It is a horrible feeling when you are stuck at a stoplight waiting to turn, your engine is killed, and now it won’t start. Ugh. You turn your emergency flashers on and hope someone will help push you out of the intersection into a parking lot so you can call roadside assistance for help.
Sometimes we get stuck in our prayer life. We need help to energize our “spiritual batteries”. Would you like to know how to jumpstart your prayer life praying the Psalms?
When I first heard about this prayer method I thought it was an exaggerated idea, that is, until I tried it.
You may have the same assumptions that I had. If you have never tried praying the psalms, you have missed out on something very special.
Why is it important to pray the Psalms?
The Psalms were originally written as prayers, and show us that we can discuss everything with God.
Praying the Psalms when life is a joy
The Psalms are full of prayers of thanksgiving for the good things in life. Many were connected to celebrations. We have much to celebrate in life and can take many of our cues from the Psalms we read.
Praying the Psalms as you realize God is awesome
The Psalms are also a great place to find ways to praise God for His awesome qualities and characteristics. You will find His faithfulness, compassion, holiness, and so much more in the Psalms. We can almost quote some of these Psalms entirely back to God.
Praying the Psalms when feeling negative
The Psalms give us concrete examples of how to pray. They are especially helpful when we are sad, hurt, grieving- all those unpleasant negative feelings when everything seems to be going wrong. These Psalms are called Psalms of Lament. Examples are Psalms 7, 22, 84, 86, 102, and 140.
Many times we can replace the situation in the Psalm with our own circumstances. Then we will find a transition in the text where the Psalm focuses on God, who will sustain us.
The point of the Psalms of Lament is not for a marathon pity party. Instead, they are to help us see that God is bigger than any problem we face. “If God is for us, who can be against us.” Romans 8:31.
Praying the Psalms when evil is all around us
Some of the Psalms are called imprecatory, which simply means asking God to punish the wicked. There are 30 of them. Examples include Psalms 5, 28, 69, 83, and 143.
What we need to know about these Psalms is that they were not used for personal revenge over trivial situations. They were for the judgment of rebellion against God and His ways, an expression of moral indignation. They were asking God to vindicate His Holy name.
How do you use the psalms to pray?
When we read the Psalms, different verses may trigger thoughts about any number of things:
- how we are feeling
- problems we are facing
- needs of our family and friends
- troubling political climates
- things that we are thankful for
- the awesomness of God
As these thoughts come to mind- we can stop and pray using some of the same words we just read.
The Psalms were written about real human experiences, real human emotions, and real political climates. They were the expressions of God’s people as they approached God about everything in their lives from joyous celebrations to overwhelming grief.
Examples of praying the Psalms
The following are actual prayers that I prayed as I was reading the Psalms.
Praying the Psalms from chapter 91
Psalm 91 ESV
Verse 3: “It is He who delivers you … from the deadly pestilence.”
Verse 5: “You will not be afraid of the terror by night.”
Prayer from Psalm 91
Verse 3: Lord, I know my health is from you. I have been exposed several times to a modern pestilence. Yet you have protected and delivered me from it. I know it is not because I deserve it more than others. Help me to use my health to serve you.
Verse 5: Oh, Lord, we were terrified last night when gunshots were heard so close to our house. But you quickly calmed our fear. In another Psalm, the writer said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Thank you, Lord, that we can trust you.
Praying the Psalms from chapter 147
Verse 3: ” He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Verse 5: “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.“
Prayer from Psalm 147
Verse 3: Oh Lord, how I thank you for binding up my emotional wounds and healing my broken heart. Help me to be able to give that hope to others with broken hearts.
Verse 5: Lord, my friend is on her way to her grandfather. I know you understand the grief she feels far more than I do. How I pray you will comfort her in just the way she needs.
Praying the Psalms from chapter 32
Verse 7: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
Prayer from Psalm 32
Lord, thank you for the many “songs of deliverance” that you have surrounded me with over the years. Every time I hear them, they remind me that you are always with me. I don’t know what I would do if I did not have you as my hiding place.
Praying the Psalms directs our thoughts
Do you see how the Psalms lead our minds to things to pray about?
The “songs of deliverance” from Psalm 32 lead me down memory lane through songs that helped me focus more on God and less on my problems.
- You are my hiding place recorded in 2004 by Selah
- “Who Am I? … I am yours.” Recorded by Casting Crowns
- “I know the hurt would all go away if you’d just say the word, but Even If you don’t, my hope is in you.” Recorded by Mercy Me
- “In the eye of the storm, you remain in control.” Recorded by Ryan Stevenson
- When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move, I will “Trust in you“, recorded by Laurn Daigle
Praying through the Psalms
It seems logical that the best way to pray the psalms would be to start with chapter 1, followed by chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. That surely would be the easiest way to keep track of what you have prayed and what you have not.
However, the Psalms are actually a collection of 5 different types of prayer books with each having a little different theme. In order to have variety in our praying through the Psalms, it is better to pick from each book each day.
So on day 1, you would briefly look at Psalm 1, Psalm 31, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, and Psalm 111. Then pick one of them that resonates with you that particular day. On day 2 you would look at Psalm 2, 32, 62, 92, 112, and so on.
It is easiest to do this exercise when you bookmark the five chapters listed for day 1. Then just move the bookmakers as you progress through the month.
In time you will have prayed your way through the entire collection of Psalms.
Do Psalms have power?
Certainly, all prayer can be powerful. But the Psalms have a way of putting life into perspective, harnessing our run-away feelings, and giving them direction.
The unique thing about the Psalms is that they often begin with our feelings or problems, but they end with God. The different writers point us back to the one who created us and sustains us.
Knowing that God is all-powerful, faithful, always with us, full of compassion, and much more help turn the tide of negativity in our thoughts and emotions.
The Psalms also contain excellent examples of how to thank God and praise Him. Thanksgiving and praise not only please God, but they produce happy hormones in us which increase our energy level and help us feel better.
So the power of the Psalms is the power of God in our lives.
Final thoughts on praying the Psalms
Prayer can be powerful when we pray scripture, and when we pray in God’s will. Praying the Psalms gives us a way to do both.
The Book of Psalms is a collection of the prayers and songs that God’s people used in their worship several thousand years ago. The feelings expressed are the same kinds of feelings we have today, just in a different context.
Praying the Psalms will jumpstart your prayer life. Give it a try. You will be glad you did.
Resources for your prayer life
The Creator’s Classroom has free Scripture cards and bookmarks to encourage you to pray. Simply download them as no email is required. There are four Scripture cards and three bookmarks on a page so feel free to share them with your friends.
For praying the Psalms, I like to use magnetic page markers like the following.
If you like to color, check out the “Prayer – Hotline To Heaven” coloring collection. It will give you hours of enjoyment as well as reminders of the importance to pray about everything.
You might also like “Praying The Psalms- Journal, and Worksheets“. It is a companion to this article and should help keep you organized in your Praying the Psalms.
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