God is the Father your heart has been longing for.
Discover His Father-love in His Word.
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Exploring the Psalms
Exploring the Psalms (cont'd)
Coupling the Psalms with prayer
Each of us has a unique way of structuring our devotional time, and it almost certainly changes over the years. But regardless of your approach, in light of what we have seen about the Psalms and how they can be a powerful tool to connect our hearts to the heart of God, I would suggest the following order for your devotional time:
- Other Bible reading
I believe nothing better prepares us to pray than the Psalms.
We can enter into a period of prayer with hearts that are fuller and more ready to worship and praise our great God if we have minds filled with patterns and models of that same activity – exactly what the Psalms give us.
We have the greatest confidence to bring to God our greatest needs and concerns when we have just had our eyes opened to His limitless power and endless compassion – exactly what the Psalms give us.
Our hearts are most filled with joy in His presence when we have a fresh understanding of His glorious character – exactly what the Psalms give us.
As we bring to God our struggles to make life fit together, we can have confident but submissive hearts when we know how unerringly God will carry out His great purpose for us – exactly what the Psalms give us.
All these wonderful facets of God and His grace toward us are found in numerous places throughout scripture, of course, but nowhere are they more closely linked to prayer than in the Psalms. My pattern is to read an Old Testament chapter or two, followed by a chapter or so from the New Testament, then look at the Psalms before I pray. Your interaction with a Psalm can be just to read it, to do a paraphrase of all or a part of it, or to read the Psalm and review a previously-written paraphrase to see what new truths the Spirit may reveal to you. It should go without saying that memorizing Psalms or portions thereof is also a wonderful way to fill your mind and heart with thoughts of God.
As mentioned earlier, entering into the Psalms through paraphrasing naturally leads the reader to meditation on the treasure found there, and then to form those thoughts into expressions of prayer that conform to your own needs, concerns and desire to praise and worship God. In other words, you may find your most precious prayer times occurring even as you are involved in paraphrasing, before any separate dedicated time of prayer. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending more time in God’s Word than you ever have before. God wants His Word to fuel an ever-growing desire for more of Him, but we have to place ourselves in it for that to happen.