Praying the psalms is none other than joining in the eternal prayer of Jesus Christ and his Church. The prayer encompasses the enter life of the church - through bitter despairs in the pit of hell to the heavenly riches in the great sanctuary.
The community of the church does not live its life in static bliss but rather finds herself in the continual rhythem of receiving God's spoken Word of comfort - and being gathered by outstretched arms.
The experience of suffering is not an appendage to the Christian life but the portal – drawing out the very rhythm of life in Christ. Praying the psalms is to Pray in, with, and under Christ. This eternal prayer captures the totality of the life of the church who finds herself only in Christ’s Holy Passion – crucifixion, and resurrection.
When affliction strikes the human heart, the Psalms are God’s great gift. They provide a model for prayer and song for Christ prayed them with his disciples and prayed them from the cross. In the baptismal life of a Christian, all must turn to the lament in the divine liturgy, "Lord, have mercy." Calling upon the name of the Lord is God pleasing and he promises to deliver.
"For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength" (ps. 88:3-4). The daily crucifixion and ressurection in the baptismal life of a Christian must naturally encounter weakness and suffering. Christ promises to come in suffering, for only faith can take hold when we completely despair of our own personal plan of deliverance.
"As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So thro' God's Word shall men endure
Each trial and tribulation.
Its light beams brighter thro' the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation."
"O Lord, Look Down from Heaven Behold"
Martin Luther, 1523
The Lutheran Hymnal