Psalms – The language of the heart
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150:6
While it is entirely valid to pray under our breath in our mind and heart, and equally valid to 'hear' or sense God's 'still, quiet voice' in our inner-man, we express ourselves best through our breath. Using words of meaning, sighs of sorrow, cries of heartache, joyful laughter, we communicate thoughts, beliefs, thanks, needs, and feelings.
Using words, the Psalms comprise a timeless conversation between God and man. One in which the future is revealed and history is given context. Through these songs, prayers, and poems, we are taught life lessons, obedience, and sound doctrine. By example and instruction, we learn how to conquer passions and gain dominion over our soul.
There is something about a song lyric or a story that triggers our mind to store it in an accessible place. Somewhere it can be quickly found when needed. An oldie that you haven't heard for years can come on the radio, or an old hymn is turned to in church that you haven't sung since you were a kid, and you remember every word, sing along with every note as if you sing it every day. It was stored in your mind and you didn't even realize it.
This is because songs and stories bypass our mental defense system where our opinions are protected. We all have this brick wall in the front of our mind that somehow vets all the information that comes in, quickly scans it for anything that disagrees with what I already believe, and, finding any yellow flags, patently rejects the content.
Songs and stories slip through these bars and, as a result, truth can subversively sneak into our hearts undetected, working to change and heal us from the inside out. Jesus always taught with stories for this very reason. Stories are how He conveyed truth to the uninterested.
This is why the Psalms are the prayer book and a songbook for ancient Israel and for the church. These words of truth when prayed and sung will slip through the bars of limited understanding, opinions, and bias, and settle in the mind where they are stored. You might not be able to find them when you want them, but they'll be there when you need them.
This miracle will only happen if you read the Psalms, of course. In some monasteries, the Psalms are read in their entirety every week. Now that would be a way to learn them, right? But even a few verses or one Psalm per day would be a good start. As you read and sing them over and over they will become like songs in your soul. Some more than others will begin to comfort you and give you peace within the storms of life and you will go to them again and again.
Through the Psalms, Jesus, the Incarnate Word, teaches you how to pray, how to listen, how to live, love and forgive. His Word will be rooted deep in your soul, lead you to a virtuous life, and with your every breath, express the language of the heart.
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord." Psalm 150:6