Praying with the Psalms

I’ve been a Christian for a long time.  Nearly 35 years in fact.  During that time frame there are many lessons that I’ve learned, forgotten, relearned and started all over again.  Maybe the most important lesson that fits into this category is the practice of prayer.  As a young believer it was exciting to be able to speak to God spontaneously, to say whatever was on my heart and mind.  As I heard others that I admired pray, I instinctively picked up the phrases, rhythms and expressions that I heard and saw them employ.  One thing that I didn’t do is use pre-written prayers or a specified program or liturgy for prayer.  In fact, with the exception of repeating the Lord’s Prayer during worship each Sunday, I tended to look down on the practice of using something that seemed “pre-packaged” or “rote”.  It seemed somehow less spiritual or authentic.  This idea stuck with me for many years.  I could not have been more wrong.

As years go by, my confidence in my own ability to spontaneously express my heart and mind to God in prayer has been tempered by seasons of life that have at times made it seem very difficult to pray at all.  Some days the words still seem to flow easily as I speak to God.  Other days easy would be the last word that I would use to describe the fluency of my prayer life.  It’s a great blessing to know that the effectiveness and maturity of my prayer life doesn’t depend on my own ability to put the right words together in just the right way.  God has graciously provided many resources that anyone can access to enrich and empower their life of prayer.  One of the most powerful of these resources is the Book of Psalms.

Over the next few posts I will discuss several topics relevant to why every believer (or the not-too-sure I’m a believer but I feel a desire to pray) should pray with the Psalms.  They are:

  1.  Why pray with the Psalms?
  2.  How does one use the Psalms in prayer?
  3.  What have I learned by praying with the Psalms?
  4.  Where does one start?

Let me finish this introduction to this rich topic with one thought.  Learning to pray is a life long process.  It’s the primary path to knowing God, truly knowing oneself and growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  It would be a tragedy to spend a lifetime failing to access the rich resources that God has provided for each one of us.  The Psalms are an invaluable tool for the journey.

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