Often our time with the Lord is one of singular focus. We sit with Him as we READ our Bible. We go into our prayer closet to PRAY. From time to time, we might even read our Bible and then pray all in one sitting, but still we engage in them – separately.
Perhaps it’s time to reconsider our approach and begin to shake things up.
In last week’s post, we saw that the spiritual practices perform their best work in our souls when they are interwoven with one another. This being the case, our Bible reading and our prayers, then, are even more powerful when they are combined into one practice – praying Scripture.
In his book, Praying the Scriptures, Evan Howard writes, “To pray the Scriptures is to order one’s time of prayer around a particular text in the Bible.”
Praying Scripture can mean praying back to God the very words He has given to us, personalizing passages of the Bible as we read, or responding to what Scripture is telling us.
Pray the Very Words of God
One way we can interweave the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer is by praying the prayers of the Bible.
Many portions of the Bible are, in fact, prayers (The Psalms, the prayers of Paul). Contemplate, meditate, and reflect on the words of these passages as you read. Go beyond the mere calling out of words. To read these Scriptures thoughtfully IS to pray.
Personalize Passages of Scripture
Any portion of the Bible can be prayed. We are not limited to passages that are prayers.
One way to pray a passage of Scripture is to personalize it.
• Replace pronouns with your own name as you read/pray it back to God.
• Claim promises from God as your own.
• Ask God to help you obey any command found in the reading of a verse.
• If a verse offers guidance on how God wants us to live, ask Him to help you live in the way He desires.
• When the Scripture expresses a need, claim the need as your own.
Pray in Response to Scripture
Another way to pray a passage of Scripture is to pray in response to it.
The Bible is God’s Word to us. Virtually all of it reveals something about God, tells us something He has done, declares what God expects from us, or identifies something we have failed to do. Each of these offers us opportunity to respond to Him in praise, thanksgiving, heartfelt pleas, or confession.
As you read Scripture in His presence, begin by inviting the Holy Spirit into your reading. Then pay attention. Over time, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you will come to recognize passages that relate to your life in some way. And as you think on them, it will also become natural to immediately pray your thoughts.
How does Praying Scripture help us dig deeper into the Bible?
No matter how we choose to do it, PRAYING SCRIPTURE requires us to read for meaning.
This thoughtful, attentive reading-for-meaning slows us down and takes us to a place of increased understanding of God’s Word.
Additionally, praying as we read moves us into conversation with our Heavenly Father.
The two disciplines work in concert to help us grow in knowledge of God and in relationship with Him.
“PRAY THE BIBLE” TIPS
1. Designate a place and eliminate distractions as much as possible.
2. Before you begin, quiet your mind and invite the Holy Spirit into your time.
3. Pray the meaning of the passage not just the words. • Pray thoughtfully – contemplate, meditate, reflect. • Read the passage in context. • Search out who wrote the passage, the audience, the culture, etc.
4. Write out your prayers. Include the date.
5. Write out the Scriptures long-hand. Post them in visible areas or carry them with you. Read them as prayers.
6. Create a Scripture Prayer Journal. Section your journal off by prayer types – prayers for family, prayers for personal growth, prayers for comfort, prayers of praise, etc. Collect Scriptures to pray by writing them in the appropriate section of your journal. Pull out your journal when you feel the need to pray for a certain area.