As we continue to look at the area of lament, (We’ll get to humor soon) I would call your attention to the superscriptions attached to some of the psalms. For example, look at Psalm 34. The superscription reads, “Of David, when he feigned madness before Ahimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.” The one who compiled the psalm is suggesting that if you keep that incident in David’s life in mind (1 Sam. 21:13) as you pray the psalm, it will deepen your understanding of the prayer. If you pray the psalm, however, you will see how early Christians set a new context for this psalm as they sought to understand their experience of the crucifixion of Jesus. (Note Ps 34:20)
We continue to see this flexibility of praying the psalms in different contexts when we look at Psalm 22. Psalm 22 wasn’t originally written with Jesus on cross in mind but when you think about that experience, it provides new depth to our praying that psalm for Christians.
You can deepen your own experience of the psalms by picturing other contexts within Jesus life where particular psalms might have been prayed. Think of Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane. What are some of the feelings you can imagine Jesus experiencing. With that image in mind, look at Psalm 77. It may help by placing Jesus name in place of pronouns.
I share all of that to remind you of the flexibility you are invited to in praying the psalms. Now, move from biblical contexts to your own contexts. Consider, for example, a time when you have felt frustrated in your ministry. With that context in mind, pray Psalm 55. Place your name in place of the pronouns, and fill in the blanks with your experiences of frustration as you offer this prayer.
All of this is to suggest that you are both given permission and guided in how to lift up your feelings to God in prayer. While there are many psalms that are not psalms of lament, the emphasis on lament in the psalms recognize this important aspect in your spiritual journey.