So many of us have or have had to struggle over prayer. Even with an understanding of Matthew 6, and Bibical example of long and short prayers, the right attitude as we pray, the proper place to prayer (other than a private place as Christ discribed), and even the proper position - should one stay on the knees, or stand and look upward, or even prostrate on the floor or ground - even with all this, prayer to many is a well know mystery.

A dear sister in Christ more than once spoke of her prayer life as conversations in the middle of a restless night, as she spoke to Jesus personally, honestly, openly. In our many discussions, she often expressed that she could not live without the Bible, and was dismayed that any Christian thought they could. She had read the Bible front to back more times than she could remember. Just as amazing to her was the thought of how anyone could have difficulty praying. For her, it came almost as involuntary and natural as breathing. Her breathing physically ceased a month ago. But her example and understanding of prayer and the Bible will be with me as long as I live. As with many of God's children, much time was spent reading the Psalms. The book of Psalms has be described as the most read book in the Bible, and not without good reason.

While thinking of her long life as she had related it to me, I have wondered why prayer seemed so easy and even natural for her, when for many if not most, its a difficult - and often a struggle. Then it occurred to me: could there be a vital connection in how she used and read the Psalms?

The book of Psalms of course, are many things to many different people. Within the Psalms there is praise, worship, words that cover the entire emotional spectrum, from joy, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, and more. They are songs, prayers, hymns of worship and praise the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else. Like the Book of Ecclesiastes, but entirely different in focus, the Psalms cover all that can be experienced in life. How many times and on how many different occasions has Psalm 23 been quoted, read, and -prayed?

Jesus warned us of course, concerning repetitious prayers with redundant words, which in the process can become meaningless, and how those who do such mistakenly believe that God is swayed by the weight of the number of words. But many of the Psalms are prayers, set to music, and sung over and over and over again - even as we do with many types of spiritual songs today (Colossians 3:16). Repeating Psalm 23 or any other Psalms or scripture does not come with the meaning of Jesus' warning. And herein lies, I believe, an open secret to prayer, especially for those of who have had difficulties with our prayer life.

Pray the Psalms.

By this I mean literally. Word for word, verse for verse. Where it is logical, insert your name, or the pronoun "I", or "my", or "me" or if the logic of the Psalm permits, substitute another name - perhaps someone you are interceding for who is ill, or having other troubles. In other words, apply the principle and even the tension and urgency that the Holy Spirit will lead you to experience, in a similar way that the writer of the Psalm was experiencing. Of course, the times and circumstances are different, but the spiritual impact of what you are reading is read by the Holy Spirit Who knows your mind and heart, even as He knew the heart of the original writer.

Also, pray the Psalms out loud.

Do not hesitate to let your heart speak in your tone of voice as you identify with circumstances and emotions of the writer of the Psalm as you apply it to your own heart. No need to do this all the time, but at least some of the time, as you are led by the Holy Spirit. I think you will be amazed how much more you can enter into the heart of the writer, and how much the Spirit will carry the inexpressible words, concerns, and cares you are dealing with before the throne of grace for you. Even ask the Holy Spirit to accept the words of the Psalmist as you own words and heart. As this writer has practiced this, I think I understand much better the depth of my dear sister in Christ, and her closeness to Him.

Pray the Psalms - and come to know God in a way you may have never known before, even as the Psalmist knew Him, and had Him respond with comfort and help.

"Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." - Romans 8:26-27