Monday, September 1, 2014

How do We Pray the Psalms?

How do we pray the Psalms? We should surely take our lead from the Holy Fathers of the Early Church and learn from their wisdom. Whilst researching the origins of the Jesus Prayer, I came across some fascinating insights in psalm-commentaries accredited to Fathers of the third, fourth and fifth centuries. These insights and the understanding of the Psalms which they promote, would have been available to the earliest monks and nuns of Egypt, from where the Jesus Prayer is believed to have emerged.

The most important of these insights presented to us by the Holy Fathers is that praying the Psalms involves us with an ongoing conversation with our Lord Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we find the writers of these commentaries interpreting the various verses of the Psalms Christologically – seeing in the Psalm-text a clear reference to Jesus. It is not an exaggeration to say that these Fathers make a habit of identifying the God of the Psalter with the Person of Christ.

St. Athanasios of Alexandria (296-373) regularly finds references to Jesus in such phrases in the Psalms as the “name of God” and the “face of God.” For example, “Let them acknowledge his great name, for it is awesome and holy” in Psalm 98.3 (99.3) he takes to mean the name of “Jesus,” with an implicit reference to Philippians 2.10-11. Again, with regard to Psalm 4.7, “The light of your face was made to shine upon us, O Lord,” he understands face to mean Christ, for, he says, “Christ is the Light of the World.”

Read more at myocn.net
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