A practice that has meant a lot to me over the years has been praying scripture very personally. In the past, I was sometimes guilty of reading scripture at arm’s length. By that, I mean that I would study what certain words meant in original languages, I would read what others thought about the scriptures in commentaries, and I would talk about the scriptures as true and good. But I wouldn’t take them in. I wouldn’t see them intersecting with my actual life as I found it at that moment. I wouldn’t personalize them.
As I was reviewing my journal, I came across an entry where I’d been impressed by David’s psalm of praise (145). I took time to imagine myself as the one writing this song in the situation in which I found myself, using language that would make sense for me.
This morning, King God, I exalt you;
You will always be worthy of as much praise as I can raise.
Praising you is such a good daily rhythm, like a healthy heartbeat,
and I could brag about your name forever.
My God, you are great and so very worthy of my praise;
You are greater than I can possibly comprehend.
I want my sons, Sean, Bryan and Christopher, to see and experience your good works and your mighty acts for our good.
Your majesty is beautiful and bright--
Your wonderful works provoke me to meditate and reflect.
I can speak often of Your awesome works--
and I choose to proclaim your great deeds.
You are good beyond measure and even beyond to overflowing
I can always sing with joy about Your good works. You really are gracious and compassionate to me,
You’re not quick-tempered with me, and your love for me is my greatest wealth.
You are good to everyone, including me;
You have compassion on everyone, including me.
In personalizing scripture, I don’t mean to talk only about “what it means to me” in a way that uproots it from its actual, contextual meaning. I am simply seeking to find intersections between what it says, what it means, and what that means in my life, my relationships, and my work. It’s a practice I recommend to you as well.