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Why Should I Pray The Psalms?

October 16, 2017 14 Comments

Why Should I Pray The Psalms?

The Psalms are more than just literature. They were designed to be used in worship for Israel. Scholars of the Psalms, like Hermann Gunkel, show us how they might fit in different circumstances. We read psalms that celebrate the gifts of God to Israel, and to his church through Christ. The psalmists lament the suffering God’s people faced and call upon God to rescue them. They celebrate the king’s accession or rejoice in God’s protection for Israel through King David’s line. They even call on God to bring his wrath on God’s enemies.

The Psalms are prayers. We can use them in our own devotional life, just as Christians have used them for millennia. Monks have prayed the psalms in their daily prayer services since men like St. Benedict of Nursia wrote the first monastic rules. In Benedictine monasteries today, they pray the psalms, working their way through all 150 of them in four weeks.

Like the rest of the church, Christians should pray the psalms. Here are a few reasons why you should give it a try.

The Psalms Connect Us To The Whole Church

Western Christians tend to believe that the individual is the primary unit of the church. We talk about God as if his relationship is only to the hearts of every individual. But the church has not always understood herself that way. For Paul, the primary unit of the church is Christ, himself.

Throughout his letters, Paul refers to the church as the body of Christ. Christ is the head, and the church is his body, hands, feet, heart, and innards. The church is not a collection of individuals. We are a people, bound together by the covenant of God in Christ. The psalms are a way for the church throughout time to express our unity.

When we pray the Psalms, we pray the same prayers as the whole church throughout time. The Hebrews prayed these prayers and sang these songs. The first Christians prayed them, too. The monks in their monasteries prayed them. The priests in local churches chanted them. No matter what time in history, Christians prayed the psalms.

It’s not just time, either. Christians pray the psalms throughout the world. Psalms are an important part of the worship service for liturgical churches. Often sung or spoken in the beginning of worship, our brothers in Africa, India, China, and everywhere else pray the psalms each Sunday.

The Psalms Change Our Perspective

The Psalms also help us to gain a broader perspective on prayer. Many of us assume that our cultural assumptions are universal. Western Christians might assume that freedom or individualism are universal values, but that hasn’t always been the case. We also assume things about the nature of God and how he works in the world.

The Psalms pull us out of our cultural heritage, and they insert us into someone else’s perspective. The Hebrews were not 21st century Americans Europeans—surprise, surprise. They thought differently than we do. They acted differently than we do. They prayed differently than we do. What came naturally to their lips feels foreign on ours.

The Psalms force us to pray the way the church has prayed long ago, challenging us to think more broadly than our own narrow perspective. Holy Scripture always challenges us in this way. When we take it seriously, it pushes our boundaries, challenges our cultural assumptions, and gives us an eternal perspective.

The Psalms Show Us What To Pray

Many people believe that prayer is something that should flow from the heart without the taint of training. Much like organic farming, this way of praying seeks a primal relationship without human influence or artifice. This belief extends from a general assumption that our feelings are the key to knowledge and understanding.

But nothing in Christianity comes naturally. Husbands and wives do not develop life-long marriages because it comes naturally. They work hard, learn skills, and push past hurt feelings, dedicating themselves to each other. Fighting sin doesn’t come naturally, either. Our parents have to train us to not steal. Our teachers force us to share with our fellow kindergarteners. Nothing in Christianity comes naturally.

Why should it be different for prayer? God gives us the Psalms to help us know what he wants us to pray. We see Psalms where God’s people give thanks for his blessings, praise him for his power, and celebrate his salvation, all prayers we might expect. But we also read prayers that command God to smite enemies or that castigate him for causing harm. If King David– and Jesus himself– can challenge God in prayer , perhaps we can learn the right way to do it, too.

So, give it a shot. Try inserting the psalms into your prayer life. You’ll find that it opens you mind to new ways of speaking to God, and you’ll learn about his promises from how he commands us to pray.

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14 Responses

Bonnie
Bonnie

April 30, 2018

I thank you very much. I also love reading Psalms. It is like talking to the Lord and singing praises to His holy name. Though I fall short of his glory. I love him I know he is our savior. Son of the almighty God. I am grateful and blessed for all that he has done for me. God be with you and yours.

Bonnie
Bonnie

November 03, 2017

I thank you very much. I also love reading Psalms. It is like talking to the Lord and singing praises to His holy name. Though I fall short of his glory. I love him I know he is our savior. Son of the almighty God. I am grateful and blessed for all that he has done for me. God be with you and yours.

Bonnie
Bonnie

April 30, 2018

I thank you very much. I also love reading Psalms. It is like talking to the Lord and singing praises to His holy name. Though I fall short of his glory. I love him I know he is our savior. Son of the almighty God. I am grateful and blessed for all that he has done for me. God be with you and yours.

Bonnie
Bonnie

April 30, 2018

I thank you very much. I also love reading Psalms. It is like talking to the Lord and singing praises to His holy name. Though I fall short of his glory. I love him I know he is our savior. Son of the almighty God. I am grateful and blessed for all that he has done for me. God be with you and yours.

Bonnie
Bonnie

November 03, 2017

I thank you very much. I also love reading Psalms. It is like talking to the Lord and singing praises to His holy name. Though I fall short of his glory. I love him I know he is our savior. Son of the almighty God. I am grateful and blessed for all that he has done for me. God be with you and yours.

oleta
oleta

October 30, 2017

I love the Psalms. These are not only songs of praise but they are also lessons in life. I greatly enjoyed your article about the Psalms. Thank you and God bless you and your work.

James Seidner
James Seidner

October 27, 2017

23rd Psalm, my Mother taught me to pray when near 4 yrs old— I remember

Ada santos
Ada santos

October 26, 2017

I love to pray and sing psalms,they are like a conversation with God, they are super good for every situation on our life.

Brenda Pippin
Brenda Pippin

October 26, 2017

I also love the Psalms. And don’t read the Bible as much as I should. Please pray for me that I. Read more. And live my life for GOD. Thank You….’’

Sandra Avery
Sandra Avery

October 26, 2017

I have learned a long time ago that the Psalms are also Love Letters from God with 5 main sections. I just love reading almost every day from 96 thru 118 and then some. Praise the Lord all My Soul and Thank You Jesus!

Edna jane Davis
Edna jane Davis

October 26, 2017

Thank you for the information it was very interesting and will start praying the lords pray more often. Thank You Again My brothers and Sisters In Christ Jesus.

Linda
Linda

October 26, 2017

I love the Psalms. I admit i dont read as much as i should. I’m making a promise to read my Bible every day. I quote scripture everyday. I pray that helps.
I love this blog. Its so encouraging n uplifting ro me. Ty so much for doing this. God bless you all.

PATRICIA
PATRICIA

October 25, 2017

YES THEY ARE HANDY TOO PRAY AND A GOOD SOURCE OF MEDITATION FOR YOUR MIND BODY SOUL AND SPIRIT.

Patricia
Patricia

October 25, 2017

Yes I love The Psalms and I do pray the Psalms most every day when I am in prayer. They are uplifting verses to my soul and I have many memorized.

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