The Psalms and Prayer

God has given us a guide in seeking Him for revival. Let's learn to use it.

Revive Me! (1)

The psalms can guide us in praying for revival.

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
Acts 4.24-26

The power of united prayer
I find this passage remarkably instructive concerning the work of prayer.

Imagine that you are in a room with thousands of other believers. You’ve just heard a report about a threat from the authorities to punish you and your friends for worshiping Jesus. The threat is real, because the authorities don’t care about Jesus, they’re not impressed with all the good done in His Name, and they are determined to silence anyone who persists in testifying about Him. And they have the wherewithal to make that threat a reality.

For the briefest moment, a stunned silence hangs over the congregation. Then, perhaps softly, someone begins to sing the Doxology: “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…”

What happens next? Everyone joins in and sings it right through to the end, boldly, joyously, and with tears! Then another voice begins, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” with the same result. Thousands and thousands of believers, defying danger, standing firm in Jesus, singing His praise and renewing their commitment to Him in the familiar words and melodies of beloved hymns.

This is precisely what happened in Acts 4.24-26. Except that, instead of the Doxology and “Amazing Grace,” these people sang Psalm 146.6 and the beginning of Psalm 2. As perhaps one person began the line, the congregation of thousands of brand new believers “raised their voice to God with one accord”, and renewed their faith and glorified their Savior by singing and praying the psalms. These psalms then guided their prayers for the Spirit of God and boldness, that the good works of Jesus, and joyful witness to His Name might increase, and not be stopped (Acts 4.27-30).

The result of this should not surprise us (Acts 4.31): “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

Why pray the psalms?
God has given us the psalms – the largest and most beautiful book in the Bible – to help us come before Him in prayer, that we may find mercy and grace to help in our times of need (Heb. 4.16). It’s a good thing He has, because, as Paul explained, we don’t know how to pray as we should (Rom. 8.26). The Spirit helps us in our prayer, and Jesus intercedes for us at all times (Heb. 7.25); but this does not relieve us of the duty of seeking the Lord in prayer.

And, since we are commanded to pray, but don’t know how to pray as we should; since God has given us an abundance of prayers, testimonies, and songs to use in coming before Him; and especially since, as we see in many places in Scripture, the saints of God turned to the psalms to comprise and direct their prayers, we can do no better in seeking the Lord than to learn to pray the Psalms.

And to pray them together with other believers. And especially, to pray them for God’s Spirit to embolden us, revive and renew us, and empower us to live as witnesses for Christ.

To be precise, for the purposes of this study, we want to begin using the psalms to seek the Lord in prayer together for revival in our Lord Jesus Christ.

That our world needs reviving is abundantly clear. That we in the Church need reviving may not be quite as clear, since we tend to think of ourselves as saved and doing OK – not perfect, mind you, but sure of our salvation and at peace with the Lord and one another. But the evidence of the psalms is that revival – revival that brings the goodness of God to light in the land of the living, so that multitudes are converted to Jesus, and good works abound to transform societies and cultures – such revival begins among the people of God, and spreads out from them, by the power of their witness, to bring renewal to churches and awakening to the lost world.

It may surprise us to see just how many of the psalms, as God’s prayer guides, lead us to seek the Lord for revival. And in this study, we’re going to consider many of those psalms, to discover the promise and hope for revival, to begin seeking it daily and earnestly in prayer, and to encourage and equip others to join us, until the Spirit once again fills and shakes us, and we are emboldened to live and speak as witnesses for Jesus Christ.

And we will begin with Psalm 119.

Praying the psalms together for revival
Psalm 119 is a much-loved psalm, dealing as it does with the place, purpose, and power of the Word of God in shaping our lives for Him.

It is true that nearly every verse of this great acrostic poem encourages us, in one form or another, to shelter in the Law and Word of God; teaches us to find our greatest delight in meeting the Lord there; and counsels us to submit to the power of the Word for righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. But laced throughout these 176 verses are cries for revival: “Revive me!” the psalmist cries, thus recognizing that even he, the human author of one of the greatest chapters in all of God’s holy Word, stood daily in need of the reviving grace and power of the Lord.

But what does that mean? What is revival? Why do we need it? How can we know when to seek it? How may we seek revival? And what should we expect as we begin to be revived?

We’ll look to Psalm 119 to outline answers to these and other questions about revival, before we turn, in the remainder of our study, to examine various other revival psalms, and begin praying them as our own heart cry to the Lord.

For Reflection
1. Have you ever tried praying the psalms? If you were to pray to begin praying the psalms, with which psalm would you begin? Why that psalm?

2. What do you understand by the term “revival”? Why would the writer of Psalm 119 cry out for revival over and over again?

3. We’re going to be learning how to pray the psalms that guide us in seeking revival. Are you willing to take up this challenge, and begin seeking the Lord to revive you?

Next Steps – Transformation. The “Next Steps” portion of each installment in this series will be devoted to help you seek the Lord for revival. In each installment, we will give you part of a psalm to pray, which you can use – and share with others – to seek the Lord for revival. We encourage you to meditate on the psalm, and to pray it throughout the day. For this installment, let’s pray Psalm 119.25:
My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

T. M. Moore

For a fuller discussion of why we need revival, and how to seek it, order a copy of our book, Restore Us! by clicking here. If you would like a 28-day, morning and evening challenge to seek the Lord for revival, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you a free PDF of our reader, Give Him No Rest.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore