For thousands of years, countless God-followers have grown spiritually by praying the Psalms every day. Maybe you’ve never heard this or been challenged with such, but I would ask you to consider making a lifestyle change so that you are praying the Psalms every day. How?
Step #1) Make sure you are in a place free of distraction. No cell phones, no iPad, no TV or radio. God deserves your undivided attention for at least a bit of time every day.
Step #2) Read the psalm, or section of a longer psalm, once through to make sure you understand it’s general meaning. Use the notes at the bottom of your study Bible, or a commentary like Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David, to help you if you struggle with the meaning.
Step #3) Go back through the psalm, in prayer, and respond to each line (or set of lines) as you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you.
It’s that simple. Here’s an example from my own prayer life to show you how this might look.
First, the psalm itself:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like the chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
And now, my own prayers and reflections:
“Blessed is the man”
Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth, High King of all, may this be the goal of my life. My essence. My being. Blessing. Not prosperity. Not happiness. Not comfort. Not popularity. Not fame, but blessing. To know You and Your Name, the greatness of Your power, and Your love in the world. May I see You and know You. May your favor and goodness be continually manifested in my heart. Blessing. This is what I desire. All of Your goodness and strength bringing life to all my self-centered weakness. Lord, teach me what true blessing is. Cultivate in me a greater desire for it, and in your grace, give it to me.
“who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,”
Many my days, my thoughts and my reflections are marked by confusion and uncertainty, oh God. With this, my desire for direction is great. I am in need of someone to show me the way. However, may my heart be protected from the advice and teaching – the counsel – which does not come from You. As wise as it may seem, as many results as it may promise, and as quick as it may be made available, turn my gaze away from it. Even though I may slip on occasion, even though I may stumble and fall due to my allowing the counsel of the wicked to make it’s way into my heart, help me not to walk in it. Deliver me from the wisdom of hell and into the blessing of Your Word and Your ways.
“nor stands in the way of sinners,”
There is a way that seems right to me, but I know it leads nowhere but destruction. A lifestyle beckons, tugs and pulls – and those who live it invite me in. Don’t let me fall victim. Don’t let me be assimilated. I wish to be a part of Your Kingdom of light – not a mindless hive dripping with the sweet honey of sin that leads nowhere but away from you. Keep me from becoming stuck to this hive. May I walk, live, breathe, move, contemplate and meditate according to Your ways – not the ways of those who have fallen victim to the lie that we can live, and live well, outside of your ways.
“nor sits in the seat of scoffers;”
My heart is full of mockery, God. Without Your guidance, the lens through which I view the world is exceedingly dark. With humor, I process the negativity I see every day – and I express it with the scoffers. I see the world’s nonsense and mock. I see the religious idiots’ hypocrisy and mock. Rather than finding the sacred in all that confronts me, I often choose to focus on that which is fallen. I sit in the seat of scoffers. May my heart be changed oh, God – may I see Your image even in hardest of hearts. May I see Your beauty even in what the world would call ugly, may I see your Light even in the darkest of nights, and may I experience Your life even when I’m stalked by death.
“but his delight is in the law of the Lord,”
Money. Power. Sex. Acclaim. Influence. All things that delight the heart of a young man. But why? Why spend money on what is not bread? Why spend my labor on what does not satisfy? At some point, someone told me that all these things would fill my soul and give my life meaning and purpose. And I believed them. My heart went after this, and while I prospered for a season, the day of reckoning came. If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band. If you wanna borrow, you gotta pay the man. Out of Your grace, oh Lord, show me those places in my soul that are the foundation of all I am – and show me how these places are only satisfied by sweet and holy communion with You. The real presence of my Master, King, Father and even Friend. In Your law – your instruction – may I be led to the garden whereby I might enjoy hearing your footsteps in the cool of the day. Your Word – may I seek it, hunger after it, thirst after it, find life in it, and be restored by it.
“and on his law he meditates day and night.”
We think about what we love. Do I love Your torah? Your instruction? Your law? In an of myself, I must admit that I don’t. I love other things. I love my own plans. I love my future. I love my stuff. I love…me. And upon me I meditate. How I can do better. How I can make this happen. How I can make that happen. But God, could You make it such that meditation was – all day and all night – on the wonder and blessing of Your Word? Could your ways be more than just cute religion to me? Could they truly drive me, motivate me, and change me? May it be. May it be that I think of You and Your Word in my coming and in my going. When I rise in the morning and when I sleep at night. When I’m walking along the way. When I’m spending time with those I love. I have no interest in living for You because I’m supposed to. If I live for You, may it be because I can do no other. May it be because my delight is in You, and may it be because Your Word has been on my mind and in my heart day and night.
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water”
A tree. Your symbol of strength, beauty and fruitfulness. Planted – established and stable – by that which gives life – water. God, do you desire that I exhibit Your strength? Your fruitfulness? Your beauty? Then here is my prayer: may You plant me by that which will give me life – the water of Your Word. Wash me in it. Nourish me by it. And refresh me as it flows into me. My desire is to bear fruit, and I know that Your desire for me is the same – but oftentimes I’m not planted by the water of life You freely offer. I’m on the move. Here, there and everywhere. Stabilize me. Ground me. Plant me – right next to You. That I may hear Your Word, feel your breath, know Your presence.
“that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.”
May I produce the fruit you’ve asked me to produce, oh God. But give me the wisdom to discern the seasons You’ve ordained for my life. Let me know when I am in a season of planting. Show me when and how to water. Give me the patience to wait while your crop vintages in my soul, and give me the tools and the team to harvest what You’ve created. I believe that if the fruit of my life is grown Your way and for Your purposes, Your fruit will be inevitable. And it won’t wither. It won’t pass away, and it will always accomplish its purpose – its purpose in me, and its purpose in my world.
“In all that he does, he prospers.”
Teach me the true meaning of prosperity. May I never confuse wealth with possessions, and may I never think that life is found in the abundance of material things. I can’t seek prosperity until You’ve convinced me of what it actually is – and yes, my culture has warped my view of this. Prosperity is surely not what it is made out to be by my world. May you help me to not be confirmed to the pattern of this world, but help me – and my views on prosperity – to be transformed by Your torah, your instruction, Your law. And when I gain this understanding, please give me the prosperity You promise.
“The wicked are not so,
but are like the chaff that the wind drives away.”
My life, God. May it mean something – to You and to others. When my days are done, may the mark I leave point them to You. May the footsteps that I leave lead them to believe. May the work of my hand and the toil of my soul not be in vain – may it outlive my body. Don’t allow what I’ve done to be driven away – may it be meaningful, and may its meaning be found in You and in the future of Your Kingdom in eternity.
“Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
As Your judgment comes – in time and in eternity – may the blood of Jesus be my shield. May it be said that the way I walked was the way You had planned for me. May it be said that You were intimate – that you knew – my way, and I Yours. My desire is to know, experience and please You. The idea of being apart from you and living outside of Your blessing is a horror upon which I haven’t the strength to even reflect. By delighting in Your Word, Your presence, and Your ways; by meditating on You every minute of every day, may In experience your life, strength, beauty and prosperity – and may I return every good thing which I receive back to You and to those in my world whom You have called to love and serve. May my life be one in which You, not me, might take great pride. Thank You for Your Word – may it burn through the nastiness of my own heart and life, and change me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.