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A Prayer Companion to the Psalms

Years ago I was tasked with writing a review of a daily devotional. I did read a number of the entries and made some general comments about the book overall. It occurred to me that even if I were to binge read the entire thing, I would never have the experience of doing so over the course of a year, the way the book was intended.

So also with Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms by Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt, I chose to focus on their rendering of the Psalms with which I had a lifelong familiarity as well as a few I did not.

In the introduction they State their goal.

…They are not translations or paraphrases. Neither of us pretend to be qualified for such a task Rather, they are responses — prayerful, poetic sketches — written in harmony with Scripture. We’ve taken to calling them free-verse renderings, which is just another of saying they are impressionistic poetry without the limitations of meter or rhyme…

What that did not prepare me for was the delightful discovery of how their iterations of prayers inspired by the Bible’s hymnbook were informed by other passages of scripture, including New Testament phrases which would have been unfamiliar to the Psalmists, as well as other writings. These are annotated in footnotes, though not all are. Perhaps a few of the citations were simply too obvious.

The book covers Psalms 1 to 75, so a second volume is definitely in view. One could read this in tandem to reading the book of Psalms or on its own. It could be used as a springboard for one’s own prayers, or even read devotionally.

I suppose few reviewers will omit to mention that Ryan Whitaker Smith is the son of Michael W. Smith. He is also a filmmaker who worked on the movie The Jesus Music, which I reviewed here a few months back. Dan Wilt has devoted his life to worship music, and all things related to that pursuit, including training others.

Again, rather than binge read my way through this, I want to keep the book handy where I can simply pick it up from time to time and be inspired by its words, even those pertaining to the Psalms I already covered in its pages; perhaps even seeing it as a resource, not unlike a commentary.

The video linked below is one of the readings with background music. Enjoy.


Thanks to Martin Smith of Parasource, the Canadian distributor for Brazos press for making me aware of Sheltering Mercy.

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