Do you have a favorite song (it doesn’t have to be the absolute best, most perfect favorite--any song you like a lot works)? What is it? Why do you love it so much? Share with the group.
Also, before you start group, remind your group members to participate in our 24 hours of prayer and fasting. You can find more info about it at rrcoc.org/livelovepray
When you read the Bible do you often go the Psalms? Or do you shy away from them? Why do you think that is? How does reading the Psalms make you feel?
Do you have any Psalms that have particular associations, a Psalm that makes you feel a certain way because of memories attached to it? Share with the group.
Justin said on Sunday, “Our relationship with God--yours and mine--should be vibrant enough, dynamic enough, active enough to inspire songs, to fill us with emotions and thoughts that beg for expression!”
- Is this the reality of your relationship with God? Allow people to be authentic--whether that means being really excited and satisfied with their relationship or being dissatisfied and sad.
- Do you often find yourself talking to God? When is it most natural to talk to God? When is it hard/inconvenient/not on your mind?
If praise is “observation turned proclamation,” what are you doing to observe Him intentionally, actively, and often? What behaviors or practices lead to faithful observation of God’s activity in our world and lives? Pick a few things you could do to more intentionally look for God this week.
Have you ever written a love letter? Give some examples of things you might say (or categories of things you might say) in a love letter. Do those same categories exist in a love letter to God? Give examples.
Consider this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible...
“But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicings–all of which the heart can do by itself–with prayer. And we confuse earth and heaven, man and God. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty. No man can do that by himself. For that he needs Jesus Christ.”
- What do you think of it? What does it mean?
- Do you find it easier to pray on a full heart than on an empty one?
- How might the Psalms lead us into the kind of prayer Bonhoeffer recommends?
Derek Kidner in his commentary on the Psalms defines friendship as candor and constancy. Do you feel like that’s something you have with God? Do you think candor is easy or hard? What about constancy? Explain your answer.
This week, take some time to write Psalms together.
● You might write a list of the characteristics of God: God, You are ________________ (filling in the blank as many times as you can).
● You might read a praise Psalm together and modernize it. Don’t just take out the thees and thous. How would a modern writer express the same sentiment? What examples or metaphors would she use? How would Bruno Mars write this song if he suddenly decided to serve God? It’ll sound silly at first, but when you’re done you’ll have a Psalm that makes sense to you, one you might actually write in the car on the way to work.
● You might compare God to things in similes or metaphors. What is God like? How so? Make a list of ten or twenty things. (Example: God is like a giant oak tree--beautiful, ancient, alive, massive, imposing, strong...)
For this series let’s have group members share their favorite Psalms. Some of your group members won’t have favorites. Encourage them to be reading and looking for one. Others of your members will have favorites--let them go first. Read two Psalms tonight, looking particularly for the relationship between the Psalmist and God. How would you describe that relationship? What does this Psalm reveal about God or what it looks like to love Him?
This week, your praise activities are actually prayers, so that’s all we’re asking you to do. However, as the discussion goes on, be looking for members who seem like they’re struggling in their relationship with God. Identify what you can pray for.
Check out this Song adaptation of Psalm 46 from Shane and Shane (you can find more Psalm songs on their Youtube channel): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbr-Oky1qV0
Looking for something informative/historical to read about the Psalms? Here’s an introduction to the book by The Bible Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9phNEaPrv8