"STUDIES IN THE PSALMS" The Christian's "Prayer Book" INTRODUCTION 1. In addition to using the Book of Psalms as a source of songs in which we can offer praise and thanksgiving to God, it also has much to offer in regards to our approaching God in prayer 2. Many of the psalms are written in the style of prayer or petition, and are thereby suitable in helping us learn how to pray, and how to express those innermost emotions and needs of which we often lack the words to express [As we read the New Testament, we find that the Psalms were often used in prayers...] I. THE USE OF PSALMS IN PRAYER A. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS... 1. "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" - Mt 27:46 ; cf. Ps 22:1 2. "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit" - Lk 23:46 ; cf. Ps 31:5 3. Both of these prayers were uttered as Jesus hung on the cross a. While suffering in deep agony b. He chose to use the Psalms to express His deepest feelings B. THE EXAMPLE OF THE EARLY CHURCH... 1. Notice the prayer of the apostles in Ac 4:24-26 a. Addressing God, they quoted from Ps 146:6 b. In expressing their problem, they referred to Ps 2:1-2 2. This prayer was offered as a result of persecution, and they chose to use the Psalms to express their problems to God C. WHAT THESE EXAMPLES TEACH US... 1. That it is appropriate on occasion to use phrases from the Psalms in our prayers 2. When we realize that found in the Psalms are man's deepest emotions expressed in inspired terms, it is only natural that we would want to use them to express our own feelings 3. Of course, we want to avoid the danger of "vain repitition" (Mt 6:7 ), so we should use expressions from the Psalms only when truly heart-felt [Having shown that it is proper at times to use the Psalms in our prayers, here are some thoughts as to how this might be done...] II. INCORPORATING THE PSALMS IN OUR PRAYERS A. BEAR IN MIND THE PROPER FORMAT OF PRAYER AS TAUGHT BY JESUS IN MT 6:9-13 ... 1. Addressing the Father (9) 2. Praying for God's purposes (10) 3. Praying for our material needs (11) 4. Praying for our spiritual needs (12-13a) 5. Concluding praise (13b) B. IN THE PSALMS WE FIND EXPRESSION FOR ALL THESE ELEMENTS OF PROPER PRAYER... 1. For addressing the Father a. Ps 8:1 "O LORD, our Lord, How Excellent is Your name in all the earth, You who set Your Glory above the heavens!" b. Ps 90:1-2 "LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." 2. In praying for God's purposes a. Ps 57:11 "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth." b. Ps 72:18-19 "Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! "And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen." 3. For mentioning material needs a. Ps 144:12-15 "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; "That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands And ten thousands in our fields; "That our oxen may be well-laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets. "Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the LORD!" 4. For mentioning sprititual needs a. As in confessing our sins - Ps 51:1-4 "Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgression. "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. "For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. "Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-- That you may be found just when you speak, And blameless when You judge." b. Or when asking for strength - Ps 71:1-3 "In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame. "Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me. "Be my strong habitation, To which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress." 5. For offering praise a. Ps 36:5-9 "Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens, And Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. "Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD, You preserve man and beast. "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust Under the shadow of Your wings. "They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. "For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light." C. SUCH EXPRESSIONS ARE APPROPRIATE, WHEN USED... 1. Not for God's benefit, but for our own edification 2. Not to impress others with our ability to memorize scripture, but to be able to express praise and petition when our own words fail to express what is truly in our hearts CONCLUSION 1. My purpose is not to suggest that we formalize prayers based upon the Book of Psalms a. Rather, to show that there is much we can learn about prayer from men like David ("a man after God's own heart") b. And to show how we can use terminology first inspired by the Holy Spirit to express our deepest emotions and thoughts 2. May our frequent study of the Psalms help us to grow in our "prayer life"!