Praying the Psalms - Songs During Depression
While in the grip of a Major Depressive Disorder, a person’s energy level may be so low that it is impossible to find words for either prayer or praise.
Praying While Depressed
Prayer, which is to have meaningful conversation with Jesus, is a necessary part of Christian life. Prayer is healthy. In prayer we can express our complaints, pain and despair to God.
When depressed, the ability to communicate is difficult. I've friends who can sense my frustration at such times and will say, "It's ok, Carlton, take your time." Not only is it hard for a depressed person to muster the energy to pray. It is also difficult to articulate your prayer. Mental processes and speech both slow.
Have you been there? It is maddening isn't it?
Be Honest With God - He Already Knows
God has provided resources to help. What I call Songs for the Dark Place are largely drawn from the Psalms. Bill Hybels book Honest to God was a help to me. He noted our tendency to act as though difficult emotions should never be expressed to God are other Christians.
Hybels used Psalms to showcase how often anguish was declared. It is consoling to know God does not close His ears to my despair and anguish.
Make the Psalms Your Song
There have been seasons of life when I had no prayer. It was not that I was without need. My need was desperate. It was just I had no words. The well-spring of communication with God was dry.
My best solution, one now shared with thousands, is using the Psalms as a prayer book. Instead of silently reading the words of the Psalms, I read the words aloud.
Author Eugene Peterson said silent reading was never the intent of the psalms. He argues that the psalms were written to be spoken aloud. While reading silently, particularly material with which we are already familiar, our eyes tend to flow over the words without mental engagement.
Something different happens when the same sentences are read aloud. Slowly reading the words aloud engages the mind. When reading aloud, the mouth cannot speak unless the brain is fully engaged. When I read the Psalms in this manner, it is only a short time before I encounter a Psalm that expresses my current experience. At that moment, the ancient psalm becomes my present prayer. It has spoken my situation to my Lord. My feelings have been expressed to Him.
Finding Your Song
Every psalm does not resonate. What speaks for me at one moment does not speak to another. But without fail when I begin to read the psalms aloud it is only a short time before what I'm reading becomes mine. The psalm has the right words, the right tone and tune.
Out of 150 Psalms there are at least 48 that are known as Psalms of Lament. Psalms of Lament can speak your words when you are dealing with depression. You may want to mark these in your Bible. Psalms 6, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 46, 51, 55, 57, 62, 63, 69, 71, 73, 77, 84, 86, 90, 91, 94, 95, 103, 104, 107, 110, 116, 118, 121, 123, 1`24, 130, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 146, and 147.
Changing my prayer approach is only one of the things I've learned about dealing with depression. This and over a dozen other options are included in my best-selling book, Light in a Dark Place - Encountering Depression. If this could feel this could benefit you take a look at the reviews for the book.
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 Keen, P. 101.