Introduction: Praying with God!
I struggled with this disease for years, until I went to a men’s retreat and was introduced to the concept of praying the Psalms. I had always enjoyed the Psalms, and had heard they were songs, but prayers? Did you know that twice in the Psalms they are referred to as prayers by their authors? Anyway, I thought, “What do I have to lose, things couldn’t get much worse?”
One of the verses the speaker that weekend pointed out was Rom 8:26-27, “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” HMMMM. Everyone had told me to just pray whatever was on my mind. That never worked. So, what is the best way to pray “according to the will of God” if not the very words of God? I gave it a shot and was amazed!
In the Psalms I found:
- The only book of the Bible that isn’t a story of someone else, but a dialogue between “the man after God’s own heart” and God we can actually interact with! We can join in the story!
- Passion and connection I had never known before through a passionate man truly connected with His passionate God.
- Focus that could be maintained because my mind couldn’t wander to other things.
- Different dialogues that touched every emotion imaginable, from the highest highs to the lowest lows.
- How to confront God with all my messed-up feelings and thoughts and do it with integrity.
- A way out of superficiality and into depth in my prayers.
But then I kept coming up against Psalms I just, as a NT believer, couldn’t pray. David was a warrior-King under an “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” covenant. Many of his Psalms are laced with those OT “struggles against flesh and blood (Eph. 6)” NT doctrine says we are not to participate in. How could someone who was to “love his enemies and pray for those who persecuted him (Matt. 5)” pray, “Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred” (Ps. 139)?! Uh, help me out here.
I kept picking them up, desperately searching for that passion, focus, and connection, then putting them down because I just couldn’t pray so many of them. Back to Mindusconstantwanderitis. Sigh. But the Lord eventually led me back to the rest of that passage in Ephesians 6, that said our struggles were not against flesh and blood, but against the ruler of darkness and all his forces. Dilemma over! I could take those curses the Psalmists aimed at the flesh and turn them against my true enemy! So, I went about “newtestamentizing” the Psalms, replacing OT thought with NT thought in those and other places so I could update and pray all of them! Out of this came my devotional, Praying Today’s Psalms.
Now I want to make these available to you on the “PTP Entries page” I will be posting a couple per week so you can pray along with me. They will be broken out into a four-letter acrostic that hopefully will help you find prayers depending on your mood and situation:
- P – Praise
- R – Renewal
- A – Application
- Y – Yearning
But remember, the idea is to pray them, not just read them. Get involved! Interact! Make them your own and I promise you you’re formerly dry, passionless, “where are You God?” prayers will become a thing of the past!