Practical Tips, Prayer, Praying Scripture

How To Pray Through The Entire Book of Psalms In One Month

A few months ago I picked up a book at the CCEF conference called “Praying The Bible” by Donald S. Whitney. Though small in size and easily read in an afternoon, the book has had a big impact on my life. I mentioned it in passing on the Hope For Pastors’ Wives Facebook page as well as in my 2018 reading list, and several of my readers asked to know more about it. I do recommend that you get the book and read it for yourself so you can fully grasp the concept, but I will give you the nutshell here. {By the way, it is not a new concept- there is much written about this in the history of the church, but it seems to be somewhat of a lost art among our current corporate and individual practices.}

If you had told me 4 months ago that it was possible to pray the entire book of Psalms in one month, I would have looked at you crosseyed. It wasn’t the “entire book of Psalms” part that stumped me. It was the “pray” part that stumped me. Furthermore, the “pray” part wasn’t what stumped me so much as “pray the Psalms” part.

Over the past two years, I have had a personal goal of learning how to incorporate more Scripture into my prayer life for myself and for others. After many years of praying through church prayers lists which consisted mainly of physical requests, my soul had begun to yearn for something more. I have since become convinced that every prayer should be a spiritual prayer- that even a physical need can be prayed for in a spiritual way. While we can never claim to know the full extent of those needs for our church members (or even for ourselves), God has given us a language with which to express our hearts to Him for each need.

My attempts to pray spiritual prayers have likely sounded to God and to others like a baby learning to talk. But that’s okay. Because learning to pray Scripture is a process- a lifelong process. Scripture is as inexhaustible as the heart of God Himself; therefore our prayers continually take on a spiritual nature as we practice sending His Words back to Him.

There are many, many passages of Scripture which can guide your practice of spiritual praying. But I think the Psalms is a great place to start if you are wanting to establish rhythms.

Here is the basic plan for praying the entire book of Psalms in a month:

  1. Take 5 Psalms per day
  2. The first Psalm each day is the number of the date of that day. For example, on January 1, I prayed Psalm 1 first.
  3. The five Psalms are determined by adding 30 to each Psalm from the starting number. For example, on January 1, I prayed Psalm 1, Psalm 31, Psalm 61, Psalm 91, and Psalm 121. On the 10th I will pray through 10, 40, 70, 100, 130. On the 11th I will pray through 11, 41, 71, 101, 131. See how each number progresses as you move through the month and the Psalms?
  4. On day 31 you can pray more of Psalm 119 if you didn’t get through it on it’s actual day, or you can pray through any Psalms you like

{NOTE: The book explains that you do not need to pray every single verse every single day. Sometimes you will. Sometimes you will pray through a group of verses that stand out to you. Sometimes you will scan a Psalm and move on to the next. This is the beauty of this method- it is a little different each month, shaped by God’s work in your life and what you are going through, etc. Different things will stand out at different times. Some days you will read but not necessarily craft a prayer from each verse. That’s okay- we’re keeping it simple! You are still taking in the entire book in the course of a month.}

So that’s the basic plan. (And you can start on any day of the month and just go from there.) I have fallen in love with how actually addicting (yes, addicting!) this type of prayer is. It releases us from the long lists and repetitive phrases that we so often fall back on, and which so often burden us down. It eliminates not knowing what to say, because we are simply using God’s spoken Words! Best of all, God enters into the process, and patterns start to emerge.

Some of the patterns I have picked up on have absolutely blown my mind, so much so that I have become personally convinced that God ordered the 5 books and individual chapters of the Psalms intentionally, to be taken in groups of 5. This part is something that I can’t explain in a blog post, nor can I share the scores of personal connections and insights that God has given me as I’ve prayed through His Word in this way. It is something you will see coming to life as you do it.

I am 3 months in to praying the entire book of Psalms every month, and it has radically changed me, my prayer life, and our praying as a family. We are teaching our children how to do it, and it has enriched our family devotion times. It has even shaped our mealtime prayers and prayers throughout the day for “little” things with our children.

In short, when you begin to pray from Scripture solely, it shapes your prayers in every other part of the day and in life in general.

I am not against prayer journals. In fact, I have one. But the prayer journal isn’t my praying guide- my Bible is. So as I’m praying through Psalm 23, for example, God brings to mind things that are in my prayer journal, and people that I haven’t thought of or prayed for in awhile, or situations that are at hand, or family needs, etc. It is God Who shapes my prayers through His Word, bringing things to mind on different days in different Psalms. As I go through, I make notes so that next month when I circle back to a particular Psalm, I remember specific things. My Psalms are underlined and scribbled around, and I love the messy beauty that is there! It’s becoming a treasure trove.

Here’s an example of how praying the Psalms has changed me: Those of you who follow the Hope For Pastors’ Wives Facebook page know that a few months ago, I posted about my fresh constraint to pray for persecuted believers and ministry leaders around the world. Every Saturday morning I post a new prayer prompt or Scripture or article- something to do with the persecuted church. I am ashamed to admit that I have not spent much time in my life praying for the persecuted church or for the responsible governments. So what sparked this change in me?

Two things: First, I read two books authored by Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand (The Pastor’s Wife and Tortured For Christ), and my eyes were opened to the ongoing need for prayer support for those who suffer for simply believing Christ. Second, at the precise time that I was reading those books, the Psalms I happened to be praying through (23, 53, 83, etc.) corresponded amazingly with the theme of praying for persecuted believers and for their captors. God was active in my reading and in my praying of His Word, and He showed me something He wanted me to pray about from now on. I then recalled Paul’s admonition to “remember those who are in bonds, as being bound with them” and realized that it is a command that we pray for those imprisoned for Christ! Now that my eyes are opened, I see it everywhere in the Psalms as I pray. I have some Psalms marked so that each month I can remember to pray specifically as I come across those verses.

I promised that this method would be simple. And it is. Yet, it is still a daily discipline, and a delightful one at that!  I wake up each day excited about what I will find in the Psalms, and what God will lead me to pray for/about. I hesitate even to call this a “method” because it is alive and changing and growing and developing daily. It’s far from stale and boring! The Psalms keep drawing me back to them, which is God’s personal invitation to engage with Him through His Word.

Praying Scripture is the most freeing, simple, and living way to pray. God’s Word is alive! Do we believe this, truly? If so, we will let it shape our prayer lives. And in doing so, we will be amazed at the way God is present in our lives in connection with His Word!

XOXO,

A Kindred Spirit

 

 

 

 

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