Ways to Pray the Psalms

“A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves.”~~Ralph W. Sockman
Read more at BrainyQuote

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is pester power, “The ability or power of children to pressurize parents into buying them things, esp. items advertised on television.”

Today is Short Story Day. I love to read short stories, especially those from the haunted house/horror and science fiction genres. While I certainly appreciate the work and talent that goes into a good novel, I have a deeper appreciation for those who can tell a great story in just a few pages.

We had a good morning at church, yesterday. Wonder of wonders, Christi stopped by and picked up her mother and brought her to church! And she seemed to really enjoy it, expressing a desire to go back. Carol has seemed more coherent, these days, and it seems that she has somehow been weened off of the hydrocodone pills. If only it could stay that way . . .

We got our grocery shopping for the week done, as well as picking up everything (I think) we need for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We called my mother and worked out details on what we will bring and what she plans to cook for Christmas Day, so I think we’re all set. We’re trying something new this year. We’re going to try and make some peppermint bark. Seems to me, all we have to do is give Tessie and peppermint and ring the doorbell.

Get it?

I know . . . it was bad.

It’s Monday morning, and we only have to work three days this week! Then we are off until New Year’s Eve! Huzzah!!


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

After a short interruption about Psalm 139, I’m getting back to Tim Keller’s book on prayer, which is almost completed. The last time, I read a portion about praying the Psalms. Today, we look at some ways in which this might be done.

The first is called “verbatim prayer.” This is simply taking a passage from the Psalms and praying it just as it is written. Keller cites Psalm 90 as a good example of one that could be used for verbatim prayer. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Vv 1-2) Of course there are many others that would work for this, one of my favorites being the one I just finished examining in the past three blog entries, Psalm 139.

A second way to pray the Psalms is to paraphrase and personalize them. If you recall, we talked about Martin Luther’s way of personalizing the Lord’s Prayer. That same method would work in praying a Psalm. For this one, we consider Psalm 59, which begins, Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me. Most of us don’t truly have people who are rising up to try to kill us. At least I don’t. Not that I know about, anyway. However, we have spiritual “enemies” that afflict us, so we might paraphrase this Psalm to speak of temptations we are facing or “other spiritual traps that it would be easy to fall into.”

A third way to pray the Psalms is referred to as “responsive praying.” In this case we might read a Psalm and be inspired to engage in adoration, confession, or supplication. This is similar to Luther’s method of meditation on Scripture.

Of course, we can’t afford to be rigid about any of these. “Many Psalms lend themselves more to one or the other, but as time goes on, the person praying them does not even think about what method he or she is using.” We can easily move back and forth between styles, or even sort of build our own “hybrids” between them.

Of course, “much of the sweetness and beauty of the Psalms lies in how they point us to the Messiah.” If we can learn to pray the Psalms with Jesus in mind, great power can be unlocked. One way to do this is to remember that, as a youth, Jesus would have sung and prayed the Psalms, himself. We might even consider how he thought about them as he sang them or prayed them. We might consider what Jesus suffered when we come to a Psalm of lament. Or we might consider that we, ourselves, hide in Christ, when we come to a Psalm of refuge. There are also a number of “Messianic Psalms,” which help us to “simply consider the greatness and beauty of Jesus, to adore and rest in him.”

Father, as I pray through the Psalms in this coming year, I pray that you will allow them to continuously point me to the “greatness and beauty of Jesus,” in my life.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.


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