The Psalms are filled with prayer lessons. This statement is not at all surprising. Those who have read the Psalms know they are the prayers of Old Testament saints such as David, Moses, Solomon, Asaph and others. The Psalms gave voice to the praise, petitions, sorrows and joys of Israel. They remain significant for the church and the Christian. The Psalms show us how to pray. They show us how to pray in accord with the character of God. Though they are the words of the Old Testament saints, the Psalms teach us how New Testament saints ought to pray.
The Psalms pray the character of God. In fact, the Psalms contain the most robust and comprehensive theology of God in all the Old Testament. The Psalms teach theology through the vivid imagery of Hebrew poetry. The depictions of God thundering from the heavens, riding the clouds and sending out His arrows of wrath are not literally true, but they graphically portray the power, compassion and judgment of God. These incredible descriptions of God are not found in a theology textbook. They are not neatly systematized summaries of Biblical truth. They were not written in a quiet study by a man surrounded by massive theological tomes. The authors composed the Psalms on their knees. The Psalms poured out of David’s heart on the hillside outside of Jerusalem when he fled from Absalom. They were composed in the caves while David hid from Saul. They were written in the wilderness while Israel wandered about under the judgment of God. They were written in exile while the Jews suffered under their captors. They were written in times of great need, of exaltation, of suffering, of anguish, of betrayal, of sickness, of death, of darkness and of defeat.
The Psalm are full of the emotions of their author’s. They were written with anticipation, grief, joy, frustration, disappointment, doubt, anger, peace and delight. The Psalms reflect the worship, praise and triumph that filled the hearts of their authors. The Psalms explore the character of God at work in all the seasons of life. They are not theoretical contemplations written by those far removed the realities of life. The Psalms are the practical outworking of those who knew the presence of God in all seasons of life. The Psalms show that God is present with His people from their birth to their death. The Psalms teach us to see God in all things, especially when we pray. The Psalms teach us to seek God when we pray. They show us that prayer is not about getting something but about knowing someone.
The Psalms also assure us we can rely upon the goodness, justice, faithfulness, wisdom and holiness of God in all seasons of life. The Psalms tell us God is Almighty, Creator, holy, exceedingly great, faithful, Master of all, Redeemer, kind and eternal. The Psalms tell us He is our rock, fortress, Savior, shield, defense, Shepherd, and help. The Psalms overflow with vivid depictions of the character of God. Each one soothes the troubled, strengthens the weary, secures the embattled and establishes the uncertain.
Read the Psalms that you may be comforted by your God when you pray. Read the Psalms to know your God. Read the Psalms that you may praise His glorious nature when you pray. Read the Psalm to commune with your God. Pray the Psalms that you may have confidence in the character of God. Read the Psalms and pray the Psalms because they teach you to know your God.