Exploring Prayer: Praying the Psalms
SUNDAY, MARCH 24 at 10:00AM

The Exploring Prayer series continues through the Lent season, and this Sunday’s theme is Praying the Psalms. I am delighted to announce that we will have a guest preacher -Rabbi Seth Castleman. It will be powerful to hear about praying the Psalms from a Jewish perspective.

Rabbis Seth had asked me whether he could come to St. Mark’s and speak about his current work with Exodus Project, a group working with people being released from the County Jail. He is well known to many in the St. Mark’s community through his work with Sacramento ACT.

The book of Psalms in the Christian Bible came directly from the Jewish tradition, although it is placed in a different position in relation to the other books in the Christian Bible. Different psalms speak to a huge variety of human concerns, and they were probably originally recited for four or five hundred years before being included in a written scriptural form.

As you read this Jewish translation of Psalm 139, try asking yourself how you would be feeling if you were the person writing these words.


Psalm 139 1-14, 23-24 Jewish Publication Society translation

O Lord, You have examined me, and known me.

When I sit down or stand up You know it;

You discern my thoughts from afar.

You observe my walking and reclining,

and are familiar with all my ways


There is not a word on my tongue

but that You, O Lord, know it well.

You hedge me before and behind;

You lay Your hand upon me.

It is beyond my knowledge;

it is a mystery; I cannot fathom it.


Where can I escape from Your spirit?

Where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;

if I descend to Sheol, You are there too. If I take wing with the dawn

to come to rest on the horizon;

even there Your hand will be guiding me,

Your right hand will be holding me fast.


If I say, “Surely darkness will conceal me,

night will provide me with cover,”

darkness is not dark for You;

night is as light as day;

darkness and light are the same.

It was You who created my conscience;

You fashioned me in my mother’s womb.

I praise You,

for I am awesomely, wondrously made;

Your work is wonderful;

I know it very well.


Examine me, O God, and know my mind;

probe me and know my thoughts;

See if I have vexatious ways,

 guide me in the ways everlasting. 


How did you feel as you read these words? Do you feel the same intimate connection to God as the psalmist did? The person who originally created these words probably lived in a rural community 2,500 or 3,000 years ago. Do you feel a common humanity with that person as you read? What came to mind about you when you read the psalmists confession of “vexatious ways?”



Prayers please for:


Lois Adamek

Ruth Ann Baker

Ginny Baldauf

Peggy & Paul Blankenship

Jim & Johanna Brownell

Pat & Gordon Close

Norm Eade

Nina Henley

Nancy Lawman

Becky Matt

Jim Munro

Mary Rowe

Pat Rush

Vivian Noble -Thanks be to God! Vivian has been scheduled for the long-awaited liver transplant on April 4th. We praise God for a generous anonymous donor.

Wendy Slater