Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 12, 2015
Prayer Book of the Bible? The Psalms.
Praying the Psalms—what a natural place to start, if I want to pray using Scripture!
The Psalms have been called the song book of the Bible, but also the prayer book of the Bible. All ranges and all kinds of emotion can be found in this book. When you or I turn to a specific Psalm, chances are that we can relate to whatever emotion the writer may be feeling.
As Rev. Howell brings out in our prayer guide today, the first verse of Psalm 130 is a good example. “Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord.” Who among us can understand these words? Who feels like this, once in a while? Or maybe even, more often than that? I know that many challenges, obstacles, or troubles come into my life on a periodic basis, and I can feel like I am in up to my neck. Maybe, even, over my head. Help, God!
What about people who have some form of mental illness, or emotional or psychological affliction? It can be depression, the deepest, darkest anguish. I can speak to that, from personal experience. I have cried to the Lord out of the depths of my darkest night, on a number of occasions, for long stretches of time.
I have clutched at the words of Scripture with a death grip.
I have knelt (either figuratively or literally), and reached for the tassel on Jesus’ garments. Oh, if I can only touch the edge of His cloak, perhaps that will be enough of a connection! Yes, the Psalms zero in on very human, foundational emotion. In many ways!
The Psalms not only tell of sadness, grief, despair and anger, but they also express prayers of intense worship as well as shouts of joy and triumph.
For anyone who wishes to try a straight-forward, centuries-old practice, you can read a Psalm a day. (For the longer Psalms, like Psalm 119, they certainly can be broken up into several days’ readings.) It is refreshingly simple, and you don’t even need a special prayer book or bible study guide. As we read, we can talk with God about the emotions we see as we read, and pray the words of the Psalms, as we are so moved.
Powerful words, poignant prayers. Just a suggestion. As Rev. Howell tells us, the Psalms “express in profound ways our relationship to God. . . . they can help to know ourselves honestly, and to pray honestly before God.” 
God willing, the Psalms will help me—will help us to see our true selves. So, help me, God.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.
 James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN: 2003), 43-44.