Hearing Psalms in the First Person

Q: How did you start this way of listening to God through the Psalms?

I was getting ready to meditate on Psalm 23 at a retreat, and I remember thinking that I probably wouldn’t get anything new out of it this time, because I was so familiar with the psalm. It was as if God said, “So you don’t think there is anything new to learn!”

I was bowled over. My experience of hearing God speak to me in the first person through the Psalms was completely outside the box for me. I was aware that it was God’s initiative with me. I don’t think I am smart enough to dream this up. I felt like I was just a scribe writing down what God was saying to me, without any thought process of my own. The experience got me excited about incorporating this way of listening to God into my life.

Q: You describe using your imagination when you are reading Psalms. What do you say to people who struggle with that idea?

Our whole being is sanctified. God has redeemed my whole being—mind, body, and soul—and He lives in me. My imagination is just one way to connect to God.

The process of listening to God in the first person through a psalm is a very relational way of engaging with God. He is drawing me into an intimate connection, and also incorporating my current life experience into how He speaks to me.

Q: This is a slow process, listening to God through the Psalms. Talk about the pace.

I approach this kind of listening when I have at least an hour. It takes time to sit and soak in the words. I usually start with 4-5 different translations of the Bible, and read over the psalm again and again, looking up words and cross-references. But it is more than study, this is marinating in the psalm until I can begin to taste the words. I am waiting for the answer to the question, “What would it sound like if You spoke to me in the first person?”

Q: Is this always an individual practice, or can it be used with a group?

In a group setting, each person can spend their own time with God, listening, meditating, jotting down notes as to what they hear God saying to them. Then, the group can come together to share what they heard from the same psalm. This also allows a time for the group to reflect on what other people heard. God will not speak anything that is contradictory to His Word or His character, and in the group sharing time there is an opportunity to ask questions and clarify.

Q: You are the National Prayer 
Director for The Navigators. What does that role entail?

I have the opportunity to interact with Navigator ministries in many different environments—campuses, cities, military bases, neighborhoods, and more. I get the privilege to encourage and teach staff about the depths of prayer, that it is not just coming to God with our list, but that it is profoundly relational, between us and God. Prayer is coming into the presence of God. I often lead retreats that include four elements: Scripture, worship, prayer, and silence. The last element, silence, is something we often forget as we seek connection with God.

Shhh! Listen. Do you hear it? Listen carefully. Focus. Heaven is speaking, telling of My glory. …  
— Psalm 19 in the first person.

Purchase Speak, Lord, at Navpress.com or call Tyndale House toll free 855-277-9400.

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