Today we continue to consider the sort of formation in prayer Jesus would have grown up with as a child and young man, and therefore modeled before the disciples. Jesus knew the Scriptures well. That is clear from his use of scripture in thwarting Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, in rebuking the false teachers of the day, and in the Sermon on the Mount. What we may not remember to consider is that Jesus would have known the book of psalms quite well too. And the psalms have long been appreciated as a book of prayer.
So, in this post, I’d like simply to cite examples of the sorts of prayers to be found in the verses of the psalms in hopes that our praying can be enriched by observing how the psalms can guide us and help us voice our prayers through the words of scripture found there.
1. Praise: “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9 NIV)
2. Guidance: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5 NIV)
3. Help: “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.” (Psalm 28:2 NIV)
4. Confession: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:4 NIV)
There is much, much more in the psalms (like lament and thanksgiving) and the best way to discover and incorporate them into one’s praying is simply to read the psalms one or two at a time. Read with learning to pray in mind. The Psalms have been called “the prayer book of the Church” as well. Sometimes when we don’t know what to pray, we can find in Scripture just the right words.
Prayer: God, thank you for the treasure trove of prayer in the psalms. Help me expand my prayer vocabulary through this ancient prayer book of your Church. Amen.