Praying Through the Psalms

My family and friends will tell you that I rarely find myself at a loss for words. I can easily talk about anything with anyone at anytime. While talking to others may come easily for me, listening doesn’t. It often takes a lot of effort for me to silence my own thoughts and words to allow room for others to speak.

The patterns of my human conversations are mirrored in my spiritual life – especially when it comes to prayer. I can easily rattle off a list of concerns and requests to God in prayer, but it is a battle for me allow silence for the Lord to speak back. It also leaves no space for God to direct my prayers – conforming my will to His.  I have spent years looking for strategies to help me slow down so I can experience the joy of a true conversation with our living God.  Since the primary way God speaks to us is through the Bible, one strategy I return to often is “praying through the psalms.” I originally learned this technique from Professor Donald Whitney who says, “God gave the Psalms to us so that we would give the Psalms back to God.”

If you use the Bible in One Year, you know there is a daily Psalm reading included, providing a great way to practice guided prayer which allows for both talking to and hearing from God.

Let’s use today’s BIOY reading, Psalm 15:1-5, as an example:

“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.”

I begin by slowly reading the entire Psalm through one time. Then, I go back and read each verse individually, providing silent space between verses for the Spirit to prompt my own prayer responses. I am always surprised at what this method of prayer brings to the forefront of my mind – sometimes it is a sin to confess, sometimes a friend’s name, but it is always an opportunity to pray as the Spirit leads me.

This prayer technique brings me focus and joy as I pray because I know that God is working through His scripture to align my thoughts and desires with his own.  I hope that you can find new joy in prayer as you practice praying the psalms this week!

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