Improving Your Prayer Life through a Study of the Psalter
Randall C. Bailey
How should we pray? Do we believe God answers our prayers? Is it acceptable to complain to God? Should we bargain with him to receive the response we desire? Why do we praise God? Does our praise make him any more "God"? John Calvin argued basically that the purpose of prayer is to realign the petitioner's feelings and beliefs with God's. Many today seem to have adopted this idea. One says, "Why pray at all. God knows everything so my prayers cannot change his mind. I must pray to discover God's will for my life. I must realign my will with God's will for my life." In contrast, the psalmists assumed a reciprocal process. They believed they could bring pressures on God to answer their requests. They would bargain with God and promise him certain things if he would only grant their petitions. Indeed, this was part of the process. They would obligate themselves to praise God if he would grant their desires. Such bargaining was the foundation of their prayers. Comparisons of Calvin's views with the psalmists' allows the reader to investigate the nature of his or her prayer life and make improvements where necessary.