In my home office, I have a stack of prayer journals I’ve kept since high school. Every so often, I look through them, hoping to jog a memory or retrace a bit of my spiritual journey. One thing I notice in those earliest entries is that many of my prayers followed a similar, simple pattern. I had a decent vocabulary as a teenager, but my early prayers didn’t show it.
Why? Because I was just learning how to pray, and I didn’t yet have the words. I didn’t know much about the depth of God’s nature, and I didn’t have a great awareness of my own emotions. These are things we learn over time. Part of the art of learning to pray is learning what to say and how to say it.
One of the great uses of Scripture is that it gives us vocabulary for talking to God. There is no better place in Scripture to learn the language of prayer than the Psalms. Today’s psalm is a great example. It says “My mouth will declare the LORD’s praise” (Psalm 145:21). God calls us to magnify His name and to sing of His glory, but the truth is, for many of us, we struggle to find the words. Psalm 145 is filled with language to help us praise God for His greatness.
The book of Psalms was the hymn and prayer book for the people of God from before the days of Jesus. God’s people have been using these writings as prayers ever since, and using them to shape and inspire their own prayers too.
In this reading plan, Psalms for Prayer, we have selected fifteen psalms for you to use when you pray. They cover a range of topics, from glorifying God, to praying for our personal concerns, to lifting up the needs of this world. Some of these psalms are worded as prayers offered directly to God; others act as thought prompts for the reader. Use these psalms to practice praying. Let them expand your vocabulary and sharpen your focus. Consider writing your own prayers down on paper.
It is good to pray with Scripture open before us because all Scripture can be used for prayer. The more we read and study the Word of God, the broader and richer our vocabulary will be when we pray to Him.
As you spend time with the psalms in this reading plan, I pray you will come to know the character and love of God in a deeper way. And as you practice the art of prayer, may you grow in the joy of expressing your love for Him in return.
Written by Russ Ramsey