At least once a month throughout this year, I want to write about some practical ways to freshen the pursuit of a life of prayer. Today I want to discuss several ways of praying scripture.
- Probably the most common way people think of praying scripture is to actually pray the words of a Psalm or Biblical prayer. Many of the psalms ARE prayers in poetic form, so this makes sense. Some excellent “prayer psalms” include Psalm 3, 8, 15, 16, 18, 25, 30, 51, 54, 57, 63, 66, 71, 84, 98, 101, 103, 108, 123, 130, 138, 139, 142, 143, 145, 146, and 150 (among several other passages throughout the others). There are also wonderful “prayer” passages throughout the rest of the Bible. In the New Testament, there are the prayers of Jesus, as well as prayers throughout the Epistles. Choose a familiar one. Choose one that is new to you. Choose an entire passage, or just a few verses…
- A second way to “pray scripture” is to read a passage and “pray it back” in your own words. Echo the praises (or the confessions or requests) of the original speaker. Add your own personal words and thoughts to those of others through the ages.
- Another method is to read a passage of scripture, or a story from scripture, study it, meditate on it–then use what you have just learned about God’s character to inform your prayer. Did God show Himself to be powerful, merciful, faithful, Holy, patient? Reflect that back to Him in prayer.
- Related to this method is praying back to God His attributes and names as found in Scripture. “The God who sees.” “The God who hears.” “The Almighty.” “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The God of Israel.” “Wonderful Counselor.” “The Son of Man.” “The Lamb of God.” etc.
- Yet another way to use scripture in prayer is to reflect on a person in the Bible and how God used that person, blessed that person, or dealt with that person. David, Daniel, Ruth, Hannah, Jonah, Samson, Gideon, Esther, Paul, Peter, Mary Magdelene– there are several examples of real, fallible, often ordinary people who encountered God. How did God find them? What did He do for them (or in spite of them!)? What could He be planning to do in YOUR life if you follow Him?
- Finally, there are scriptures that leave us with questions. Why not use these questions as a opportunity to pray!? Take a passage of scripture that you find confusing or even contradictory, and pray about it. Ask God for wisdom and understanding. Come to Him believing that there is a purpose to each word and passage of the Bible, and that He can reveal Himself through even those words that seem to make no sense!
Of course, not all of our prayers will be “scripture-based” in this way. But what might happen if we try praying this way once this week? Prayer is so mysterious and multi-faceted–we should engage and explore as we pray. After all– it’s more than just prayer– it’s a pursuit!
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