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Praying the Psalms

Most of us were taught to pray with closed eyes and bowed heads. While there is nothing wrong with this approach—as it is a posture of reverence—I want to challenge you to add another form of prayer to your routine—namely, praying with open eyes and an open Bible. While using any Scripture as a prayer guide can be helpful, I find praying through the Psalms particularly useful. Here are some reasons why:

  1. The Psalms teach us to pray in a God-glorifying way. From new to seasoned believers, many Christians have shared with me that they simply do not know how to pray; they usually mean that they don’t know how to pray in a way that pleases the Lord. The Psalter—though full of requests—is immensely God-centered (as is all of Scripture); using it as a prayer guide helps us with the aim of honoring God in our prayers. 

  2. The Psalms cover the full range of human emotions. In his preface to his commentary on the Psalter, John Calvin writes that the Psalms are an “anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” For any emotional state that we might experience, there is a psalm that will resonate with us.  


  3. The Psalms are an expanded version of the Lord’s prayer1There is a simple way that I like to break down the Lord’s prayer: Adoration, supplication, and sanctification. Adoration would involve praises to God; supplication is requests made to God; sanctification involves repentance and a desire to walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. I believe that our prayers should involve all three of these categories. Interestingly, the individual psalms include at least one— if not all three— of these elements.

      
  4. The Psalms protect us against western individualism. Chris Ash writes, “In Western cultures, we think our Christianity is a “me and God” thing; but, more fundamentally, it’s a “we and God” thing—where “we” means the church of Jesus Christ in all the world and every age2.” In praying through the Psalter, we join the words of believers worldwide, and we echo saints throughout the ages. What an encouragement it is to know that we are not in this alone!

Below is a prayer that I wrote, using the 25th Psalm as a guide; I shared it in a recent sermon. 

Father in heaven, we humbly come before You today. Our world seems to be in a mess right now. Our hearts are broken over what is transpiring in this country. But, to You oh Lord, we lift our souls—it is You alone who can help us; our trust is not in a mayor, a governor, nor a president. We pray Lord that we would not be put to shame by those who violently oppose your church. Thank you, that those who wait for you will not be put to shame, but only the wicked.

In a time where evil is celebrated, help our church to know Your path and to remain faithful. Give us understanding of Your Holy Word. We wait for You Lord—You are our salvation.

Thank You for Your abundant mercy, gracious Lord. Thank You that you do not count our sins against us, for we are in Christ.

You are good and upright; You have mercy upon the sinner. You bless the humble and those who walk according to the Scriptures.

Help us to have a healthy fear of You, Lord. As we do, we knowYour blessing will be upon us. You even call us friend!

We confess our sins—things that we have done that we shouldn’t have done, and things we’ve left undone that we should have done. Consider our trouble and deliver us oh Lord.

Consider all those who are rising against Christians. Help us to stay faithful—protect us and watch over us.


Thank you that the gates of hell shall not prevail against your church. We look forward to Christ’s return, when we shall know our redemption in fullness.

 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Why not add the discipline of reading and praying one Psalm to your daily time with Lord? It will bless you immensely! 

1,2: 7 Reasons You Should Pray the Psalms. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/7-reasons-pray-the-psalms/