Did Jesus read poems, quote poetry, and pray printed prayers?

Jesus prayed spontaneously as shown in the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father and in the High Priestly Prayer in Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John. However, as a regular worshipper in the synagogue and one who often stood up to read aloud “as was His custom” (Luke 4:16), Jesus undoubtedly read the printed prayers and poems scrolled into the book of Psalms.

Then and now, Jesus and other Jewish people drew from Psalms for many reasons. Then and now, Christians rely on Psalms, too, as shown in Acts 1:20, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and many other Bible verses. Why? Christians and Jews love the book of Psalms as:

Written prayers


Anthology of poetry

Source of godly wisdom

Examples of heartfelt prayer

Outlet for genuine emotion

Devotion and meditation

Inspired writings

Prophetic word

Apparently Jesus also memorized at least some of the psalms because, from the cross, He quoted Psalm 22 not only to express the agony He felt but to encourage His followers who knew, as Jesus did, how the psalm ends. In addition, this fulfilled the word of prophecy recorded in that poem and printed prayer.

What does this have to do with us today as Christian writers, editors, and poets? Hopefully, a lot! For example:

Written prayers are preserved prayers, private prayers, public prayers, proven prayers, and prayers that immediately connect us with one another and with God. Whenever and wherever you pray a psalm or other Bible prayer, countless prayer partners stand with you in all times and places.

Psalms provide long-loved examples of beautifully written songs, poems, instructional teachings, and wisdom writings. Studying and reading aloud each psalm can help us to attune our ear and improve the poetic quality of our writing in all genres.

Psalms give us insight into the spiritual life and also the life of faith realistically lived and written in all genres.

Psalms draw us closer to God, not only with praise and thanksgiving but, more often, with laments! Thankfully, those laments typically end on an encouraging word of faith, helping us to cry out with true feelings and draw on faith that has been tested as we, too, write prayers, poems, and writings in all genres.

Psalms remind us of the ongoing timeliness of the Bible and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of God’s Word, written into our lives as Christian poets, editors, and writers in all genres, all places, and all times.

If you would like to discover prayers in the Bible that enliven your faith and guide your prayers and writings today, follow the Bible Prayers blog. May blessings abound on all who enter that space.

© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.


6 thoughts on “Did Jesus read poems, quote poetry, and pray printed prayers?

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  1. Although Jesus was born into poverty, he had the richness of words. When you consider his sermons, he was quite eloquent in expressing himself. An incredible influencer, he left people thinking and being able to see beyond the obvious. Poetry and Psalms are deep and powerful expressions of the heart and soul, I have no doubt that Jesus read and understood them at a level we all strive to understand.

  2. Each day my morning begins with thanks and gratitude to God after I have put on His full armor. It's then the Holy Spirit that indwells me speaks to my heart. Activities that I engage in for the day follow a supernatural path. Today I was led to this post that speaks to my gift of writing poetry that reflects the many trials God has so lovingly brought me thru…they always end with giving honor, praise, gratitude and love to our Triune God, THE HOLY TRINITY.

  3. Thanks, Adeline. I turn to Psalms, too, as a source of comfort and faith-building, but I especially love how the laments in the Psalter speak to real emotions and situations yet pivot into worship. Since this blog focuses on Christian writers and poets, I hope readers will see the value of keeping their poems and writings real while ending on a note of faith or thanksgiving.

  4. As a young man, it would not be surprising that Jesus learned not just Psalms, but the entire Old Testament as he was growing up. That's basically the curriculum any Jewish boy living at this time would need to go through.

    These days, people worship God when things are going well, but curse God when things are not. That's why I love reading the Book of Psalms. Apart from being very poetic, it's a perfect example and reminder of how regardless of what we are going through in life, we should never stop worshipping God. It's a reminder that in the midst of trials we have to give glory to God, not because of the trial, but because of the realization that we have a God that's bigger than our trials and a God who will see us through them.

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