In his excellent The Day is Yours: Slow Spirituality in a Fast-Moving World (Paternoster, 2008) Ian Stackhouse illustrates something of the wonder and power of the Psalms. In a short chapter on Praying the Psalms he comments:
Before the world gets its teeth into us, the Psalms do their own work of slowing us down, getting us to see ‘heaven in ordinarie’. Instead of bringing God into our world, the Psalms invite us into their world: a world of salvation, grace, trust, thanksgiving, lament, and praise…
When I pray the Psalms the whole company of saints is there with me: those who have gone before and those who are going now. Furthermore, even if I don’t feel what the Psalmist is going through, you can bet that someone else in the community of faith is. Even if I wake up joyful, for a change, and can’t hack why the Psalmist is so downcast – ‘why are so you downcast, I my soul?’ – the simple act of praying the Psalm reminds me that I am part of a community in which at any one time there are people grieving even as I am rejoicing. Conversely, while I am grieving, there are others who are rejoicing. Praying the Psalms tutors us in this community awareness.
Sometimes when I am praying a psalm a face will appear; someone for whom this Psalm describes actual experience. Other times the words of the Psalm sound for all the world like the latest news bulletin from Kosovo, or the Congo, and so, in a strange way, the ancient liturgy helps me to be more up-to-date than I would otherwise be. Precisely because the world hasn’t changed much, and human experience is awful a lot of the time, praying the Psalms, far from representing a retreat into private interiority, is an advance onto the concourse of life. (p.95)
You can my review of the whole book here: The Day is Yours review