This is part 3 of a series on praying through the Bible. Be sure to check out the others at the bottom of the post. If you’ve been following along, this one will look a little different in structure. Mostly because the psalms are all prayers and praises to God. Any of them can be used as a prayer. For this reason, I have put the ones that I pray the most into categories and put key verses and prayer prompts with them. I hope you find it useful and inspiring.
Why Pray the Psalms?
The psalms are Spirit-inspired words straight from the heart of human beings. We can find so much to relate to as we read about those who are worried, anxious, troubled, scared, hurt, full of joy, thankful, and in awe of God.
Sometimes as Paul says in Romans 8:26 NIV, we just don’t know what to pray: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
The psalms can help us express our hearts and give us peace and comfort in knowing that just as God worked it out for the saints before us, He is working it out for us.
Prayers to Pray in the Psalms
There are 150 Psalms so there is no way that we could list them all here. I have attempted to capture a wide range that might help us to pray in different situations.
Under each psalm you will find a key verse and some prayer prompts. I encourage you to reach the psalm in its entirety on its own and write our your own prayers in a prayer journal. I pray you find these comforting, encouraging, and faith growing.
Psalms of Praise
The psalms are full of praise for God. Even the psalms that start out with complaint or lament typically end in praise. You can’t truly know the Creator and not praise Him for who He is. I hope these psalms inspire your heart felt adoration of our Lord.
As for God, his way is perfect:Psalm 18:30-31 NIV
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
- God, Your ways are perfect and Your word is truth.
- Lord, I praise You. There is none like you. You are a Rock and Refuge to me!
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;Psalm 30: 4-5 NIV
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
- I will sing your praise Lord because you are holy and faithful.
- I rejoice, my God, because your favor is mine for a lifetime!
Praise our God, all peoples,Psalm 66:8-9 NIV
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
- God, let the sound of my praise be heard and cause others to praise You, because You are worthy.
- Lord, you have preserved my life and kept me from harm, God I praise You for being my Protector!
Psalms of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is different from praise because it’s an expression of our gratitude for what God has done for us. These psalms beautifully help a thankful heart show God how grateful we are to Him.
Enter his gates with thanksgivingPsalm 100:4-5 NIV
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
- I enter Your presence with thanksgiving, Lord, for all you have done for me. (Count your blessings.)
- Thank you God for your goodness, enduring love, and faithfulness to me and my family.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing lovePsalm 107:8-9 NIV
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
- Thank you, Lord, for your unfailing love. No matter what I’ve done, you never stop loving or caring.
- God, I am so grateful for the wonderful deeds you have done for me and also for the every day needs you provide.
Come, let us bow down in worship,Psalm 95:6-7 NIV
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
- God, my gratitude leads me to bow down and worship You.
- Thank you for guiding me with You kind and caring hand. Keep me from going astray.
Psalms of Repentance
Repentance of sins before the Lord is one of the crucial teachings of the Bible. These psalms are a collection of 7 know as the penitential psalms, or expressions of confession. (See also, Psalm 6, 38, 102, and 143.) You will find that the author acknowledges their sin before the Lord and admits their dependance on God for mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.
Then I acknowledged my sin to youPsalm 32:5 NIV
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
- Thank you Lord that when I cry out to you in humble repentance that you forgive me.
- Lord, I confess that I am wasting away inside due to my sin, please forgive me for ______________ and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,Psalm 51:10-12 NIV
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
- God, create in me a clean heart and restore to me the joy of your salvation.
- Forgive me for my sins that grieve the Holy Spirit or cast me from Your holy presence.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,Psalm 130:1-4 NIV
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
- Lord, hear my plea for mercy. I realize my sin and confess it to you now.
- Lord, thank you that you do not keep a record of sin and are full of forgiveness.
Psalms to Pray When You Feel Anxious or Worried
These psalms remind us that there are so many humans past and present that are anxious and worried. But, they also stand to remind us that God is with us and He cares for us. He is working it all out for our good and His glory. He will use it to grow our faith if we just hold on.
Whether you are upset over current circumstances, the future, suffering health issues, or worried over a loved one, these psalms will encourage and aid you in expressing your feelings to God. See also Psalm 16, 42 and 77.
Even though I walkPsalm 23:4 NIV
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
- I am walking through a dark valley, Lord, feeling overwhelmed, please help me to feel Your presence and peace.
- God, I will fear no evil because you are with me. Provide me the comfort I need to have faith to believe Your promises.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;Psalm 34: 6-7 NIV
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
- Hear my call, God, and save me from my troubles. I need You.
- Lord, encamp around me and deliver me from my anxious thoughts and worries.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—Psalm 121: 7-8 NIV
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
- Lord, keep me from all harm and remind me that You watch over my life. Help me to trust!
- Lord, thank you for promising to guide and keep my life. Cast anxious thoughts aside as I know You are with me.
Psalms to Pray When You Feel Attacked
The Bible promises that in this world we will have trouble and suffering (John 16:33). It also says we have a very real enemy in Satan (1 Peter 5:8). So, chances are there are often times that we feel attacked whether through others, Satan, or circumstances. These psalms remind us that God is for us and will defend us!
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,Psalm 31:7-8 NIV
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
- God, thank you that You see, know, and understand my affliction. I rejoice in Your love for me.
- God, keep me safe from the enemy
As for me, I call to God,Psalm 55:16-18 NIV
and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
- Lord, hear my voice and save me. Rescue me unharmed and keep my from sinning in my distress.
- Lord, many oppose me and I feel attacked. Please comfort me and give me peace in your salvation.
But I pray to you, Lord,Psalm 69:14-16 NIV
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.
Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.
- Lord, because of Your great love and favor, rescue me from this overwhelming flood that engulfs me.
- God, don’t let me go to a dark pit, keep me relying on Your coming salvation and hope in a peaceful resolution.