Maybe like me you’ve wanted a deeper and stronger prayer life. We know it’s there for us, but we struggle with consistency or with thoughts that meander despite our best intentions. Right? Double ugh.
Learning to pray scripture has broadened and deepened my prayers. It keeps my mind focused on praying and takes my Bible study even deeper as I turn what I’ve studied into a personal prayer.
Praying scripture is not new. The whole book of Psalms is a prayer book. But using the Psalms and other Bible verses as the basis for my prayers is a fresh approach for me.
Praying scripture uses the words of a Bible verse or a Bible passage to guide your prayer. It’s a powerful way to pray for several reasons.
1.Praying scripture keeps my mind from wandering.
So often when I’m praying, I start out on track only to find minutes later I’ve drifted to that phone call I need to return which leads to revisiting a conversation I had yesterday which leads – well, it’s a consistent struggle to keep my mind on praying.
The enemy loves to distract us from the important work of prayer. Praying scripture helps me reign in wandering thoughts because it acts as a guide through which I can pray.
2. Praying scripture broadens my prayers.
We can fall into the trap of praying the same things with the same words. Also, our prayers are often limited by what we know to pray for. Praying through the Bible expands my prayers by guiding me into new areas I’ve not been praying and reminding me of areas that need prayer.
3. Praying scripture makes confession more regular.
One spiritual discipline sorely lacking in the 21st century church is regular confession. The Protestant church has largely thrown the baby out with the bath water here. When we do make confession part of our prayer, it’s typically the catch-all “please forgive me for my sin” kind of confession.
Praying through Bible verses makes our confession much more picky. We’re confronted with not just our sin but our distinct sins and we can then confess each specifically.
4. Praying scripture is praying the will of God.
So often, our prayers can become a bucket list of things we want and things we need. While it’s right to take our requests to God, we also need to let God align us to His will and His ways.
When we pray the very Word of God, we’re praying God’s heart. We’re asking based on His promises and His character. We’re praying back to Him what He’s already declared in His Word.
So, how can we learn to pray scripture?
One way would be use one or two verses from your daily devotion. After reading and studying it, turn it into a prayer. I recently prayed through 1 Corinthians 13 as I studied it, because I not only want to know what Biblical love is, I wanted to incorporate it personally.
I could see with razor clarity where I fall short and I spent quite a bit of prayer time in confession. But I also prayed through the verses, asking God to do in me what I cannot — to love the way God loves.
The Psalms also make a great place to start praying through scripture. Taking one Psalm per day, you could pray through all the Psalms in about 5 months.
Here’s an example of how I prayed through Psalm 30 in the months after Dan died:
1 I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
I prayed these verses in anticipation. I was still very much in the pit of despair and grief and I sure didn’t feel healed but I knew God could bring it and would bring it in His time. I clung to these verses as a prayer of hope:
“Lord, the enemy will not win here. What the enemy would love to use to pull our family apart and keep me down, I pray You will use to draw us even closer. I need You so desperately.”
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
“Lord, I praise you. You are holy and Your ways are always right. Forgive my doubt. Forgive my unholiness. Forgive me for (specific sins / thoughts/ actions). My heart is broken. My kids’ hearts are broken. Help us see You and find joy again. Restore us, Lord.”
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
“Forgive my pride. Forgive my independence. Forgive me for going my own way and wanting my own way. Forgiven me for the idolatry of comfort. And Lord, when I feel good again, keep me utterly dependent on You. Do not let me drift from You. Thank you that You are never shaken and that you secure me through the worst.”
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.
“I need Your mercy. Our family needs Your mercy. We need your help. Father, I am overwhelmed with the needs of my children and the needs of this house and the needs of my own heart.
I have no idea what the future holds. I have no idea what life will look like in 2 years or 5 years. How am I going to parent these kids through their teens? How can I parent my littlest who will be raised without their dad? I cannot do it. It is beyond me and it scares me to death.
But You can. You know. You know the way for us to take. You are our provision. You are our guide. You are the wisdom I need. You are sufficient, more than sufficient, and though our hearts are broken, You’ve promised us abundance Lord. Help us to see it. Help us to know abundant life again.
I praise you that you will restore joy. I praise you even though I don’t see a lot of joy right now. You are faithful. And You will do what you have promised. So my heart praises you, now and forever. You are my God. And forever worthy of all praise.”
Maybe like me, you’ve longed for a deeper, more powerful prayer life. Learning to pray scripture is one more way we can become robust prayer warriors. Because the depth of our prayers is the depth of our walk.
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