2015: Year of the Psalms

In terms of reading Scripture, this year my single priority is to read the Psalms.

I’ve set myself targets before with the Psalms, and failed, and with hindsight I think my mistake might have been to study too hard. So, instead of developing momentum or habit or familiarity, I just ran into the sand.

When I’m reading technical or academic work that is important I always go through the material twice: once to get an overview, then again in detail, to study.

Reading Bonhoeffer, and “being with” (at least on twitter) practising Christians, I learn about traditions of praying through the whole book of Psalms over and over again, of becoming familiar with the whole corpus of prayer.

I realised another mistake: I had been thinking, “find some Psalms I like and learn them” — the problems being “how do I find the ones I like?” and “So, … what about the ones I /don’t like?”

I need to put off my inner logician — my inner bureaucrat.

Another thing that became clear to me over last year: I really enjoy reading the Bible. It is a real treat for me. Keeping that enjoyment is the highest priority — and study, targets, missing targets, … all drains the enjoyment.

** The new regime

I have Psalms in a little booklet in my briefcase, in a Bible on my phone, and in a hefty Tanakh by the bed. The Psalms are always within reach.

I can read as many as I like in a day, but only one at a time. No study or anything heavy duty is allowed, but I can jot down a number and a few words.

I don’t have to read a new Psalm, I can read one I’ve already read.

Keep a tab on where I’m up to (currently Ps. 44).

If I have read all the way through once by end June, I’ll be very happy.

Once I’ve read all the way through once, keep going. This time notice themes, verses I can use as little prayers, or stitch into prayers of my own.

As autumn heads into winter, I start to think about some of the shorter Psalms with which I feel most resonance.

My Christmas present to myself for 2015 can be a small collection of these shorter Psalms for me to learn in 2016. My first book of Psalms.

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  1. We each have to find what works for us (and be willing to move when it does). What a beautiful regime you have set up!

    • Dear Lisa, sorry I didn’t see your comment!

      You’re right that the will always has to be there. I’m enjoying it a lot so far — maybe the time is right.



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