October 3, 2011

Did Jesus read poems, quote poetry, and pray printed prayers?

Jesus prayed spontaneously as shown in the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father and in the High Priestly Prayer in Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John. However, as a regular worshipper in the synagogue and one who often stood up to read aloud “as was His custom” (Luke 4:16), Jesus undoubtedly read the printed prayers and poems scrolled into the book of Psalms.

Then and now, Jesus and other Jewish people drew from Psalms for many reasons. Then and now, Christians rely on Psalms, too, as shown in Acts 1:20, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and many other Bible verses. Why? Christians and Jews love the book of Psalms as:

Written prayers


Anthology of poetry

Source of godly wisdom

Examples of heartfelt prayer

Outlet for genuine emotion

Devotion and meditation

Inspired writings

Prophetic word

Apparently Jesus also memorized at least some of the psalms because, from the cross, He quoted Psalm 22 not only to express the agony He felt but to encourage His followers who knew, as Jesus did, how the psalm ends. In addition, this fulfilled the word of prophecy recorded in that poem and printed prayer.

What does this have to do with us today as Christian writers, editors, and poets? Hopefully, a lot! For example:

Written prayers are preserved prayers, private prayers, public prayers, proven prayers, and prayers that immediately connect us with one another and with God. Whenever and wherever you pray a psalm or other Bible prayer, countless prayer partners stand with you in all times and places.

Psalms provide long-loved examples of beautifully written songs, poems, instructional teachings, and wisdom writings. Studying and reading aloud each psalm can help us to attune our ear and improve the poetic quality of our writing in all genres.

Psalms give us insight into the spiritual life and also the life of faith realistically lived and written in all genres.

Psalms draw us closer to God, not only with praise and thanksgiving but, more often, with laments! Thankfully, those laments typically end on an encouraging word of faith, helping us to cry out with true feelings and draw on faith that has been tested as we, too, write prayers, poems, and writings in all genres.

Psalms remind us of the ongoing timeliness of the Bible and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s Word, written into our lives as Christian poets, editors, and writers in all genres, all places, and all times.

If you would like to discover prayers in the Bible that enliven your faith and guide your prayers and writings today, follow the Bible Prayers blog. May blessings abound on all who enter that space.

© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

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