“Why You Should Be Praying the Psalms” by Don Whitney
While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, I believe the book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. In part, that’s because Psalms is the only book of the Bible inspired by God for the expressed purpose of being reflected to God. God inspired them as songs, songs for use in both individual and corporate worship. The Psalms also work well in prayer because there’s a psalm for every sigh of the soul. You’ll never go through anything in life in which the root emotion is not found in one or more of the Psalms. Thus the Psalms put into expression that which is looking for expression in our hearts.
Christian, here’s how you’ll benefit from praying the Psalms.
1.You’ll pray more biblically-faithful prayers.
The Bible will guide your prayers, helping you to speak to God with words that have come from the mind and heart of God. This also means you’ll be praying more in accordance with the will of God. Can you have any greater assurance that you’re praying the will of God than when you’re praying the Word of God?
2. You’ll be freed from the boredom of saying the same old things about the same old things.
One way this will happen is that the psalm will prompt you to pray about things you normally wouldn’t think to pray. You’ll find yourself praying about people and situations that you’d never think to put on a prayer list. What’s more, even though you also continue to pray about the same things—family, church, job, etc.—you’ll pray about them in new ways.
3. You’ll pray more God-centered prayers.
When you use a God-focused guide like the psalms to prompt your prayers, you’ll pray less selfishly and with more attention to the ways, the will, and the attributes of God. Prayer becomes less about what you want God to do for you—though that’s always a part of biblical praying—and more about the concerns of God and his kingdom.
4. You’ll enjoy more focus in prayer.
When you say the same old things in prayer every day, it’s easy for your mind to wander. You find yourself praying auto-pilot prayers—repeating words without thinking either about either them or the God to whom you offer them. But when you pray the Bible, your mind has a place to focus. And when your thoughts do begin to wander, you have a place to return to—the next verse.
5. You’ll find that prayer becomes more like a real conversation with a real Person.
Isn’t that what prayer should be? Prayer is talking with a Person, the Person of God himself. Prayer is not a monologue spoken in the direction of God. Yet somehow, many people assume that when they meet with the Lord he should remain silent and they should do all the talking. But when we pray the psalms, our monologue to God becomes conversation with God.
I’m not alluding to the perception of some spiritual impression or hearing an inner voice, imagining God saying things to us—away with that sort of mysticism. Instead, I’m referring to the Bible as the means by which God participates in the conversation, for the Bible is God speaking. God speaks in the Bible, and you respond to his speaking in prayer. That’s why people who try this often report, “The pressure was off. I didn’t have to think about what to say next, and the whole experience just kind of flowed.”
Want to experience these benefits for yourself? How about right now? Pick a psalm, read what God says there, and talk with him about it.
Recommended Resource— Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck
Self-control isn’t very popular these days. We tend to think of it as boring, confining, the cop that shows up and shuts down the party. But the truth is that people who cultivate this vital virtue lead freer, happier, and more meaningful lives. After all, our bad habits—from the slight to the serious—bring a host of painful consequences. Ultimately, they keep us from becoming the people God created us to be. Your Future Self Will Thank You is a compassionate and humorous guide to breaking bad habits and growing your willpower. It explores Scripture’s teachings on how to live a disciplined life while offering practical strategies for growth based on the science of self-control. Whether you want to deepen your spiritual life, conquer an addiction, or kick your nail-biting habit, this book will help you get motivated, stay on track, and achieve your goals.