This Sunday, we begin a new sermon series for the summer in the book of Psalms. Here’s a brief word about why.

Psalms is the Bible’s answer to the deepest longing of the human heart—namely, the longing to know God. It’s a desire that goes unnamed or misidentified in many people’s lives, but it’s always there nonetheless—that restless yearning for fulfillment, purpose, joy. People try to satisfy it with money, power, pleasure, fame, achievement, family, and a dozen other options. Some of these help for a little while, but none satisfy fully and forever. That’s because, the Bible says, we were created for intimacy with God. The Bible goes on to explain that the gospel brings us into fellowship with God, but it’s in the Psalms where we learn how to experience and cultivate it in actual experience.

Psalms is the prayerbook of the Bible. In the pages of this book, we learn how to commune with this transcendent, mysterious Being who created us, owns us, sustains us, observes us, and loves us. It’s instruction we all need, because all speech must be learned. Speech is natural for humans, but it’s not innate. We can’t do it instinctively. No one emerges from the womb with full command of language. Rather, language skills are acquired by listening, mimicking, and practicing. So with prayer, which is the language of fellowship with God. The Psalms model for us how to talk to God. In this book, we have 150 God-given, Spirit-inspired models of communion with God, covering the virtual gamut of human experience. Some are loud shouts of praise. Others are quiet reflections. Many are outpourings of confusion and sorrow. All are expressions of faith and worship. All teach us how to experience life in ongoing fellowship with God.

The most obvious thing about the book of Psalms is that it’s a songbook. These are inspired song lyrics that we will be pondering—and singing!—together this summer. I believe that says something significant about what it means to commune with God. Our experience of life is so diverse—one moment filled with joy, the next burdened with grief and sorrow. How do we “commune with God” through all those different moments? Psalms teaches us how. The psalmists always sing. They don’t always sing happy, upbeat songs. But they always sing. That’s our goal—to learn to pray, in song, our way into intimacy with God.