Do you pray differently on the happy days than you do on the stressful ones? Is your intonation with God varied? Do you sometimes wail in agony or pause in awe before Him? Maybe we don’t think about this enough, but if your prayers are always the same, in tone of voice, volume (or not), and fervency (or not), then something’s missing. After all, we do not speak with one another in the same tone all of the time. We would call that “monotone” and we do not enjoy being addressed, even in a lecture, in a monotone. I don’t want to cheapen the subject of prayer, but I think it helps to think of conversing with people. If you were at the mall with a friend you would hardly expect her to say, “Can you help me get this sweater off?” and “Look! That’s Taylor Swift at the cosmetics counter!” in exactly the same tone and volume. So why would we pray to God in monotones?
As a Digging Deep exercise this month, we took the time to categorize the prayer Psalms. I expect all of our lists look different. I know I had a hard time deciding where to peg several of the prayer Psalms easily . Many of them could have been dropped with perfect precision into three or more categories. But I could also hear David’s or Asaph’s voice trembling at times before His majesty or breathing heavily in frustration or weeping in sorrow.
The list below might be helpful in identifying my own needs on any given day. What if I was able to go and quickly find a psalm that most nearly matched my needs? What if I could cry out to God or lift my praises in the very words of the psalmist? On some days I might even want to write out my praise or petitions just as David did. We can grow in prayer when we go to the text and pray the Word!
Here’s my list. For those who are in the study let me add: One thing that helped me categorize was to remember to pick out the words of each Psalm that were indeed addressed from man to God. (In other words, I did not let the surrounding words influence my placement of the actual prayer.) I hope you can join Emily Anderson and me tonight at 7 CST here: http://new.livestream.com/whcoc/for-women for a live discussion about prayer. I need this structured study about a privilege that I far too often fail to adequately appreciate.
Prayers for Safety from or Victory over Enemies: Chapters 5,27,35,143
Prayers for Sanctification or Holiness: 43
Praise of God, Himself: 8,71,104, 145
Prayers about Security in God’s Care: 3,4,7,16,23,31,32,36,138
Praise for the Word: 19,119
Prayers about the Cross: 22
Prayers for Spiritual Help: 139
Prayers of Confession: 41,51
Prayers of Humility: 39,40,90
Prayers of Faith and Trust: 24,55,28
Prayers from a Heart of Despair, yet Hope: 25,42,57,102
Prayers for Help and Redemption: 44