Praying the Psalms

I am currently reading through Richard Foster's book, Prayer.  Foster is always a spiritually refreshing voice, I find.  Here is what he says on page 89-90 (in chapter 8):

The easiest way to begin magnifying God is to use the Psalter.  In nearly every Psalm we can find a passage that will aid us in praising God. "O magnify the Lord with me," says the Psalmist, "and let us exalt his name together" (Ps. 34:3).  And so we do, allowing the words to become our own.
In time, the words not only become our own but also will lead us to our own words.

I love what he says about these ancient words becoming our own and in turn leading us to our own words; I believe this holds true not only for praying the Psalms (though they are the supreme and Biblical example to be sure), but also praying other "pre-scribed" prayers from the tradition (prayers of the saints and heroes, prayers of the liturgy, etc.).  In praying with them, we learn more of prayer.

There is a well established tradition of Christians praying through large portions of the Psalter each day - as in the monastic hours.  The Daily Offices of the Anglican Common Prayerbooks have us pray through all 150 Psalms each and every month (dividing the Psalter into morning and evening selections for 30 days).  John Wesley's Sunday Service Book (a revision of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer intended for Methodist use) follows this pattern as well.  There is a liturgical Psalter in The United Methodist Hymnal with 100 Psalm selections, and I have divided it up among the days of the month in similar fashion.  When I pray the Methodist daily offices, I often do pray through words from the Psalms just after the 'standard' morning collect (before any other Scripture lessons and before the Song of Praise/Canticle). 

On Sundays at the churches I serve the Psalm of the week from the lectionary (or a portion thereof) is often read responsively as the call to worship (particularly during Ordinary Time, when the Book of Worship gives no seasonal calls to worship).  Many Methodist and Anglican Churches simply read the entire Psalm of the week - often responsively - between the Scripture lessons. 

Have you found praying the Psalms enriching for you?  When do you pray the Psalms (privately or corporately)?

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Blogger Nance said...

I pray through two psalms first thing when I get to the office each morning, just going straight through the book. I think the practice has been extremely rewarding, because the texts are so rich. At times I find myself praying powerful and beautiful words I could not have composed myself, and at other times I find myself scrutinizing my life and circumstances more seriously than I'm inclined too, searching for ways that I might sympathize with the psalmists words. It's also just been a wonderfully fresh way to incorporate scripture into my life.
It's not for no reason we're in the middle of a Bible study on praying the Psalms at Grace Church right now!

11:21 AM, October 11, 2012  

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