Full transparency from the jump: prayer has always been a challenge for me. Even after 21 years of following Christ. Even after going to seminary. Even after being in ministry for 6 years. Prayer has been and can still be a struggle for me.
I’ve also been pretty stubborn about it. I’ve read books and listened to people with rich prayer lives for whom I’ve had tremendous respect talk about the strategies they used to cultivate their own prayer lives. Instead of being inspired to sit down, make a plan, and stick to it, I made excuses about why it wouldn’t work for me.
Praying the Psalms was one of those items that I made excuses about for a long time. I’ve read about it. Heard pastors preach about it. And heard about how transformative it could be if approached diligently and faithfully. I even gave it a half-hearted effort once or twice along the way just to say that I had.
But I reached a point a few months ago as frustration was mounting in my life about a few things where I would sit down to have my prayer time and, frankly, just wouldn’t know where to being. Everything felt too overwhelming. I would try to focus, but my mind would go in a million different directions. I would try to bring a single subject back to focus to bring before the Lord, but my thoughts would quickly switch to an associated frustration before I could lay the previous one down. I finally understood why some people say they sit down to pray and they can’t because they just don’t know where to begin.
So I did a little reading/studying on praying the Psalms. I picked a date to start and jumped into Psalm 1. And it was revolutionary.
I had always had this preconceived idea that praying the Psalms would be robotic. I thought that because they weren’t “my words” that I would feel a disconnect in my prayers. However, the complete opposite was true. God’s Word became my words. As I read through the Psalm and allowed God’s Word to become my words and for His words to prompt my memory and my heart, I felt a nearness to the Lord in my prayer life that I had been lacking.
And it wasn’t an isolated nearness similar to the haphazard way I usually experienced nearness to the Lord in prayer. Nearness to the Lord in prayer became the norm. I had been one of those who could often feel that my prayers didn’t get past the ceiling. Now, as I regularly prayed through the Psalms, I experienced confidence that the Lord heard my prayers. More than that, I experienced His delight in my pursuit of Him, a completely new prayer experience for me.
I will explore praying the Psalms and other genres of Scripture in later posts. But if you’re ready to get started today but not sure how, download the 5 Psalms app for some helpful pointers.