Why You Should Be Praying the Psalms


I have been a big proponent of praying the Psalms for many years. A recent article by Donald Whitney titled “Why You Should Be Praying the Psalms” offers some practical reasons why praying the Psalms can be a great help to you. Whitney says,

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 are praying the will of God than when you are praying the Word of God?

2. You’ll be freed from the boredom of saying the same about the same old things in prayer.

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.

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 is always a part of biblical praying) and more about the concerns of God and his kingdom.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed that we should understand the Psalms as the prayers of Jesus. He said that prayer means “praying on the basis of the Word of God, on the basis of promises. Christian prayer takes its stand on the solid ground of the revealed Word and has nothing to do with vague, self-seeking desires. We pray on the basis of the prayer of the truly human Jesus Christ.”

One of my favorite things about the Psalms is their emphatic embrace of human emotion. Pastor John Piper, in an article titled “What the Psalms Do” says,
If you read the Psalms only for doctrine, you’re not reading them for what they are. They are psalms, songs, poetry. They’re musical, and the reason human beings express truth with music and poetry is to awaken and express emotions that fit the truth.

Often as Christians we think we are supposed to hide our emotions, in particular during times of struggle. The Psalms can give voice to our pain, to our despair, to our loneliness, and yet do it in a way that leads our hearts and minds to trust God in all these things.

So find yourself in the Psalms, and pray them back to a loving Father.

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