Praying the PsalmsBrook Hills Contributor
We all know that studying God’s Word and praying are essential elements of the Christ-follower’s life. They are primary means through which we get to know God, experience His transforming power, receive His wisdom, guidance, and instruction, fellowship with Him, and grow in our faith and life with Him.
However, these two disciplines can also work together hand-in-hand when we not only practice them separately but actually bring them together by praying Scripture. And the Psalms are uniquely and naturally suited for this. As Pastor Matt has repeatedly said, “The Psalms combine a clear knowledge of God and the whole spectrum of human experience and emotion.” They help us not only understand but also practice running to the real God with all of the real stuff of real life.
So, since we are in the middle of our Seeing God in the Psalms series, we thought this would be a good time to remind one another of just how we can go about praying the Psalms. Keep in mind this is a suggested approach. There is structure, but within that you should also find freedom in how the Spirit may lead you to pray in your own time with God.
Simply start by opening to one of the daily Psalms. Use the day’s date. Today is July 15. So, you could go to Psalm 15, or then add 30, and you’re presented with a number of other options. Psalm 45. Psalm 75. Psalm 105. Psalm 135. Briefly skim these Psalms and see if there’s one that stands out to you, but, regardless, choose one to serve as your prayer guide for the day. We’ll use Psalm 15 for an example.
Once you’ve chosen your Psalm for the day, begin by reading the first verse.
Lord, who can dwell in your tent? Who can live on your holy mountain? – Psalm 15:1
Then, allow what you read to prompt you in prayer. There are a few different ways you might do this.
First, you can let the words of the Scripture become the words of your prayer. You may simply ask of God those same questions the Psalmist is asking. You can begin your time of prayer by considering and wondering with God just who it is that can enjoy fellowship with Him. What kind of person is that? What must occur in that person’s life for that type of fellowship to be available to them?
Second, you can connect the verse you’ve read to a system of prayer. One we talk about here at Brook Hills periodically is the acronym W.A.R.M., which stands for Worship, Admission, Request, and Mission.
Start with worship and see how this verse might lead you to praise God. These questions in Psalm 15:1 reveal that God is one with whom time spent is meant to be seen as very valuable. We may praise Him for that fact or for some of His aspects we know that make this understanding true. We might worship Him for making fellowship with Him available to us. We might read “holy mountain” and think of the physical mountains God created which might lead us to praise Him as our creator or for His creativity or to simply thank Him for mountains.
“Admission” can lead us to think about anything we might need to own up to. Here we might confess our own feelings of unworthiness because of our sin, which could lead us to admit certain sins God already knows, of course, but which we have been avoiding discussing with Him.
“Request” is the part so many of us think about when we consider prayer. This is where we ask God for His help, for us but also for others. These verses might get us to pray for things in our household. They might lead us to pray for our world. We might pray for the homeless or for those grieving loved-ones who have passed on and are now in God’s presence for eternity.
“Mission” then gets us thinking about how the words of the verse we read connect to the big picture of what God wants us to do in the world. Psalm 15:1 might get us praying for people around us or around the world to recognize their desire for fellowship with God and for them to see their need for Him and to long for the answer to these questions for themselves. We could then spend time praying for some of our missionaries helping to share those answers with those who need to hear and even pray for ourselves to help share those answers with people we may encounter.
Third, run the verse down other lanes like your calendar, relationships in your life, your ongoing prayer list, etc. Perhaps Psalm 15:1 brings to mind some problem or issue in your life that seems like a mountain looming before you that’s anything but holy. You could then spend extended time in prayer talking with God about that issue simply because this verse brought it to mind.
Then, once you’ve exhausted verse 1, move on to verse 2 and start all over.
Psalm 15 is only 5 verses. So, you might be able to easily get through it in the time you’ve set aside for prayer, but you could spend a week or month on Psalm 119 alone. Remember, this is simply a method of prayer, but it’s not THE method. It’s simply meant to help you, not only pray, but to also connect your prayer to the Word of God. If you already have something that works for you, great! Keep at it. But, if not, perhaps you could start praying through the Psalms and discover for yourself just how real God is and how much He cares about the real things in your life.
This article is adapted from Pastor Matt’s sermon, “Time in Prayer,” preached on January 8, 2017.
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