Praying Psalm 103 - A Practical Example

Since beginning my exercise of praying the psalms, I've received several emails from people who ask, "How do you pray the psalms? When I read a psalm, I just read it. How do I turn that into a prayer?" Today I read Psalm 103, and it's such a perfect example of how to pray the psalms, I've decided to outline what I do every morning.

I seat myself in my prayer chair, which is a comfy chair in my living room, and open my Bible to the place I left off last time. Then I ask God to teach me from his Word today. And then I begin having a conversation with the Lord as I read.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (v1)

Lord, you know I love you, but I don't think I praise you with all my inmost being. You deserve so much more than I'm capable of giving! Today please teach me how to praise you fully and completely, holding nothing back. Because your love is like air to me; it's what keeps me going. Your unending mercy gives me hope for each day.

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - (v2)

Awesome Father, you have blessed me so far beyond what I deserve! As I go through today, open my eyes to see the benefits that are mine because you love me, the ones I take for granted most of the time.

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, (v3)

Lord, there are so many people who need to know that you've forgiven their sins. Today please reach out to XXX, who needs to know your awesome forgiveness. And Lord, there are so many people I want to lift to you who need your healing touch -- XXX, who started chemo yesterday, and XXX who has the flu, and my dear friend XXX who is so weary from fighting the terrible disease that has been plaguing her. Please, please, Lord, heal these diseases. Show each of these people how to receive from you, whether it be through doctors, or medication, or directly from your powerful touch.

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, (v4)

Lord, there are so many people who need to know you as Redeemer! Sometimes I feel like I'm on the edge of a pit with XXX XXXX XXXX (a specific situation), and the enemy of my soul is chipping away at the dirt beneath my feet, and it's starting to crumble. Thank you for redeeming me, for setting my feet on solid ground, for wrapping me in the warm blanket of your love, and for showing me compassion.

who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (v5)

Ah, Lord, I'm so tired from watching my grandson this week! There's a reason we have babies in our youth, isn't there? Please give me the strength of youth to care for this precious little one, and to still get everything done I need to do. And please also give XXX strength today, because she's so exhausted from fighting this terrible sickness. And please let my desires be pleasing to you. Thank you for the good things you bless me with.

See how that works? Some psalms are a little more difficult, but the Lord always points out at least a verse or two that seem to come alive in some situation in my life or the lives of those I love. When I finish praying a psalm, I feel like the Word of God has come alive for me (it IS the living Word!) and taken root in my life. If I do this first thing in the morning, my entire day seems to go better!

I'm sure this isn't the only way to pray the psalms, but it works for me. Give it a try!