Lynn Anderson introduced me years ago to the value of praying through the Psalms. In his recent book They Smell Like Sheep — Volume 2, he has one entire chapter on the value of praying the Psalms for Christians. He gives some very practical suggestions for doing this.
This is such a good practice. I have found praying the Psalms to be particularly helpful. During one period of time, I read aloud five Psalms per day, praying through them as I read. During another time period, I highlighted in yellow every characteristic or description of God that I found in the Psalms and prayed concerning these. The ways to approach this are probably endless.
Lynn Anderson lists the following as a few benefits of praying the Psalms:
- Helps us speak the unspeakable — when we have no words for our feelings.
- Helps us explore the uncomfortable — when we don’t want to go to those painful places we need to go.
- Helps keep our prayer lists fresh — by constantly changing the subject.
- Gives strength in weakness — by invoking God’s power.
- Takes prayer beyond mere begging — into praise, adoration, and thankfulness.
- Gets us out of ourselves — by putting us in touch with the needs and feelings of those around us.
- Gives us a place to belong — in the long line with three thousand years of God’s people.
- Helps us thoughtfully process our lives — by probing into our hearts and raising questions about our motives.
- Gives us resources for ministry — when the Psalms become tools as we read them into the needs of others.
- Frees us from the myth of certainty — as they lead us into mystery and paradox and make us comfortable with ambiguity.
- Becomes "leaven" in the flock — as sheep begin to pray like their shepherds.
- Draws us into encounter with God — again and again.
(Lynn Anderson, They Smell Like Sheep — Volume 2, pp. 45-46)