Challenging Assumptions about Psalms

I’ve written a book about Psalms called Praying with the Psalmists: Open Your Heart in Prayer Using Patterns from Psalms.

I’m currently looking for a publisher, and one of the publishers I’m planning to query asks for a list of ways your book challenges assumptions. They want a dozen or more ways. I’ve come up with a disorganized list, and I thought it would be fun to post them while trying to make some kind of order. So enjoy!

Challenging Assumptions in Praying with the Psalmists:

  • You might think that Psalms are ancient literature and have no relevance to today, but human emotions are still the same centuries later, and we can learn from Psalms about opening our hearts in prayer.
  • If you think the God of the Old Testament is judgmental and angry, it will be good to immerse yourself in studying Psalms, where we see, again and again, that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in love.
  • If you think poetry has to rhyme, you might be surprised to learn about the Hebrew poetry of Psalms, where the form used is mainly parallelism — a form about the content of the lines rather than the sound of the lines, which has been translated beautifully into thousands of languages over time.
  • If you think that only gifted writers can write poetry, you may be surprised at how easy it is to copy the parallelism the psalmists used, and how it can slow down your thinking, make you pause, and help you open your heart.
  • You may have heard you should follow a formula when you pray such as ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), but the 150 Psalms in the Bible fall into ten different types, and each type has a different form or set of key concepts. There are many ways to pray, and studying Psalms can deepen your prayer life.
  • If you’ve been told you should pray specific requests so you will notice when God answers, you will find it interesting that the psalmists go into great detail about their problems, but make their requests to the Lord in generalities, trusting the Lord to figure out the specifics.
  • If you think you could never memorize a Psalm because you’re bad at memorizing, you need to know that no one is bad at memorizing Scripture. Memorizing a Psalm might take you longer than someone else, but you got to spend more time with the passage, so how is that bad?
  • If you think it’s not okay to question God, take a look at the angry and despairing questions in some of the Psalms.
  • You might think Psalms are all about joy and praise, but there are more Laments in the Bible than any other type of Psalm.
  • On the other hand, you might think Laments are depressing to read or write, so you may be surprised to learn that along with detailing their troubles, the psalmists who wrote Laments also include a section about trusting God and a section about how they’ll praise God when God answers.
  • If you’ve heard that Messianic Psalms all point to Jesus, you may think they are not something we could write today.  Yes, they foreshadow Jesus, but the psalmists who wrote them didn’t necessarily know they were prophesying. The Messianic Psalms make a good model of how we can pray about injustices in society or government.
  • If you think the book of Psalms is too long to go through them all or that some Psalms simply aren’t interesting, then you’ll enjoy my 12-week Reading Plan to cover all the Psalms and show how they all fit into ten types.

There!  What do you think?  The publisher who asks for this says it helps them determine how your book gives new views on old questions.  I’m not sure my statements are as “provocative” as what they’re looking for, but I do think they give you a feel for what I’m trying to do with it.  I’ll polish up some more before I send the query, but I think I’ll work with this list.


  1. As far as I am able this list of ways that your book will have provocative content about the Psalms is excellent. Not many lovers of God know about the poetry of the Psalms. My Bible Study group is now studying the Psalms and I wish your book was already published.

    Go for it!


  2. Thanks, Patti! I’ll let you know when it’s out! 🙂 Thanks for the vote of confidence!

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