U2 and the Psalms have something in common. Both know how to infuse the soul with song so rich and meaningful that it speaks words from our heart that we might never have come up with on our own. On July 7th, 2005 during the Vertigo tour, there was a series of bombs set off in the London transportation system that killed 52 and injured over 700. The band took a moment on their Milan stop to dedicate Bono’s favorite song, Miss Sarajevo, to those who were killed and injured in the attack.
As the song began to play Bono dedicates the song to the victims in a way that was powerful and intwined with the very purpose of the psalms saying,
“We’d like to dedicate this next song to those who lost their lives in London last week and who are maimed and injured today. I would like to turn our song into a prayer. The prayer is that we don’t become a monster in order to defeat a monster. That’s our prayer tonight.”
In the song, Bono expresses the angst and turmoil that everyday people in war torn Sarajevo were going through emphasizing the strength of the human spirit and the ability to carry on life in the midst of great adversity.
Songs are not just meant to be sung. Some songs are meant to be prayed. That is true of the psalms of the Old Testament. It is also true of the psalms and songs in the New Testament that are scattered throughout the Gospels and epistles. Praying Scripture’s songs can be a powerful way to add to your prayer vocabulary and find words and phrases that more richly express your experience and nuances in your relationship with God than might typically come to mind.
If you haven’t ever prayed the psalms or even if you have prayed them for years try this out, meditate on Psalm 40:1-13. Read it over and over again. Then take those words and turn them into a two types of prayer, paraphrasing the psalm to become one of two things: either A) your supplication and request or B) a prayer of thanksgiving. The first looks forward from the position of desperation and distress…still in need of being pulled from the mire and set on the rock. The second looks back as one whose feet have already been placed on a firm footing and in rejoicing with the new song God has already given.
See what you come up with and feel free to share your prayer in the comments below.