Liturgical Prayer

At all times and in all places

There are two categories of psalms of praise reflecting different styles:

  1. Descriptive praise means that the psalm offers praise to God by describing who he is and what he has done, at all times and in all places. These psalms praise God for the broad sweep of his actions in history. An example is Psalm 113:1-3,
  2. Praise, O servants of the Lord,
    praise the name of the Lord!
    May the name of the Lord be blessed,
    both now and for evermore!
    From the rising of the sun to its setting
    praised be the name of the Lord!

  3. Declarative praise means that the psalm declares God’s greatness because of his unique action in the life of the nation or of an individual. An example is Psalm 30:1,

    I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
    and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.

Ephesians 5:20 urges us “to give thanks to God in all circumstances” and the psalms of praise and thanksgiving certainly help us to do that. When our circumstances are joyful the psalms of praise turn our joy into worship and enable us to praise the one who is the source of all joy.

When our circumstances are difficult and trying, how can we pray the psalms of praise? In difficult times, praying the psalms of praise pulls us out of ourselves and enables us to live in the light of God’s presence, guided by the one who makes “all things work for good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Praying the psalms of praise when we are sad or worried introduces us to one of the most profound mysteries of the Office. When we pray the Office we are not praying in our own name “so much as in the name of the whole body of Christ” (General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours ¶ 108). As we pray the Office we are joined to all God’s people in their joy and sorrow. If we are depressed and the psalm we are praying is a psalm of praise we can pray the psalm for someone else, someone who is joyful, as a way of sharing their experience, as a way of learning to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).

Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God – Rule of Benedict 43:3

The School of Prayer: An Introduction to the Divine Office for all Christians by John Brook, 1992, pages 43-44, 47-48