Do this one thing every day and tell me what happens

September 30, 2023

Military drill is a daily requirement

There were always nutters in the Army who loved drill. (I was secretly one of them). As a discipline, it was rich in symbolism and when that body of men worked hard to keep the timing together, there was a quasi-spiritual feeling to it. On a sunny morning, I loved the flow; the movement and crunch of our footsteps on the tarred parade square. Drill created a sense of unity and collective discipline and its devotees used to cry, “Drill is a pill. It should be taken once a day”.

What else should we be doing each day?

I wonder how many other things we should do once a day to fill us with a spiritual sense of purpose and wonder? As a Christian, I’d like to suggest that Bible reading and prayer ought to be the keystone daily habits, but to my disappointment and shame I struggle with these.

So, as part of my 6-month reboot trying to “unscrew” my life, I have decided to make improvements in the consistency of my Bible reading. But where to begin? A reading plan seemed too rigid and I always get behind and give up. As I thought about it, I noticed that for months from every side I was being stalked by the Psalms. On a near daily basis, whether a podcast or email, someone was talking about them; so in response, I have committed to reading the Psalms over the next 6 months. A chapter a day (more or less). This will keep me busy for at least 150 days. I’m already at Chapter 17.

Why are the Psalms useful?

The Psalms were assembled over 1,000 years from the time of Moses to after the Babylonian exile. In Hebrew, the book of Psalms is called the book of ‘Praises’ (tehillah) and it is fair to say the Psalms are not necessarily easy to tackle. There are multiple layers to them. In their most straightforward reading, they are about a life of holiness and contentment under a divine King and his Messiah. A lesson in how to know God, understand what he has done and how we should respond to him.

A golden thread running through the Psalms

From a distance, it looks like they are 150 unconnected poems or pieces of prose ranging from lament to exultation. Psalms 23, an old friend, inspires trust. Psalm 139 reminds us of the sanctity of life, but then there are tougher psalms, known as the imprecatory psalms. They are much more challenging because they ask for punishment for the wicked and vindication of the righteous. In all the Psalms, however, there is a golden thread that binds them, and that is Jesus.

An introduction to the Psalms in the ESV Reformation bible sums it up nicely:

"Since Jesus is Lord of the covenant, the psalms are sung to Him, and since Jesus is Servant of the covenant, the psalms are sung by Him, Jesus is therefore above us as the One to whom we sing and Jesus is beside us as the one who sings with us in all of life’s experiences”

The Psalms are 'sticky'

The most enjoyable part of my journey into the Psalms , is their bite size nature and they can be consumed in 10 minutes or less. They are "sticky",  lurking in the mind throughout the day. Not every psalm resonates with me in the moment, but I’m aware as I work through them, they surely relate to a friend, or to the church down the road, or maybe even Christians facing persecution overseas and so they become an aid for prayer and wider reflection.

The Psalms have become my morning starting point - every morning.


There is nothing special about this discipline - millions do it, but I mention it as much for accountability as anything. This is new for me and it feels significant.

One early observation: As I get older and attempt to sort my life out, I sense the Psalms speaking to me around the burden that only men will understand.

We are supposed to be the great oak upon which the family relies. Some days, it feels like the loneliest job in the world.

What do the Psalms mean to me in this season

We are supposed to be the great oak upon which the family relies. Some days, it feels like the loneliest job in the world. My frame is weak. If weighed, I am found wanting. As the gales of life blow through me, I desire only to be tethered to something much greater than myself.

By reading the Psalms daily, I can say, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Ps 18 v 2