Praying the Psalms

Praying the Psalms,or Davening Tehillim

The Psalms, or Tehillim as we say in Hebrew, have been a source of light and inspiration for people of many faiths for millennium.  Written during biblical times, they are hymns and prayers sung to Hashem expressing our joys, our sorrows, our fears, our longings, our praises, our thanks to the Creator of all that is.  These songs turn us toward and bind us to the One Omnipotent.  In praying the Psalms, we ourselves are elevated to new spiritual heights as our relationship with our Maker is strengthened.   In the Psalms, we find solace in times of sorrow, and are led to repentance in times of wrongdoing.  Psalms of supplication in times of need, and assurance of hope in times of doubt sustain us when confronted with the vicissitudes of life.

While he did not write all the Psalms, the poet and greatest king of Israel, David haMelech/the King, wrote the vast majority of the songs which have inspired, encouraged and guided multitudes to higher levels of spirituality.  Personally, my experience in davening/praying Tehillim has served to strengthen my emunah/faith .  When we make praying and singing the Psalms a part of our daily (sometimes hourly) ritual, we begin to move beyond merely offering up a “wish list” of wants, and begin to offer thanks on numerous levels as we rejoice at a deepening relationship with G-d.  It recently occurred to me that the experience of prayer is much like a parent longing to hear from her child.  I relish every contact, letter, email, phone call, visit from my children.  When I don’t hear from them, my heart is saddened.  I love them totally and unconditionally.  Prayer is my contact, letter, email, phone call, visit with my eternal Parent.  When I find myself too busy to spend time with Hashem, I bring a sense of sadness to our relationship.  That insight, that analogy, has made all the difference in the world to me as I eagerly seek to communicate with Hashem on a daily basis.  Requests are mingled in with thanks, and gratitude for the privilege of living.  It is a time for seeking guidance on what path to follow, as well as reviewing the events of my days.  I offer up prayers for the sick, the lonely, the fearful.  When at a loss for words, Tehillim guides me.  (ie, for recovery from illness, Psalm 30; to express gratitude, too many to count; for help in times of trouble, Psalm 20; for guidance, Psalm 139; to praise unabashedly, Psalm 150) 

In the coming days, I hope to go through the Psalms and write about how they speak to me.  I am no rabbi, nor am I a biblical scholar.  I am merely a seeker as many of you, and wish to share insights that I glean from davening Tehillim.  In so doing, I am singing the Psalms and hope you will join with me.  Feel free to leave your comments, gentle critiques, and questions.  If something I write strikes you as odd or incorrect, check with your rabbi or teacher (then feel free to get back with me!) 

Finally, thank you for reading this blog.  May you be blessed; may you daven tehillim with kavannah/focus, direction and intent (I don‘t know how to translate that to one word in English), and emunah/faith; may your tefilla/prayers be answered for tov/good.

*see Glossary for all hebrew words

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