Praying the Psalms

Author: Revd Dr Ian Stackhouse is Senior Pastor at Guildford Baptist Church (also known as Millmead). This article is an excerpt from his book The Day is Yours: Slow Spirituality in a Fast-Moving World and is reproduced with kind permission by the author and Paternoster Press (an imprint of Authentic Media).


Blessed is the man
Who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
or stand in the way of sinners,
or sit in the sear of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on his law he meditates day and night. [1]

Having considered the rhythm of a day, it occurs to me that something needs to be said at this point – by way of an excurses – about the Psalms and their place in a rhythm of prayer. This book is peppered with psalms because for me the Psalms form the basis of my daily prayer, and have done so for many years: ‘Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,’ says the Psalmist. [2] And for me, as for many others, this crying out in distress has more often than not been through the primal language of the Psalms themselves. We have other ways of praying, of course: the Lord’s prayer, praying in tongues, silent prayer, centring prayer, the Jesus prayer, Ignatian prayer. All of these are important and necessary. [3] I have written elsewhere about the importance of recovering the Lord’s prayer for Christian discipleship. But when it comes to daily prayer, the book of Psalms is invariably where a day begins for me, in the classical Benedictine five psalms as day, making a hundred and fifty psalms a month cycle. [4]

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