There’s a bit too much alliteration in this book. And the word “program” is, quite possibly, used more times than there are pages in the book.
However, I did find some positive things in the book. There are a number of good reasons given as to why we should consider using the Psalms as a foundation for our prayers.
I love the Psalms, and have for at least two decades. Maybe that came out wrong. I have always loved the Psalms, but for at least two decades they have captivated my soul. I do believe that they are, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the “prayer book of the Bible.” And this is one place where T.M. Moore nails it.
I was able to, in a way, get around the over-usage of the word “program,” and glean some positive things. Moore begins by alerting us to the need for the idea of using Psalms as the basis for our prayer life. Most of us need some serious help when it comes to praying, and pretty much anything we need can be found in the lengthy book that can be found in the exact middle of most Bibles (unless there are several hundred pages of study helps in the back of yours, in which case you will likely find Revelation in the middle). I have long felt that that this is no accident.
For centuries, the Psalms were prayed, daily, by the Church. Some monks would even pray through them in a week, or perhaps even one day. Somewhere along the way, the church lost track of this. We got modern. We got techno. But we lost something precious. We forgot about praying the Psalms.
Moore specifically gives us his goal for praying the Psalms. He borrows from Athanasius who, in the fourth century said, “He who recites the psalms is uttering [them] in his own words, and each sings them as if they were written concerning him . . . [H]e handles them as if he is speaking about himself. And the things spoken are such that he lifts them up to God as himself acting and speaking them from himself.” Moore goes on to say, “Simply put, the goal of learning to pray the psalms is to make the psalms our own prayers.”
Moore lists several ways to pray the Psalms. You can pray them verbatim. There are many psalms with which this will work just fine. But then there are others that you might want to paraphrase as you pray. You can allow the reading of a psalm to inspire you to pray for other people and/or circumstances.
Of course, anyone familiar with Psalms knows that there are a few “problem” psalms. The most obvious of these is Psalm 137. You know the one. It begins “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.” Not so bad, at first, but it’s the ending that is troublesome. “O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!” I can’t very well pray THAT!! But I can read that psalm and allow it to inspire me to pray for persecuted and oppressed Christians in other parts of the world where scenarios such as that might just be reality.
There are benefits to praying the Psalms, including a deeper sense of the presences of God, a more comprehensive prayer life (Psalms runs the gamut of the emotional state of humanity), greater consistency in prayer, more freedom in prayer, and an enhanced prayer life.
Don’t be fooled, though. Prayer is hard work. And our enemy definitely doesn’t want us to be praying. So if you plan to make use of this wonderful tool, be prepared for obstacles to rise up in your path.
I have already begun praying Psalms, but am still working on incorporating them more into my daily prayer life. Moore offers some sample schedules at the end of the book, but, frankly, I found the monthly one to be a bit confusing. I do know that if I read five psalms a day, I can read through all of them in a month. So that’s where I’m starting. I also believe that, based on a previous book that I read (The Psalter Reclaimed, by Gordon J. Wenham), that they are arranged the way they are for a purpose, and for that reason, will be reading them in sequence.
I would recommend this book for people who are interested in using Psalms as a foundation for their prayer lives. Hopefully, you can get around the many appearances of that word, “program.”