Cultivating Gratitude: The Psalms

November 12, 2018

I didn’t set out to love the Psalms as much as I do.  Even as I write these words, it still surprises me how the Psalms are part of my daily prayer life.  Honestly, I stumbled into them a few years ago. Haphazardly turning to them frequently when I could not find the words I yearned to speak to God.  Last year, my spiritual director on my silent retreat invited me to embrace them with more intentionality. Since then, I start my morning prayer with a Psalm.  Anchoring my day this way cultivates gratitude for God’s long history of work in the world.

How do the Psalms cultivate gratitude?

The psalms help me cultivate gratitude for salvation history of which I am uniquely part of now.  

There is something about opening up my Bible and reading words spoken to the heart of a person thousands of years ago.

As I let the words of the Psalms roll off of my tongue, I savor the ways they sing praise to God, cry out to God, and sing of God’s abundant blessings.  Praying them, just like I feel when I pray with any book of the Bible to be honest, instantly connects me to the millions of people who have gone before me walking the path faith.  This is why they are part of the Universal Prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours.  I often ponder as I pray the Psalms, who else is possibly uttering these words to God right now, and how many people have turned to these words throughout the centuries seeking words to express what is stirring within them.

The Psalms point us to the great giver of the gifts of our lives, God.  

There is no doubt who the Psalms are written about.  Think of how many times, the Psalms cry out to God with phrases such as… “In You, O God”, “O Lord”, “O my God”.  Many of the Psalms also address singing praise to the Lord.

As we turn our attention time and time again to the Giver of our Gifts, the Psalms also help me recognize blessings in my lives that go beyond what I might naturally think of in my day.

The Psalms open my eyes to the gift of God’s promises, shelter, and shield.  

Psalms such as Psalm 136, sing of how God delivered on a multitude of promises in the past and guarded His people.  As I pray psalms like this, I ask myself…

  • How did I experience God’s refuge and shelter today?
  • How am I experiencing God delivering on one of His promises to me?

There are great psalms of comfort that in times of loss, offer us comforting words.  Psalms such as the familiar funeral psalm, Psalm 23, remind us of God shepherding us in our loss.  Or Psalm 62 that reminds us of where our souls can find rest … in God alone.

Simply Surrender and Gratitude:

As St. Therese of Lisieux says, “Jesus does not demand great actions from us, but simply surrender and gratitude.”  Praying the Psalms gives us both words of surrender and words of gratitude.  Praying them help us surrender more of our lives to God and also expands gratitude in our hearts.

This week, I invite you to begin your prayer with one of the Psalms.

Download this list of Psalms to Cultivate Gratitude for your prayer this week.

Go Deeper?

Cultivating Space for God Together

  • Let Us Cry Together: A Prayerful Response to the Sexual Abuse Scandal complete series is available here.
  • November 14, 2018: Registration opens for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, January 14-17, 2019
  • November 30-December 2, 2018: Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference
  • December 6, 2018:  Diocese of Joliet Day of Reflection for Directors of Religious Education
  • December 11, 2018:  Women of the Well Evening of Reflection
  • December 16, 2018:  St. Margaret’s Theology in a Bottle, Albany, LA “Spirituality of a Busy Person”


Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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