Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

How to Apply a Psalm to Your Life

How to Apply a Psalm to Your Life

The words of old are still applicable for us today. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). If we say that His Word can’t still speak to us today, we are saying that God Himself can no longer speak to us. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m still in need of God to be my Shepherd, to lead me beside quiet waters, to restore my soul, to guide me in paths of righteousness. 

God has given us the book of Psalms to show us the humanity of the Psalmist and to remind us of where our hope must be placed. The Psalms remind us that even David, a man after God’s own heart, had failures and was cleansed, worshiped freely, had many times where he didn’t know what to do, and proclaimed his trust in His God despite the scary circumstances around him. 

1. Pray the Psalm. 

“If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ. We must ask how we can understand the Psalms as God’s Word, and then we shall be able to pray them. It does not depend, therefore, on whether the Psalms express adequately that which we feel at a given moment in our heart. If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. If we were dependent entirely on ourselves, we would probably pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. But God wants it otherwise. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.

I think there is great power in learning how a Psalm can apply to our own lives. However, don’t miss the point of this quote from a hero of our faith. The Psalms are God’s Word. If we believe God’s Word to be the very words of the God of the universe, we will believe that they are words worth praying. Words of value. Words of holiness. Words straight from God Himself. 

Often, when I’m overwhelmed with a trial or struggle, my own words fall short. I often don’t even know what to say when I go to God in prayer. I know I need to pray. I may even desperately want to pray. But the words don’t come. This is where God’s Word comes in. I know that when I pray God’s Word I am praying in alignment with His will. 

“Lord, You are my Shepherd, I have all I need in You.” (Psalm 23:1)

“You, Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3)

“I will lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from You, God.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

2. Write the Psalm.

Take a moment and think about the things you write down throughout your day. Now, you may be more digital than I am, but I still WRITE in an actual paper planner, I write down my grocery list, notes to my kids, in my prayer journal… you get the idea.

But why do we write things down? 

We write things down that we want to remember. We write down the important stuff. We make lists of things that need to be done. 

Why wouldn’t we want to write down the most important Words there are?

His Word is life to us — write it down!

His Word is a treasure — treat it as such!

His Word is comfort to us — allow Him to comfort you as you write.

His Word is conviction to us through His Holy Spirit — soften your heart as you write. 

Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life as you write and pray His Word. I believe that as we open our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit in us, by reading, writing and meditating on the Word of God, He fills us. He speaks to us through His Word. He comforts. He upholds. He convicts. He cleanses.

Don’t make God’s Word another item on your to-do list. Make it all about God. In humility, tell Him you have nothing to offer. Open your Bible. Read. Pray. He will speak and He will minister. This is about God doing His work not about us attempting a work that only God can do. 

3. Claim the promises. 

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

I have heard the beginning of that passage many times over the course of my life. But, that next phrase, “He has granted to us His precious and very great promises…” is not a portion I hear very often. 

God has given us so many promises. Where do we find His promises? In His Word. We see stories of His faithfulness. We see glimpses of God meeting people in the belly of whales. We see a rainbow in the sky to proclaim His covenant with us. 

And we read in the Psalms that God is our Shepherd. Cling to your Shepherd. Let Him lead and guide you in paths of righteousness for His Name’s Sake. Let Him restore your soul. 


Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures. 

Publication date: October 10, 2016