Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Psalms as the “prayer book par excellence,” as he spoke at his weekly general audience on June 22.
The 150 Psalms “express all human experience,” the Pope told the 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday audience. Nevertheless, he continued, their diverse content can be reduced to two basic categories: petition (and/or lamentation) and praise. These two categories, he said, “intertwine and fuse together in a single song which celebrates the eternal grace of the Lord as He bows down to our frailty.”
With those to categories, the Pope said, the Book of Psalms “teach us to pray.” Those who prayerfully recite the Psalms “speak to God with the words of God, addressing Him with the words He Himself taught us.” He pointed out that Jesus used the Psalms in his own prayers.
The Psalms frequently offer some prefiguration of the Gospel story, the Pope observed; and they are cited often in the New Testament. Most of the Psalms are attributed to King David, who prefigured the Messiah. Pope Benedict said: “In Jesus Christ and in his paschal mystery the Psalms find their deepest meaning and prophetic fulfillment.”
I do not know many who would argue against referring to the Psalms as a sort of “Cliff’s Notes” of our salvation history. Yet, I know not one Protestant who “prays” the Psalms claiming that doing so is tantamount to repetitious, vain prayer. Hogwash!
As the Pope rightly points out, the Psalms “express all human experience” and provides for us prayers and insight for all moments of our lives. There are prayers of deliverance such as Psalm 91, which can be used in direct combat with the Enemy (obviously this does not replace the need for an exorcist in the case of possession or other more serious demonic manifestations), Psalms of healing and of praise and of prophecy.
The Book of Psalms is the ultimate prayerbook for Christians!