How to Pray the Psalms

by Oct 27, 2011

In Sunday’s message, I challenged us all to pray through Psalm 23 this week, asking God to turn the coffee-mug sentimentality many of us assume it is into heartfelt gratitude for the treasure we’ve received in the shepherding of God.

Maybe praying through the Psalms is something you’ve never tried before. Almost 1700 years ago, early church father Athanasius wrote this encouragement in his Letter to Marcellinus:

Son, all the books of Scripture, both Old Testament and New, are inspired by God and useful for instruction, as the apostle says; but to those who really study it the Psalter yields especial treasure. Within it are represented and portrayed in all their great variety the movements of the human soul. It is like a picture, in which you see yourself portrayed and, seeing, may understand and consequently form yourself upon the pattern given.

In the Psalter you learn about yourself. You find depicted in it all the movements of your soul, all its changes, its ups and downs, its failures and recoveries. Moreover, whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it, so that you do not merely hear and then pass on, but learn the way to remedy your ill. Prohibitions of evildoing are plentiful in Scripture, but only the Psalter tells you how to obey these orders and refrain from sin.