What can a relationship with God look like? The Psalms give insight.
Christians often talk about having a relationship with God. For those who are not yet Christians or are new Christians, this can sometimes seem a bit confusing. For those who have been Christians for a longer time, the term 'relationship with God' has the potential to become a 'stock phrase' which we can sometimes struggle to explain. For others, their relationship with God can sometimes feel like it is stuck in a rut - with only a couple of dimensions to it.
Whatever stage we are at in our spiritual lives, the Psalms are a great resource. They give us a window into the thoughts and emotions of people who had a relationship with God. The psalms cover a wide variety of circumstances and experiences. They contain joy and sorrow, confidence and doubt, questioning and wisdom. Some psalms are communal, while others are deeply personal. Some psalms recount a nations history while others tell an individual's story.
Down through the centuries, people have found that these songs, poems and prayers have resonated with their own lives. They put into words things we sometimes struggle to express. They demonstrate aspects of a relationship with God that we can grow into.
Our daily bible readings (encounterbc.org) always include a reading from the Psalms. Taking the time to read these portions each day connect us with this important spiritual resource. Over the course of a year the readings cover every psalm in order.
However, to get the most out of the psalms, I think we need to take time with individual psalms - to reread them, meditate on them, and internalise them. So in your daily readings when you come across a psalm that particularly speaks to you, take time over the following days or weeks to keep coming back to it. You might even try to memorise some of it so you can recall it to mind as you go about your daily life - you will get a benefit even if you can't remember all of it perfectly.
A personal relationship with God is possible and desirable and the Psalms can help us develop it.
photo credit: Twenty Third Psalm via photopin (license)
David Wanstall, 08/04/2016