I’ve made no secret of the fact that, of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is the one with which I struggle the most. There are a lot of reasons why. Some are understandable and some are, admittedly, excuses. One of my struggles has been, as a guy who hates repetition, I found myself repeating a lot of the same requests over and over again. As Donald Whitney has observed, “We say the same old things about the same old things” ad nauseum.
That started to change when I was introduced to praying the Psalms. I’ve written about that initial experience here. If prayer is something with which you’ve struggled, here are 4 tips to get you started on praying the Psalms:
- Decide on your plan. I follow the 5 Psalms plan because it gives me a little more variety and instills some personal preference into the process. You might pray through the Psalms sequentially, or find a list of Psalm categories to work through in some systematic fashion. However you choose to approach it, finding a systemized approach will help organize your efforts at the outset.
- Set up your space. I never subscribed to the theory that having a set place to pray would be helpful until I set a place. There is something to having a singular place where you intentionally pursue intimacy with the Father. This doesn’t mean that you can’t pray anywhere else, but it does signify within your own mind and with your own habits that this place is where you go to meet with God.
- Use a physical Bible. Electronic devices are great, but they naturally breed distraction. Utilizing a physical copy of the Bible helps you to be present in the moment with the Lord instead of being distracted by push notifications, pull of social media, or the temptation of that one game you turn to in moments when you don’t have anything else to do.
- Pray away! Praying the Psalms just mean that you read the text with a prayerful spirit, though it can include that. Use the words of the psalm as a springboard into prayers for your situation or the needs of others. For instance, as I read “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” in Psalms 1:2, I’m prompted to confess that my habits don’t suggest that I delight in the law of the Lord, that I don’t meditate on His word day and night. I’ll then ask the Lord to cultivate a heart that loves His Word and lead me to regularly meditate on His Word.