Praying Through the Psalms

Psalms is a beautiful book of the Bible. I can just get lost in the imagery, the poetry, and the powerfully raw emotion. As I have been reading through it lately, I have just loved how well it describes life and how beautifully it lends itself to being read as a series of prayers from my own heart.


Photo by Sang yun Lee on Flickr

In Christians circles it’s popular to talk about being “real”. Well, David, as he wrote the psalms, was as “real” and honest as it gets. The reason it paints a picture of life so accurately, and the reason that the psalms can be used as prayers so easily, is that Psalms is actually a book of personal prayers that were written in the form of songs. David pleaded with God, worshipped God, and thanked God throughout the many seasons of his life and he wrote those moments into these songs.

They are each comforting reminders of how we can come before the Lord of Heaven and pour out all of our griefs and all of our happiness to Him, and He cares.

They are also comforting reminders that there are other people who have suffered the same kinds of things that we are now going through, and that they have found strength from God in those situations.

Here are some examples:

  • David begs God for comfort and grace when friends turn on him. He describes the situation this way: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalm 41:8-9).
  • Psalm 51 is full of David confessing his sin before the Lord and begging to be forgiven. Verses 1-3 say, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”
  • The Psalms were also a place where David could describe His love for an amazing God. Psalm 19, for one, describes the power of God as Creator. Verse 1 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Phillipians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Did you catch that word there in the middle? EVERYTHING! In everything we are to let our requests be made known unto God.

“Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” That’s the way 1 Peter 5:7 phrases it. Again, see the important word there? ALL.

It is so easy to get into the mindset that God only wants to hear about the big things in our lives, but David demonstrated that prayer is made up of pouring out your entire heart and mind to One who cares, to One who knows, and to the One who can comfort completely.

I am fine talking with God about people who need to come to know Him, about health issues or money issues, or about guidance for my life all the way into the far, fuzzy future, but when it comes to things like the fact that I miss my far away sister or that I am worried about getting a small homework assignment done or that I just can’t seem to find the time to sleep, I really have to remind myself to take those things to prayer too.

Other times, I don’t want to talk through my struggle with sin if I have already brought it before the Lord over and over. I just want to figure it out on my own. Surely He’s tired of hearing it by now, right?

Or how about happiness? How many of us share our little joys in life with our Lord and thank Him for them? I often get so caught up in the moment of happiness that I forget from whom the gift came and that God wants to share in my joys, not just my struggles.

The truth is, the one of whom it’s said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” wants to hear about my very small, rather mundane life. He wants to hear praise from my little, unimportant lips. He wants to see me turning away from sin and longs to forgive me for those things I’ve done.

I encourage you to read through the book of Psalms with me, and to find your own heart’s cry in its verses. Which of its prayers model something that you need to be talking to God about?

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