Scripture Reading: Psalm 145:1-21
Prayer is a startling invitation—one that, after 30 years of following Jesus, I still struggle to accept.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know,” the Lord says to His people in Jeremiah 33:3. The book of Hebrews urges the Christ follower to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (4:16), and Paul tells the Philippians not to worry about anything, but instead to petition God in prayer (4:6). Perhaps most astonishing of all, Jesus Himself instructs His disciples, “Whenever you pray, say, Father…” (Luke 11:2).
Call out to God. Go boldly to the throne. Ask instead of worry. Talk to God as your Father.
This is the invitation. But what do we say? How do we find the words to pray?
Prayer, like everything else in the Christian life, is a practice learned over time. When it comes to learning the language of prayer, there is no better classroom than the Psalms. The book of Psalms was the hymn and prayer book for the people of God before the days of Jesus. God’s people have been praying these writings, and using them to shape their own prayers, ever since.
Take Psalm 145, for example. This hymn written thousands of years ago by the shepherd-king David teaches me how to express praise to a God who is magnificent beyond words. I often fumble at the beginning of my prayers, unsure how to address this Being who is so holy and so wholly other. But this psalm puts words to God’s greatness, giving me vocabulary to praise the Lord’s “splendor and glorious majesty” and declare His “awe-inspiring acts” (vv.5–6). It reminds me of the power of speaking back to God the immutable aspects of His character: He is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love” (v.8); He is “good to everyone” and “gracious in all His actions” (vv. 9,13). It gives me the scaffolding on which to build my own song of prayer to the Lord who is “near to all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity” (v.18).
In this three-week Psalms for Prayer reading plan, we’ll read fifteen psalms that 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 prompts to inspire prayer. All are given to us in God’s complete, inerrant Word. The God to whom David wrote this ancient psalm is the same God you and I pray to today. His Word not only teaches us who He is; it teaches us how to commune with Him in prayer.
May God use our time in these psalms to reveal to us more of His character. May He draw us into a daily and ongoing conversation with Him, and may His Word teach us to express our hearts to Him in prayer.