Sometimes, you don’t know how to pray or what to pray. Praying the psalms refreshes your prayer life. It gives you words to what you’re going through and makes your vocabulary more color.
The psalms have been a comfort to me in times of low and high. Here’s how to pray the psalms.
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What are the Psalms?
So, what are the Psalms?
Psalm is a book in the Old Testament. The word, “Psalms” comes from a Greek word psalmos which means song.
Knowing this, it’s no surprise the book of Psalms is filled with songs/poems from various authors. Many of the Psalms were written by King David, others are anonymous or attributed to other authors.
Why do we pray the Psalms?
I love the Psalms because they’re honest reflections. There is a Psalm for every season of life. I often find myself relating to the psalmists and what they’re going through.
For example, in Psalm 6, one part reads, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3 NIV).
The Psalms remind you you’re not alone. Life has its ups and downs. It’s impossible to always be doing well.
So, why do we pray the Psalms? The Psalms help you learn how you ought to pray, give you words to experiences in your life, and give you hope.
How to Pray the Psalms
There is a Psalm for every facet in life. You just have to look for it. Here’s how to pray the Psalms.
Find a Psalm for Your Season in Life
First, find a psalm that describes your season in life. For instance, let’s say you’re in a season of waiting. I would look up “psalms about waiting” on the internet or browse through the psalms to find something relatable.
A sample psalm would be Psalm 37.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him, do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:7-9 NIV).
Meditate on the Psalms
Next, meditate on the psalm that you’ve chosen. As you think more about this psalm, reflect on your own life and how this psalm relates to what you’re going through.
Do some self examination, ask yourself questions, and write down what’s coming up for you.
Pray the Psalm
Finally, it’s time to pray the psalm. There isn’t a formula to this. Just pray as you feel led. The Bible says the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we don’t know what to pray.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God,” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV).
So even if you don’t feel you’ve said the right words, don’t worry. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
5 Types of Psalms
There are probably more than 5 types of psalms, but these are the types I’ve noticed recur throughout the book. Here are 5 types of psalms.
Psalms of Lament
There are seasons where we go through trials and tribulation. These psalms of lament are relatable during these times. Here are a few psalms of lament as examples.
“Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1 NIV).
“My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” (Psalm 42:3-4 NIV).
“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long,” (Psalm 86:1-3 NIV).
“Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?” (Psalm 44:23-24 NIV).
Psalms of Victory
We don’t only have times of low, but times of high. We have victories in our life. Here are a few psalms of victory.
“Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame,” (Psalm 44:5-7 NIV).
“Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies,” (Psalm 60:11-12 NIV)
“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance,” (Psalm 16:5-6 NIV).
Psalms of Praise
The Lord does a lot for us. We have many things to praise him for. Here are a few psalms of praise.
“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever,” (Psalm 145:1 NIV).
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him,”(Psalm 40:3 NIV).
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens,” (Psalm 8:1 NIV).
“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him,” (Psalm 98:1 NIV).
Psalms of Thanksgiving
There’s a lot to be thankful for. God provides for us in many ways. Here are a few psalms of thanksgiving.
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice,” (Psalm 34:1-2 NIV).
“For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!” (Psalm 92:4-5 NIV).
“I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly,” (Psalm 111:1 NIV).
Psalms of Wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. What better way to gain wisdom than from the scriptures? Here are a few psalms of wisdom.
“The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just,” (Psalm 37:30 NIV).
“Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord,” (Psalm 107:43 NIV).
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