How to Pray the Songs of Ascents

Having concluded the Songs of Ascents, I will provide one final thought regarding them as a collection and how I have benefitted from praying through them as such. I have included a diagram to help visualize the connectivity of these fifteen psalms.

As I have stated, the Songs of Ascents were psalms that were sung by Jewish pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for the yearly feasts and festivals. Since our final destination is dwell forever with God in New Jerusalem, these psalms obviously have much to say about life as a disciple of Christ, which is itself a pilgrimage. For the Christian, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit means that we are each temples of God. We are each miniature Jerusalems. Yet we are also awaiting the coming physical reality of New Jerusalem when Christ returns. And sandwiched between these two manifestations of Zion, each local gathering of Christians to worship God is also form of Jerusalem, a return to Eden, where heaven and earth meet, and God walks with man again. Hebrews 12:18-24 calls us to meditate upon the how these realities are presently real to us in Christ:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

By the blood of Jesus, the heavenly Jerusalem is a present reality for us, even though we still wait for its physical manifestation. I urge you, therefore, to pray through the Songs of Ascents with these layers of meaning in mind. Use them to prepare yourself for and to reflect upon Sunday gatherings. Use them to stir your longing for Christ’s return and the material reality of the kingdom of God. Use them to pray for heavenly eyes, even as you dwell in Meshech and Kedar.

Songs of Ascents Diagram

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