The Psalms were written with the purpose of drawing people into conversation with God, designed to be spoken and sung. They teach us so much about the nature of prayer and praise from their example of honest expression. The psalmists don’t hold back, but pour out their heartfelt concerns to God with deep and searching questions. Often we see a progression, from questioning to remembering God’s past faithfulness, leading to worship. Psalms for morning prayer have the power to change our perspective right at the start of the day.
Praying the Psalms
When we don’t know what to pray and life feels oppressive, a good place to start is reading a psalm out loud with the attitude of prayer. Instead of being overwhelmed by our circumstances, there is comfort in knowing the faith, and shared experiences, of those before us who have spoken the same words.
There is power in reading aloud Scripture, in declaring and yielding to the truth of God’s word.
“The reasons why our prayers so often fall flat or come out “stale” is because they have been uprooted from the soil of the word of God.”Eugene Peterson
Which Psalm is a Morning Prayer?
Traditionally Psalms 1-5 are used by the Church for morning liturgy. The first psalm is regarded as a morning prayer as it opens with a challenge to faithful Christian living – a good place and prompt to start our day. It is a call to remember our true purpose and to realign our thoughts to God’s word. After all our praise and prayer flow from the desire to live a life faithful to God.
Psalm 1 Morning Prayer
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”Psalm 1:1-6 NIV(UK)
What is the Message of Psalm 1?
Psalm 1 is a cry from the heart to know true blessing! Searching and seeking for happiness is a constant deep need in human nature – today more than ever. Our society has created a feeling of entitlement to happiness, and with it ‘permission’ to chase personal happiness, regardless of the cost.
The word ‘blessed’ is coming back into mainstream use – we see it on social media, there is even a meme for ‘feeling blessed.’ It’s used when we have enjoyed and experienced that perfect day. When everything has gone our way and we are uploading our photos, #blessed, #feelingblessed. And that is good if we are acknowledging God’s blessing on our lives, rather than some sense of our own achievement and personal satisfaction….
This psalm teaches the true source of happiness, and starts, by telling us what not to do to be happy!
‘Do not Walk in the Counsel of the Wicked.’
Does that mean, don’t listen to the advice of ungodly people? Or is it more than that? Not to absorb the language, morals, and methods of those who don’t love the Lord. Not to walk, or to go along with their ways of thinking.
‘Or Stand in the Way of Sinners’
Is there a progression here, from walking with, we are now choosing to stand in the same way as the ungodly. What exactly does that mean? It is a suggestion that we have paused and stopped alongside those who stubbornly refuse to listen or accept God’s way.
‘Or Sit in the seat of Mockers’
Here there is a clear description of the company, those who mock God, that we should not be sitting alongside or joining with them. The practicality of living and working in society means we can’t always choose who we spend time with – but when we can, the advice is to choose wisely. This is the call at the beginning of the psalm, the company that we keep, who we listen to, and how we spend our time all influence our behaviour and who we become.
‘Delight in the law of the LORD’
Then having reminded us of not what to do, the psalmist explains the basis for our wise choices and the root of true happiness. Feeling blessed, inner happiness comes from our relationship with the Lord. We are advised that the route to feeling blessed is found in delighting in God’s law and meditating on it, constantly!
The law described here does not necessarily mean the laws of the Old Testament, but more knowing God and His ways. It is when we know Jesus as Lord of our lives and are committed to following Him and are responsive to His teaching. When we meditate, pause and reflect, on God’s word and allow Scripture to speak to our hearts and challenge our daily lives.
The effect of that daily continuous communication with the Lord provides blessing and strength. It provides permanence to our lives, independent of external circumstances. That strength enables us to thrive where we are planted so that we are also a blessing to others!
Those who persistently reject God, have no substance and are discarded – like the chaff the external worthless husk of grain, they are ‘blown away.’ Whatever they have is not lasting and has no eternal value, just as the external happiness that people crave is so fragile and easily blown away.
Meanwhile, the blessed prosper with an assurance of the Lord’s presence and His protection over our lives. True prosperity, being well and doing well, is walking with the Lord.
Psalm 1 Prayer Points
Reading through a psalm with the attitude of prayer is a prayer in itself. But as we reflect and meditate on the Scripture we can also frame a prayer of our own by highlighting certain points. Jesus is our example of this, it is interesting to note that the first few lines of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ appear to be founded on a prayer in Jewish liturgy.* Jesus took words, that He and his disciples knew well, and made them His own. A prayer which focused on God’s greatness and His impending kingdom, Jesus changed to practical requests for our daily living.**
Prayer Points from Psalm 1
- It is the truth of God’s word that leads and directs our lives in a way that honours Him.
- Through reflecting on God’s word, and delighting in His revealed will for our lives, we find the place of true blessing.
- The assurance of God’s presence provides the strength for our day.
- It is by choosing to walk with the Lord that our lives become full of purpose and productivity.
Lord, open my eyes and ears that I might see and hear the truth of Your Word, above the clamour of my day.
Open my mind to receive Your Word into my heart, that trust in You might become a reality in my attitude and actions.
Strengthen me today with an awareness of Your presence, and protection over my life, that I might know the inner peace of walking with You.
Lord, I pray for Your help that I might be purposeful and productive today, all for Your praise and glory. Amen.
**how to pray, a simple guide for normal people. Pete Greig. (page 74)