THE WORD, THE SPIRIT, AND PRAYER
Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.Ephesians 5:18–19
I love what Paul taught us about staying filled with the Spirit by singing scripture. Prayer can become quite pleasurable when we follow the apostle’s instructions, “Be continually filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms…”. Actually, praying or singing Psalms can never be exhausted. In the Psalms we find worship, petition, intercession, and prayers of commitment and intercession. Believers have been praying and singing the Psalms for thousands of years. Here are some thoughts from Martin Luther who used the Psalms in his daily times with the LORD.
“Consider what the most respected church fathers, especially Athanasius and Augustine, taught about using psalms. They said we should adapt and adjust our minds so that we are in tune with the psalms. We must sing the psalms with the help of the Holy Spirit. They are like a school for the attitudes of the heart.
For example, when you read in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” you must actually reject the advice that wicked people give you. When you read, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD,” you shouldn’t take it easy and pat yourself on the back as if you are a person who already loves the Lord’s teachings. For as long as you live, you will need to think of yourself as a person who desperately needs to love God’s teachings even more.
Don’t think that you are being asked to do the impossible. All you need to do is try, and I know you will be glad you did. First, practice on one psalm or even one verse of a psalm. You will be successful as soon as you have learned how to make just one verse come alive and live in your heart—even if it takes a day or a whole week. However, after you begin, everything else will follow naturally, and you will find a rich treasure of insight and love. Just be careful you e don’t let weariness and discouragement prevent you from getting started.”
I love Luther’s paraphrase of the teaching of Augustine and Athanasius, “we should adapt and adjust our minds so that we are in tune with the psalms”. This is exactly what Paul taught, to adjust our minds by praying the Psalms. Paul said this would result in being filled with the Spirit.
So let’s think for a moment about the teaching of Paul and the church fathers. Actually what they taught us was what happens when we combine the word of God to our prayers in song. This powerful threefold cord results in incredible, Holy Spirit outpouring. If you feel a little dry, take out the Psalms and begin to sing them (any melody will do). If you don’t know where to start, some of my favorites are Psalms 63; 16; 110; and 45. Enjoy!!!