Loyola