When I was in seminary one of my professors, Dr. Roberta Bondi assigned a prayer journal. It was a class on the History & Theology of the Early Church. She had a couple of options for us to use and I settled on using the Daily Office (a combination of written prayers, psalms & scripture) that has been prayed for centuries. I'll admit that I was not very good at it. We had to turn in our journal every couple of weeks and nearly without fail I would forget about it until a day or two before it was due. I would try and forget. This was before the days of smart phones where I could carry around my brain along with alarms to help me remember. By my third year I had developed a better practice which including getting to campus at 7:30 am most days to pray the Daily Office. That continued until motherhood consumed me.
I share that because at some point what I had learned in my classes and my life finally came together. The Psalms are the prayers of those who have gone on before us. There are Psalms about joy and grief. There are Psalms about thanksgiving and journey. I am reminded that in any given day we might experience ALL of those emotions and more. And what is more we are not alone. Psalm 5 is a Psalm of David for the Music Leader. It is a part of his morning prayer as he prepares to face his enemies. The Psalm ends "let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them ever sing for joy."
A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their mood boost their happiness in 2 weeks. A Time Magazine article from August of 2013 reported that "researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits." So how are we singing for joy? I invite you to find some time every day to sing - with the radio, a cd, a song on your phone, use our YouTube playlist from Sunday worship. I hope that this practice will go better than my first go around with the Daily Office in seminary.
Gracious God, help us to sing for joy. Amen.