Jews in ancient times didn't just read the Psalms but prayed them. Jesus, an observant Jew, prayed the Psalms from the Cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" and "Into Your hands, Lord, I commit my spirit." The early Christians started praying the Psalms as the prayer of Christ whenever that seemed to fit.
Most of the Liturgy of the Hours is praying Psalms. At first I had difficulty with certain Psalms, the ones that say I'm sick, please heal me! or Enemies are gonna kill me, please smite them! Couldn't really pray those when my life was going just fine. But then I read a little booklet pointing out that this is the prayer of the whole Church, something you pray not just for yourself but for everyone. Plenty of people in the world are sick or seriously persecuted. So now if I get to a Psalm that's too heavy for my own situation, I'll pray it for those who do need it. Often it ends up becoming the most important part of the Hours for me. I'm very bad at remembering to pray for other people, and this helps.
Today's daytime prayer, for example, had extracts from Pslam 59, and when I prayed it I thought of two groups: the many women and girls who are sold into sexual slavery, and the Chaldean Christians in Iraq who are being targeted for extermination.
Rescue me, God from my foes;That was followed by Psalm 60, and the opening lines make one think of recent disasters in Myanmar and China:
protect me from those who attack me.
O rescue me from those who do evil
and save me from blood-thirsty men.
See, they lie in wait for my life;
powerful men band together against me.
For no offense, no sin of mine, Lord,
for no guilt of mine they rush to take their stand.
Awake, come to my aid and see!
O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
the God who shows me love.
O God, come to my aid
and let me look in triumph on my foes.
O God, you have rejected us and broken us.Good stuff! I appreciate the Psalms a lot more now. I actually used to think them pretty boring, and I didn't know why so many people spoke of them as one of the best parts of the Bible, but now I'm getting it: the Psalms teach me to pray in ways I wouldn't come up with on my own.
You have been angry; come back to us.
You have made the earth quake, torn it open.
Repair what is shattered for it sways....