Today’s Christian is probably not much different than the first-century disciples of Jesus in that we, as did they, struggle with prayer. While I cannot remember a time in the gospel accounts that the disciples ever asked Jesus to teach them to preach, teach, or sing, we do find them making this request, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Paul would later write, “We do not know how to pray as we should” (Rom. 8:26). I know the feeling.
One of the wonderful ways that studying the Psalms has blessed my life is in the area of prayer. God can “teach us to pray” through the Psalms. When we struggle to find the words to express our deep emotions to God, the Psalms can be our voice.
Consider the matter of praise. If I may modify a statement by A. W. Tozer: our worship of God will never rise higher than our concept of God. To whatever degree our understanding of the nature of God is lacking, our praise of Him will be lacking. The deeper our knowledge of God, the more meaningful will be our worship of Him.
I wonder if the reason many of our prayers consist primarily of “God give me this” and “I’d like to have that” is because we have not come to know God as deeply as we should. The more we reflect on the nature and character of God, the more we will use our prayers as vehicles of praise, and the less we will use them as heavenly shopping lists. The Psalms will teach us to praise God if we will let them.
“I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever” (Psa. 145:1-2).
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory” (Psa. 63:1-2).
Passages like these are on practically every page of the book of Psalms. Read them. Meditate on them. Let them teach you. Incorporate them into your own prayers. Doing so may breathe new life into your worship.