Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness

I’ve had a really hard time with the Psalms for a while now. Some of them are fantastic but others turn my stomach. For example:

O G‑d, how I wish you would kill the wicked!
How I wish violent people would leave me alone!
They say wicked things about you;
they speak evil things against your name.
O Yahweh, how I hate those who hate you!
How I despise those who rebel against you!
I hate them with a total hatred;
I regard them as my enemies.


While I get that this is a reflection of the poet’s heart (and our hearts at times), it just bothers me to read that in my Daily Prayers, especially when I don’t feel that way (which is a lot of the time). Furthermore, if my intention in my prayers is to move beyond those feelings, to be more like Christ — that is, to be loving and forgiving all — saying them in my most intimate times with the Beloved is very upsetting to me.

However, last weekend at the Grace Garden Yoga Retreat, I stumbled upon a book by Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness. Merrill refreshes the Psalms in a way that left me feeling...I don’t Joyful? Hopeful? There was a sense of, “Yes! Exactly!” when I read through the first part of this book. They conveyed a lot of what I feel but don’t know quite how to express it. The beauty of the way she refreshed these ancient songs and poems moved me. I’ve copied a few examples below.


Psalm 8
O Love, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name
    in all the earth!
You, whose glory is sung in heaven
    by the angels and saints,
Who with the innocence and
        spontaneity of a child,
Confounded those who are mighty
        and proud,
You quiet the unloving and fearful.

When I look up at the heavens,
    at the work of Love’s creation,
    at the infinite variety of your Plan;
What is woman that you rejoice in her,
And man that you do delight in him?
    You have made us in your image,
    You fill us with your Love;
You have made us co-creators of
    the earth!
    guardians of the planet!
to care for all your creatures,
to tend the land, the sea,
        and the air we breathe;
all that You have made,
    You have placed in our hands.

O Love, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name
    in all the earth!

Psalm 23
O my Beloved, you are my shepherd,
    I shall not want;
You bring me to green pastures
        for rest
    and lead me beside still waters
        renewing my spirit,
    You restore my soul;
You lead me in the path of
    to follow Love’s way.

Even though I walk through the
    valley of the shadow and
        of death,
    I am not afraid;
For You are ever with me;
    your rod and your staff
        they guide me,
    they give me strength
        and comfort.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of all my fears;
        you bless me with oil,
        my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will
        follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the heart
    of my Beloved

Psalm 25.16ff
Turn to me, O Holy One, and envelop me
        with your love, for
    I am lonely and oppressed.
Relieve the block in my heart
    that keep me separated from You;
See all the darkness within me;
    fill it with your healing light.
Look at my pain and all my fears;
    they shut out love and life.

Protect me and free me;
    let me not live as unworthy,
    for I would make my home in You
May integrity and wholeness fill me
    as I dwell with You,
        O Loving Presence.

O Beloved, as you renew me,
    redeem the nations,
That we on earth may unfold
        your Plan.

Psalm 27.4-6; 11ff
One thing have I asked of Love,
    that I shall ever seek:
That I might dwell in the
        Heart of Love
    all the days of my life,
To behold the Beauty of my Beloved,
    and to know Love’s Plan.

For I shall hide in Love’s heart
    in the day of trouble,
As in a tent in the desert,
Away from the noise of my fears.
And I shall rise above
    my struggles, my pain,
Shouting blessings of gratitude
    in Love’s Heart
And singing melodies of praise
        to my Beloved.

Teach me to be love,
        as You are Love;
Lead me through each fear;
Hold my hand as I walk through
    valleys of doubt each day,
That I may know your peace.

I believe that I shall know the
        Realm of Heaven,
    of Love, here on Earth!
Wait for the Beloved,
    be strong with courage
        of the heart;
Yes! Wait for the Beloved
        of your heart!

Beautiful words reflecting my heart and longings. I will be ordering me a copy of Psalms for Praying and I’ll be using it in my Daily Prayers. I hope you do too.

Br. Jack+, LC

* Good News Translation (GNT); Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society.


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