on praying the psalms

Calvin called “prayer is the chief exercise of faith.” As one writer puts it, “we do not pray for ourselves only but for God. We pray in order to become more involved with God and to fall, so to speak, more deeply ‘in love’ with the Lord.”[ ] There is no substitute for individual or communal prayer.

As a spiritual discipline, prayer isn’t pursued as a backdoor attempt at meriting favor from God. Instead, it is a means of daily grace from God. Prayer leads us to follow God in the midst of the unique, daily life that he has given to each of us. If kingdom-living is the with-God life, then prayer from a worshipping heart occupies a central and formative place. In prayer we converse with God himself by both speaking and listening.

Monthly Table of Praying the PsalmsFor centuries, Christians have made it habit of praying through the Psalms monthly as a regimen of daily prayer. The Psalms are both God’s word to us and our words to God, they are the prayers of the church, and prayed by and in Christ himself.

Here’s my confession: prayer is too often absent from my language and life. I fumble and stumble through how to articulate my own life before God. I rush and tumble through life, in too much of a hurry and with too few pauses for prayer and reflection. I’d like to change that. I’d like to learn this year the rich and wide and deep, honest and true and raw, magnificent and magnifying vocab of prayer that God has given us.

In the past, I have flirted with praying the Psalms over a month but never truly practiced it. Sure, over the course of the year I might read through the Psalms a few times – but with nothing like a disciplined regularity. I hope that this year I may learn the praying of the Psalms as part of the rule of life I lead.

I’ve provided the format as traditionally found in the Book of Common Prayer. I’m starting January 1: join me! (I’ll update you in a month …)

[1] Quote (and the Calvin quote) come from Robin Maas and Gabriel O’Donnell, Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990). 135.