Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Praying the Psalms

Today is day three of the third week of our "Read the Bible Through in a Year" saga.  While there are certainly many things to write about in today's scriptures ( Gen 32-34; Mark 13; Psalm 145), I simply want to give some direction on how to pray through the Psalms.  At times, praying straight from the heart with no direction at all is the best thing.  But even the most spiritual person needs some direction in prayer from time to time.  Without spiritual direction, our prayers can get stale and dry.  So try praying through the Psalms, which were the prayer book and hymnal of ancient Israel.  To do this, simply go through a Psalm, verse by verse or section by section, using the theme of each as a guideline to expand upon.

Psalm 145 (ESV)

1 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

Take some time to continue praising God.  Tell Him how great He is.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.

Pray for the generations before you and the generations after you.  Ask God to show you how you can bridge the generation gap and tell God's goodness to people from a different generation.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.

 Take a few minutes to meditate on God's glory, His awesome deeds, and His greatness. 

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Sing aloud about God's abundant goodness.  You might have a hymnal or song book handy.  If not, then make up a song to sing to God.  It doesn't have to be beautiful, as long as it's a joyful noise!
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

You are greatly in need to God's grace and mercy.  Spend some time confessing your sin to God, and asking Him to forgive your iniquity.  Take joy in God's goodness that extends mercy to all who fall on His grace.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]

 Pray that God will give you more opportunities to speak with others about what God has done in your life.

14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.

Pray for those who have fallen, and who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

 Ask God to provide food for the hungry and provision for those who need God's sustenance.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

Pray for the wicked who are in danger of destruction.  Pray for those who have no fear of God to call on God for salvation.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Finish your prayer by praising God once again.  

When you pray on your own, you often use the same words over and over again.  Many denominations (including my own Baptist denomination) shun prayer books, feeling that written prayers are not from the heart.  Yet when you get into a free-style prayer rut, praying the same thing all the time, you also can quit truly praying from the heart.  When you go to (some of) the Psalms and use them as an outline for your prayer, you keep your prayer life fresh--but you also know that you're praying God's will because you're praying God's Word.

I pray that as you experience a renewal through reading the Bible through this year, that you'll experience a revival in your prayer time as well--because the Bible and prayer go hand in hand.

No comments: