Another Way to Benefit from Psalm 119 in Prayer

As promised, I want to share another way to use Psalm 119 as a guide in prayer and daily devotions:

The author of Psalm 119 set down a format for us. I have used this format for many years.  Did you notice in your Bible that this Psalm is divided into 22 sections of eight (8) verses? Did you notice that each section begins with a letter in the Hebrew Alphabet? The Psalmist used the alphabet as an acrostic to help people to learn and remember the poems and prayers.  For example, verses 1-8 begin with aleph; the next eight with bet, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the pattern is continued through verses 169–176, with taw, the 22nd letter, and last letter, of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus, we have 22 sections /groups of eight verses.  All of them are prayers.

Each group of 8 verses has a theme, which is helpful because it enlarges the painting of the view of God. The theme can also help us see our need and our reliance upon God. The Word Biblical Commentary does a good job of summarizing each section. I will list each section and their theme in a coming blog post. I’d recommend writing the theme next to the Hebrew letter of each section in your Bible. It will help your mind focus in a direction of prayer for that day; that day of the month.

If you have a desire to commune with the Father but you’re struggling with what to do or how to stay focused and disciplined …

Here’s what to do:

Use an ink pen to number each of the 22 sections. Then, when you get alone to pray, open your Bible to Psalm 119 and look for the corresponding day of the month. You’ll have eight verses to read, meditate upon, and lead you in prayer. These sections glorify your God, remind you of your dependence upon Him, lead in you repentance, prompt to praise Him, stir towards good works, and much more.

For me, one of the most important things that this practice does is: get my mind focused on HIM!

I don’t know about you but my mind wanders, terribly. My quiet time is early in the morning and the first obstacle is getting the brain cranked up and functioning. A second thing it does is help me to be focused on the Lord. It helps me to keep my thoughts towards the things of His kingdom. This is not an easy discipline. Having a daily routine that begins in the scriptures helps me, more than that, it disciplines me.

I write in my two books the importance of marriage between scripture and prayer. This practice unites them. You can use this practice with any book or chapter in the Bible, and I encourage you to do that. I will be continuing this style of blog posting and I hope that it inspires prayer while teaching sound theology.

Let the scriptures help instigate prayer. Let it give you words to pray when you don’t know what to pray. Let His word help you to express your thoughts, feelings, burdens, joys, sorrows, fears, and confessions of faith. It is already laid out for you. The Spirit of God is inviting you to learn and commune with our Living, Loving, Saving God through His own word. He is showing us His will and invites us to bring it to Him in prayer. How incredibly awesome is that!

Psalm 119:18 (NKJV) — 18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.

Praying Thru Psalm 119 – The Follow-Up

Those who have been following my blog this calendar year, we’ve used Psalm 119 as a guide for daily prayer. The daily scriptures have led by both example and encouragement with how to use God’s word to prepare, point, and aid in daily prayer.

I’ve included commentary from various giants of the faith, including my favorites (it was obvious, wasn’t it)–Charles H. Spurgeon and the puritan pastor—Thomas Manton, as well as John Calvin, William Cowper, and other faithful men of prayer and scripture. The objective was to grow while learning to pray, while communing with the Triune God. We can stand on the shoulders of these giants of the faith and gaze out towards the celestial home, knowing that He who has called us, calls us, and He also keeps us.

Who doesn’t need help with prayer and the disciple of prayer time?  I mean, really, who??

The child of God has a natural desire to pray, but too often we don’t know what to say or do when we get alone before our Lord. The scriptures are the perfect tutor. Is there any purer source to lead and teach us how to pray? The word which is given by the Spirit of God can breathe life into our souls while putting truth on our lips. The scriptures can humble us while inspiring us because they remind us of the Gospel of the Savior as well as the character and will of our God.

My next post will share another way to use Psalm 119 as a guide in daily prayer and devotions. It is a secondary way that has been my aid for many years. If you’re as human as I am, and I bettcha you are, finding something to help guide and inspire during your devotional time is … is … priceless. “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there is …”  Using Psalm 119 for your prayer time is priceless.

It is like the celestial city which lieth four-square, and the height and the breadth of it are equal. Many superficial readers have imagined that it harps upon one string, and abounds in pious repetitions and redundancies; but this arises from the shallowness of the reader’s own mind: those who have studied this divine hymn, and carefully noted each line of it, are amazed at the variety and profundity of the thought. Using only a few words, the writer has produced permutations and combinations of meaning which display his holy familiarity with his subject, and the sanctified ingenuity of his mind. He never repeats himself; for if the same sentiment recurs it is placed in a fresh connection, and so exhibits another interesting shade of meaning. The more one studies it the fresher it becomes. As those who drink the Nile water like it better every time they take a draught, so does this Psalm become the more full and fascinating the oftener you turn to it. It contains no idle word; the grapes of this cluster are almost to bursting full with the new wine of the kingdom. The more you look into this mirror of a gracious heart the more you will see in it. Placid on the surface as the sea of glass before the eternal throne, it yet contains within its depths an ocean of fire, and those who devoutly gaze into it shall not only see the brightness, but feel the glow of the sacred flame. It is loaded with holy sense, and is as weighty as it is bulky. Again and again have we cried while studying it, “Oh the depths!” Yet these depths are hidden beneath an apparent simplicity, as Augustine has well and wisely said, and this makes the exposition all the more difficult. Its obscurity is hidden beneath a veil of light, and hence only those discover it who are in thorough earnest, not only to look on the word, but, like the angels, to look into it. (Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 130). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)

Psalm 119:176

Vs. 176 — I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.

