To Weep and Wonder with the Ancient Writers
A Call to Pray the Psalms
Recently, I taught on the Spiritual Practice of Prayer for my students. After one of the small groups, a leader came to me and explained the lack of understanding in how and what we as believers should pray. Sadly enough, it is not just my students who are at a loss for words with God, but also followers of Jesus in general.
In his excellent book on Spiritual Disciplines, Donald Whitney soberingly explains, “Despite the penultimate importance of prayer, however, statistical surveys and experience seem to agree that a large percentage of professing Christians spend little time in sustained prayer.” I would argue that this is the case for two reasons:
- We don’t want to pray.
- We don’t know how to pray.
Number one is another article by itself, which I do not have the space for here. So, assuming you want to pray, I would like to quickly expand on number two through a call to weep and wonder with the psalmists.
Why You Should Pray the Psalms
There are countless reasons you should pray the psalms, but here are just a few worth noting:
- To pray the psalms is to pray biblically.
- To pray the psalms is to respond to a God who has already spoken to humanity.
- To pray the psalms is to see your emotions defined and expressed genuinely.
Praying the psalms (or anything else in the Bible) is not the only way to pray but can prove quite helpful when you may be at a loss for words.
How You Can Pray the Psalms
In praying the psalms, a helpful trick I have learned is to change some of the words to reflect that you (individually) are talking to God directly.
For example (from my wife’s favorite psalm):
Notice how not much needed to be changed. Although this may not be true for every psalm, when praying this psalm, it becomes quite obvious how we can marvel at the same God with King David thousands of years later.
Here’s another example:
It is an absolute grace to have been given a prayer book from a God who wants to hear from us. To weep and wonder with the ancient writers allows us to meet with, think about, and worship the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.