Psalm 13

Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.


If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.“

“How do you follow Jesus when life has broken your heart?”

This was the question I pitched to a trusted friend, who sat across from me at a Stranmillis coffee shop. I wasn’t quite expecting his answer:

“Pray the Psalms.”

When you read wider than just the hits, the Psalms can’t help but surprise you. As you read prayers crafted by real people, experiencing raw emotions and singing them out before God, you hear the Psalmists speaking from the heart of the human experience.

Nothing is held back. The prayer book of Israel, memorised and sung by Jesus Himself, contains the exuberant praise you expect. Yet the Psalmists also express deep sorrow, protest, and lament. There are even questions directed towards God, which read like cursing without actually cursing.

I opened the Bible’s great book of praises and found the invitation to keep singing, even when I might feel like hell. For praying the Psalms has taught me that I no longer have to deny my true feelings – I could direct them towards the Father, open and unafraid. Or, as Tom Wright puts it:

“The Psalms express all the emotions we are ever likely to feel (including some we hope we may not), and lay them, raw and open in the presence of God.”

There are movements in the Psalms that also reflect the twists and turns of real life. Walter Bruggemann names these movements as orientation, disorientation, and re-orientation. The thirteenth Psalm, which you read today, gives us a helpful summary of how we can continue to follow Jesus through these movements, even when life has broken our hearts.


Notice how David addresses God in Psalm 13: 3.

“Lord, my God.”

We are to see God and ourselves clearly by fixing ourselves to our identity, the lived experience of our relationship with a loving Lord, who despite His transcendence, is also immanent. Whatever life throws at you, you can orientate yourself towards the North Star by reminding yourself that God is good, always good, infinitely good.

The Lord is your God. He is for you and you find yourself in Him.


We live in a world that shakes and cracks.

In the middle of storms that leave us in a spin, we feel the urge to hide what’s truly going from God, suppressing our emotions and pretending that everything’s okay. Such a response to disorientation points not to a mature, robust relationship with the Father, but a way of living formed by Instagram. If our instinct is to manufacture orientation in a time of disorientation, we may be living into the subtle lie that Jesus is only concerned with breakthrough, when He wants in on the process also.

In David’s protests of “How long, Lord?” and Jesus’ crucifixion recitation of the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, we see the invitation to leave behind our preoccupation with always appearing happy at the expense of being human.

God doesn’t only welcome our laments. He leads the singing of our protest songs. Let that sink in for a moment.

When it comes to our griefs, our disappointments from a virus riddled year, when hope keeps getting deferred, when we are disorientated, the Psalms show us how to respond:

In the presence of a loving, listening Lord, we are to lay our hurting hearts before Him. Every aspect of the human experience is a valid entry point into prayer.

Disorientation can either harden us or humble us. Yet if we learn to live honestly, directing our hurts and confusion towards God, our relationship isn’t severed but strengthened. Lament may not fix our difficulties, but it can form us in the way of trust, as we open up to our faithful Friend along the road of life.


On the cross, as He gave up His final breath, Jesus’s cries of “Why?”, were followed up with the song of Psalm 31, “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.”

There is a new way of living that can break into our disorientation and lead us beyond it. Where lament can turn to praise once again. We experience re-orientation when we choose to place our trust in God, who is gracious enough to listen to our laments and wipe away our tears.

The height of discipleship is found in living boldly with Christ, marked by honest communication with what is truly going on. For when we learn to pray and live the movements of the Psalms, the anthem of our lives will surely be,

“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for He has been good to me.”

Stuart Bothwell

Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.

Morning Prayer 

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.


Northumbria Community


Evening Prayer 

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.


Compline Prayer – Common Book of Prayer



If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.

Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.


Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.

“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”

Ann Voskamp

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.

Simply Christian by N.T. Wright
Wrestling With God by Ronald Rolheiser
Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel
Open and Unafraid by W. David O. Taylor