Charles H. Spurgeon:

This is the finale, the conclusion of the whole matter: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep”—often, wilfully, wantonly, and even hopelessly, but for thine interposing grace. In times gone by, before I was afflicted, and before thou hadst fully taught me thy statutes, “I went astray” from the practical precepts, from the instructive doctrines, and from the heavenly experiences which thou hadst set before me. I lost my road, and I lost myself. Even now I am apt to wander, and, in fact, have roamed already; therefore, Lord, restore me. “Seek thy servant.” He was not like a dog, that somehow or other can find its way back; but he was like a lost sheep, which goes further and further away from home; yet still he was a sheep, and the Lord’s sheep, his property, and precious in his sight, and therefore he hoped to be sought in order to be restored. However far he might have wandered he was still not only a sheep, but God’s “servant,” and therefore he desired to be in his Master’s house again, and once more honoured with commissions for his Lord. Had he been only a lost sheep he would not have prayed to be sought; but being also a “servant” he had the power to pray. He cries, “Seek thy servant,” and he hopes to be not only sought, but forgiven, accepted, and taken into work again by his gracious Master.

Notice this confession; many times in the Psalm David has defended his own innocence against foul-mouthed accusers, but when he comes into the presence of the Lord his God he is ready enough to confess his transgressions. He here sums up, not only his past, but even his present life, under the image of a sheep which has broken from its pasture, forsaken the flock, left the shepherd, and brought itself into the wild wilderness, where it has become as a lost thing. The sheep bleats, and David prays, “Seek thy servant.” His argument is a forcible one,—“for I do not forget thy commandments.” I know the right, I approve and admire the right, what is more, I love the right, and long for it. I cannot be satisfied to continue in sin, I must be restored to the ways of righteousness. I have a homesickness after my God, I pine after the ways of peace; I do not and I cannot forget thy commandments, nor cease to know that I am always happiest and safest when I scrupulously obey them, and find all my joy in doing so. Now, if the grace of God enables us to maintain in our hearts the loving memory of God’s commandments it will surely yet restore us to practical holiness. That man cannot be utterly lost whose heart is still with God. If he be gone astray in many respects, yet still, if he be true in his soul’s inmost desires, he will be found again, and fully restored. Yet let the reader remember the first verse of the Psalm while he reads the last: the major blessedness lies not in being restored from wandering, but in being upheld in a blameless way even to the end. Be it ours to keep the crown of the causeway, never leaving the King’s highway for By-path Meadow, or any other flowery path of sin. May the Lord uphold us even to the end. Yet even then we shall not be able to boast with the Pharisee, but shall still pray with the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner;” and with the Psalmist, “Seek thy servant.” (Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 435). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)


I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments. I confess that I am prone to wander, and too often my mind is distracted away from You. I find myself off the path of righteousness and giving in to my sin nature. But You, as the perfect Shepherd, keep me near to Thee. Your grace is abundant and sufficient in every situation and for every day. By the Spirit of Truth do not let Your words or Your testimonies depart from my heart. I am wholly dependent upon You. Be my shepherd; be my God. Amen.


Psalm 119:175

Vs. 175 — Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; And let Your judgments help me.

Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Let my soul live.” Fill it full of life, preserve it from wandering into the ways of death, give it to enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, let it live to the fulness of life, to the utmost possibilities of its new-created being. “And it shall praise thee.” It shall praise thee for life, for new life, for thou art the Lord and Giver of Life. The more it shall live, the more it shall praise, and when it shall live in perfection it shall praise thee in perfection. Spiritual life is prayer and praise. “And let thy judgments help me.” While I read the record of what thou hast done, in terror or in love, let me be quickened and developed. While I see thy hand actually at work upon me, and upon others, chastening sin, and smiling upon righteousness, let me be helped both to live aright and to praise thee. Let all thy deeds in providence instruct me, and aid me in the struggle to overcome sin and to practise holiness. This is the second time he has asked for help in this portion; he was always in need of it, and so are we. (Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, p. 435). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)

George Whitefield:

Through all eternity to Thee
A grateful song I’ll raise;
But O! eternity’s too short
to utter all Thy praise.


Let my soul live, and it shall praise You; and let Your judgments help me. If you give me breath to live, I will praise You, for Your lovingkindness is better than life. Adding to my request, Father, is that Your Spirit quicken this soul to sweet praise so that my offering is not of my own making, but of Thee.

Psalm 119:174

Vs. 174 — I long for Your salvation, O Lord, And Your law is my delight.

Bishop Horne:

Restore us, oh Lord Jesus, by Thy grace to righteousness, and by Thy power to glory! (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moll, C. B., Briggs, C. A., Forsyth, J., Hammond, J. B., … Conant, T. J. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms (p. 603). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Charles H. Spurgeon:

“I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD.” He speaks like old Jacob on his deathbed; indeed, all saints, both in prayer and in death, appear as one, in word, and deed, and mind. He knew God’s salvation, and yet he longed for it; that is to say, he had experienced a share of it, and he was therefore led to expect something yet higher and more complete. There is a salvation yet to come, when we shall be clean delivered from the body of this death, set free from all the turmoil and trouble of this mortal life, raised above the temptations and assaults of Satan, and brought near unto our God, to be like him and with him for ever and ever. (Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 111-119 (Vol. 5, pp. 434–435). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)


You, O’ God, have wrought Your salvation in me by the Perfect One–Jesus Christ. He is my righteousness. I stand clothed in His goodness and pureness alone. I also long for the completeness of this salvation, that day when I step from this shadowland into presence of the holy throne. Then, I will be transformed from this corruptible to the incorruptible; from the mortal to the immortal and breath in the gloriousness of the Perfect One. From grace to glory! I cannot say that I am patiently waiting, because I am not. I wait with eagerness and anticipation for the day that I see Him face-to-face. I am drawn to Him and I cannot escape such love that refuses to let me go. Blessed is that day, and it’s coming. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.