Praying the Psalms

Screen Shot 2019-04-17 at 4.18.55 PM

“Pray without ceasing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:17.

“Very little need be said to prove to you that the duty and privilege of prayer appertain to a believer in Christ, and occupy a high place among the obligations and delights of the child of God. The whole Bible teaches us the importance, necessity, and blessedness of this devout exercise of the soul. The Old Testament, as well as the New, proves that the spirit of true godliness is a spirit of prayer; and the Psalms of David will ever remain a manual of devotion for the believer, in which he will ever find some of the fittest words to pour out the breathings of his heart to God.”  John Angell James (1846)

Psalm 1

Psalm 4

Psalm 5 

Psalm 8

Psalm 9:1-2

Psalm 11

Psalm 13

Psalm 15

Psalm 17

Psalm 18

Psalm 19

Psalm 20

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 32

Psalm 40

Psalm 61

Psalm 63

Psalm 65 

Psalm 77

Psalm 90

Psalm 96

Psalm 93

Psalm 100

Psalm 101

Psalm 116

Psalm 119: 1-8

Psalm 119:25-32

Psalm 127

Psalm 130

Psalm 138


“Would you have more faith? Do you find believing so pleasant that you would like to believe more? Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace – diligent in your private communion with God – diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue – diligent in your private Bible reading – diligent in your own private prayers. It is vain to expect spiritual prosperity, when we are careless about these things. Let those who will, call it over-precise and legal to be particular about them. I only reply, that there never was an eminent saint who neglected them.”  J.C Ryle

“Moreover, although The Psalms are replete with all the precepts which serve to frame our life to every part of holiness, piety, and righteousness, yet they will principally teach and train us to bear the cross; and the bearing of the cross is a genuine proof of our obedience, since by doing this, we renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose of our life according to his will, so that the afflictions which are the bitterest and most severe to our nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed form him. John Calvin

“I have been accustomed,” writes Calvin, “to call this book (the Psalms), I think not inappropriately, The Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul… … there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn … all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.” John Calvin

“Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God…It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God is taught us in this book. And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled form all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds” John Calvin

Athanasius on the Psalms:

“So then, my son, let whoever reads this Book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired; and let each select from it, as from the fruits of a garden, those things of which he sees himself in need. For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in man. For no matter what you seek, whether it be repentance and confession, or help in trouble and temptation or under persecution, whether you have been set free from plots and snares or, on the contrary, are sad for any reason, or whether, seeing yourself progressing and your enemy cast down, you want to praise and thank and bless the Lord, each of these things the Divine Psalms show you how to do, and in every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.”

-Athanasius, On the Incarnation, Appendix P. 116.

My favorite prayer companion (besides the Word of God) is Matthew Henry’s book, A Method for Prayer. Read about it here.

Other resources:

Lindsey Tollefson’s book, Psalms for Trials: Meditations on Praying the Psalms
10 Reasons to Pray the Scriptures
Praying with Paul by Carson, is anither good book.

PC: Lilian Dibbern via Unsplash

What Do You Think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s