So you want a consistent and productive prayer life but you don’t know where to start. You are not alone. Prayer is important but as soon as you sit down to pray your mind starts to wander and soon you are planning a week’s worth of dinners.
Last week, I shared a few things that you can do to make your prayer life more consistent. Has anyone read Six Tips for a Consistent Prayer Life? Has it made a difference in your life? Writing about prayer this week has really made me pay close attention to my own prayer life and let me tell you right now that I struggle from the same mind wanderings that you do.
Today, let’s focus on using Psalms as a prayer guide.
I didn’t come up with this technique on my own, I was taught it when I attended Seminary and it has made such a difference in my life that I just have to share it with you.
You can use this technique every single day or just whenever you want to pray but don’t know where to start. Every time I do this I end up praying for things that I might not have thought of otherwise.
So will you join me today? Grab your Bible and a pen and let’s get started. (I usually write in my Bible with a pink gel pen but today I printed out my Psalm so that it would be easier to share with you.)
First, pick a Psalm. Don’t spend a long time choosing a chapter. I pick my Psalm by the date or a multiple of the date. Today is the 13th so I will read Psalm 13, 26, 39, 52, 65, 78, etc… Does that make sense? It’s a way to read the Psalms without just reading them numerically which feels overwhelming to me because there are 150 Psalms. I usually look at 2 or 3 of these chapter and pick whichever Psalm seems to speak to me. Today I looked at Psalm 13 and Psalm 26 and picked Psalm 13. I really like this method but you don’t have to use it if you don’t like it.
Ask God to open your heart, speak to you, and give you the words to pray. I have a tendency to start praying and get distracted, then ask God to forgive me, and continue praying. Since I know I need help, I like to start my prayer time by letting God know that I need Him to intervene and stay with me as I pray. I usually ask for focus and that God would put things on my heart for which I need to pray.
Read and digest the whole Psalm at once. Just read it over to get a sense of what is coming. Think about the Psalm’s audience and meaning. What truths do we learn in this Psalm? Just read it over so you are familiar with it. Don’t spend too much time on this.
Read a verse, make a note, pray whatever comes to your mind, repeat. Here’s the fun part. Be open minded and take a deep breath. Read the first verse or first couple of verses. Today, I read verses 1 and 2 and then paused. I made notes on the page about whatever came to my mind first. I circled things that stood out to me. This only takes a few minutes. See my example below:
Then, I prayed. Verse two talks about lies and flattering lips so I prayed that I would only speak truth and that I would be careful with my words so that I don’t hurt anyone. I prayed that I wouldn’t have a ‘double heart’ and that God would reveal areas in which I am failing others so that I can be forgiven.
Next, I read verses 3 and 4. I immediately thought of all of the terrorist groups that we are up against and this led to prayers that God would cut them off from us and keep us safe. I prayed for our country and that our leaders would make decisions that would good for us. I prayed for next year’s election and that the next president would be a Godly one. The last part that says “Who is master over us?” humbled me. I don’t want to be proud like that. I need to remember that God is my Master and is in charge and I prayed that I would be humble. Here is a snapshot:
Then, I read verses 5 and 6. Whenever I read about the Lord rising to help the poor I immediately felt joy that our God is who He is and that he does not stay silent. I praised Him for this. There are so many people in pain in our world, but God has risen and we know that He will be victorious. Absolutely amazing! I also was reminded of a girl who came into our church food pantry this week. She was so sweet but life was rough for her. I prayed for her.
Do you see the pattern? Make notes while you read and the prayers will come to you. Make sure that you are in your quiet place and just listen to God and He will help you find the words to say.
Lastly, I read verses 7 and 8. This Psalm ends with a promise and a warning. God promises to guard us and we are warned of the wicked that prowls the Earth. I prayed for our safety. Maybe you haven’t heard, but our nation has suffered two school shooting in the past two weeks. Just turn on the news. We need to pray for safety for ourselves and our nation. But also, I was reminded that God died for everyone. And I prayed that the gospel would reach as many people as possible.
Whew. This has become a rather lengthy post. I’m so glad that you stuck it out with me! At this point, you can continue reading the Bible and praying over scripture, write in your prayer journal, or read a devotional. But let’s call it a day for now! Using Psalms as your prayer guide is work. But it is so, so worth it. Give this method a try and let me know how it works for you. Please, please, please let me know if you have any questions. I will gladly help you get started!
This post is part of a series called Anchored in Prayer. If you want to keep reading this series you can follow me on social media or join the mailing list. I’ll share a new post each Wednesday.