Why Pray the Psalms?
“The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time…we understand how the Psalter can be prayer to God and yet God’s own Word, precisely because here we encounter the praying Christ…because those who pray the psalms are joining in with the prayer of Jesus Christ, their prayer reaches the ears of God. Christ has become their intercessor…” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Praying the Psalms can be a powerful way to connect with God and express a range of emotions and experiences. To begin, choose a Psalm that resonates with you and read it slowly, meditating on the words and what they mean. As you read, try to personalize the Psalm and apply it to your own life. You can also use the Psalm as a springboard for your own prayers, using its words and themes to guide your conversation with God.
The Meaning of Psalm 3:
What do we do when life falls apart? This psalm provides us with an answer to that question. Psalm 3 is a psalm of individual lament, written to provide a clear example of what triumphant faith looks like when it is put to the test. The psalm is attributed to David and is connected to the time when David fled from his son, Absalom.
It teaches us how to reach out to God in times of betrayal, anxiety and overwhelm. Perhaps you're not feeling that way today, but of course you will someday. Praying Psalm 3 can provide a powerful training ground for times like this in your life.
How to pray Psalm 3
Try the following method:
Prayer for Illumination
Father, I thank you for your Word. It is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Please grant me the grace to receive your truth in faith and love, as well as the strength to follow the path you have laid out for me; in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Praying using Psalm 3
Using the ACTS model of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, read through Psalm 3 and then pray the following:
Look for anything in Psalm 3 that tells you what God is like or points to His character and give Him praise.
“Father, I praise you that you are my salvation” (3:2).
“Father, I praise you that you are my protector in times of trouble” (3:3).
“Father, I praise you that you lift me up when I am cast down and you give me hope when I am dismayed” (3:3).
“Father, I praise you that you always hear me when I cry out to you” (3:4).
“Father, I praise you that I can rest in you” (3:5)
“Father, I praise you that you sustain and watch over me” (3:5).
“Father, I praise you that you deliver me from my fears” (3:6).
“Father, I praise you that you are just and deliver me from my enemies” (3:6-7).
“Father, I praise you that my salvation comes from you and you desire to bless your people” (3:8).
A short video with quiet music to use for this adoration time:
As you acknowledge who God is and adore Him for all that He is, confession is a natural consequence. This is a moment of introspection as you ask God to search your heart for areas that displease Him.
Confess ways in which you have given into fear and failed to believe God’s promises.
Confess ways in which you have listened to the lies of the enemy (3:2).
Confess your tendency to lack faith in God during difficult times. During this time of need, ask God to give you faith.
This is a time to express gratitude for what God has done and for who He is. Allow the Scripture you have read to feed your thanksgiving.
How has God delivered you in the past? Remember those times and thank God for his faithfulness.
“Father, I thank you that you are my glory and the lifter of my head” (3:3).
“Father, I thank you that you have me rest over……”
“Father, I thank you that you have delivered me from…...”
In this moment, pray for yourself and others that you will be able to put into practice what you have read and heard.
“O Lord, how many are my foes…” Describe your struggle or conflict to God.
“Many are saying of me…” Describe the criticisms that others, Satan or your own internal critic are judging you with.
“Arise, O Lord!… Strike all my enemies…” Tell God, the Righteous Judge and your Deliverer, your honest feelings and what you want you want Him to do.
“From the Lord comes deliverance…” Ask for God’s blessing for you, your loved ones, and even the people troubling you.
Bring your concerns to God. We can come to Him in the middle of our crisis. What crisis are you facing now you need to bring before God?
Hymn of Reflection
O God, how many are my fears! How fast my foes increase! Conspiring my eternal death, they try to break my peace. I cry, and from your holy hill you bow a listening ear; I call on you, my Lord and God, and you subdue my fear.
You give soft slumbers to my eyes, in spite of all my foes; I wake, and wonder at the grace which guarded my repose. What though the hosts of death and hell, all armed, against me stood! Such foes shall shake my soul no more; my refuge is in God.
Arise, O Lord! Fulfill your grace! It moves my heart to sing! My God will break the serpent's teeth, and death has lost its sting. Salvation is from you, O God; your arm alone will save; your blessings will attend us here and reach beyond the grave.
(Lyrics by Isaac Watts)
Almighty God, we confess to you that there are many aspects of our lives and of our world that confuse and even anger us. There is no doubt in our minds that you remain in control and that all things are working together for our ultimate benefit and your glory, but on some days, circumstances get the better of us. Please help us to be more open and honest with you and with others, and to increase our faith so that we are able to trust you and live without fear. We pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Thanks to Rev. Travis Johnson for writing this prayer guide.
Want to Continue Praying the Psalms?
Use this button to continue on to Day 4: Praying Psalm 4.
Are you a Pastor who wants to lead your new Christians to learn Spiritual disciplines?
You will want to check out this 21-day challenge, called "How to Pray the Psalms" from NewStart Discipleship Resources. To get the workbook and all videos, along with an unlimited printing license, visit NewStart Discipleship.