Do you long to be better at prayer? Would you like prayer to be a more powerful force in your life? Want to experience the kind of prayer the disciples begged Jesus to teach? Praying Psalms as part of your daily prayers will grow your prayer life and deepen your experience of prayer.
5 Ways Praying Psalms Daily Will Transform Your Prayers
1) Psalms is the prayer book of the Bible
No one is born as an expert as prayer. Rather, prayer is learned through the study of God’s word and the daily practice of prayer. Even the disciples weren’t experts at prayer, even though they studied at the feet of Jesus daily. We hear them ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response, Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer, a brief summation of prayer, but a prayer that points to all the other prayers in the Bible.
Many faith traditions have long used the Psalms as their basis for prayer, praying through the Psalms regularly, not just in the church service, but encouraging the faithful to pray them daily. These are the prayers of David. Prayers that Jesus himself prayed. Prayers for you and I to use in our daily lives.
“The Psalter is the book of all saints; and everyone, in whatever situation he may be, finds in that situation psalms and words that fit his case, that suit him as if they were put there just for his sake, so that he could not put it better himself, or find or wish for anything better.” ~Martin Luther
Praying Psalms teaches you how to pray
The Psalms model prayer, showing how to pour out your heart to God and enter into conversation with him.
“They kindle a holy flame; they turn your heart into an alter; they turn your prayers into incense and carry them as sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace.” ~William Law
Praying Psalms teaches you what to pray
On your own, without guidance and modeling, you’d probably only pray through your list of needs and concerns. Yet, prayer is so much more than petitions. God wants more well-rounded prayers and praying Psalms shows you the other components to include in your prayers. Praying Psalms teaches you to pray as God wants you to pray.
“If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. If we were dependent entirely on ourselves, we would probably pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, but God wants it otherwise. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
2) Praying Psalms develops your prayer language
The language of prayer is learned, just as you learn to speak the language of your parents. You learn by hearing others pray, by reading scripture, and by practicing. Praying Psalms is one of the best ways to learn the language of prayer, by praying the prayers inspired by God and given to you as a guide to prayer.
“Uninstructed and untrained, our prayers are something learned by tourists out of a foreign language phrase book. Did we think prayer was merely a specialized and incidental language to get by on during those moments when we happened to pass through a few miles of religious country? But our entire lives are involved. We need fluency in the language of the country we live in…” ~Eugene Peterson
3) Praying Psalms help you express your deep passions and raw hurts, to speak openly about the real experience and challenges of your life
The prayers of Psalms aren’t just praise and adoration. They cover every human emotion. Yes, they teach you how to truly praise and adore God, but they also help you express raw emotion – heartache, grief, despair, guilt, fear. They help you put words to emotions you may not be able to otherwise express. They encourage you to speak honestly with God about what’s really in your heart.
“I suggest that most of the Psalms can only be appropriate prayed by people who are living at the edge of their lives, sensitive to the raw hurts, the primitive passions, and the naive elations that are at the bottom of our life. For most of us, liturgical or devotional entry into Psalms requires a real change of pace. It risks us to depart from the closely managed world of public survival, to move into the open, frightening world of speech with the Holy One.” ~Walter Brueggemann
4) Praying Psalms teaches you how to pray prayers of lament and confession to cleanse your heart
The Psalms aren’t always easy to pray, especially on the days you come across a Psalm of lament or confession on a day you’re feeling great. In fact, you may feel tempted to skip over that one and find a more cheerful Psalm of praise instead. Not only are the Psalms of lament and confession healing in our times of need, but also on the good days. Praying through the Psalms on a regular schedule will keep you in touch with all your emotions, providing an outlet for the lament and confession you may otherwise want to push to the side.
“When life is going well for us, we can become soulless and complacent before God, putting ourselves out of touch of his mercy. God may put us through periods of intense emotional and moral disorientation, during which we can nothing except lament before him.” ~James Houston
5) Psalms provide the words for your prayers when you’re too weary or too uninspired
Some days you just don’t have the words. You’re tired, weary, or too overwhelmed with emotion to find the words to pray. Praying Psalms can carry you through and provide the words your heart needs. The Psalms can inspire your prayers when you’ve fallen into a period of spiritual dryness. They can speak the words of grief, anger, or frustration when you don’t yet have the words to express yourself. They can bring a hurting heart back to place of comfort and praise for God.
“Do you ever find prayer difficult because of tiredness or dryness? When that is so, it is an immense help to let the psalms and hymns we know by heart say themselves or sing themselves inside us. This is possible anywhere and at any time.” ~Amy Carmichael
If you truly want to grow in your prayer life and experience the full richness of prayer and relationship with God, begin praying Psalms in your daily prayer time. Pray through them all and then start again. Pray them until the words seep into your heart and the verses become part of the fabric of your life. Fill yourself with the Psalms so they’re at the ready when your soul needs them most.
“There is need for some sort of prayer which is not spontaneous but which is truly rooted in conviction. What matters is that you should learn and know enough of such prayers so that at the right moment you are able to find the right prayers. Learn those passages, because one day when you are so completely low, so profoundly desperate that you cannot call out of your soul any spontaneous expression, and spontaneous wording, you will discover these words comeuppance and offer themselves to you as a gift from God, as a gift of holiness, helping our simple lack of strength.” ~Anthony Bloom