Praying Through Scripture
By: Jason Dees
In January, our church enjoyed a Prayer Conference led by Don Whitney and focused on spiritual disciplines. I think we all walked away encouraged in our prayer life and it was encouragement that we all needed. If you are like most Christians I know, your prayer life could be better. You find yourself too busy to pray, not knowing how to pray or, worse yet, bored in your prayers. The common sentiment that I hear from Christians is something like this - “I find myself praying the same old things about the same old things - God be with my family, protect my children and help me have a good day.”
Well, I hate to say this, but if that is the extent of your prayer life then it can be kind of boring and lifeless. Now, don’t get me wrong, any attempt at communing with God in prayer is a good thing, but you are right to want your prayer life to be richer and more exciting. The good news is that God has given you an amazing tool that you all have, and that anyone can use to totally revolutionize your prayer life. What is this tool, you ask? Your Bible! The practice of praying through Scripture has energized and vitalized my prayer life like nothing else, and it is something that anyone can do.
Praying through Scripture is as simple as it sounds. You are simply using the Scripture to guide, shape and give language to your prayers. When you begin to pray through Scripture you will notice that the subject matter of your prayers won’t change very much. You will still find yourself praying for: your faith, family, work, church and community; and about: the crisis and victories of your life and the lives of others; and that is a good thing. The reason you spend so much time praying about these aforementioned things is because those are the things that dominate and define most of your life. Praying through Scripture won’t greatly change the subject matter of your prayers, but it will make your efforts in prayer more enjoyable, and thus, you will spend more time before God. More time in prayer will lead to a more effective prayer life and a deeper knowledge of the Lord.
So, how do you pray through Scripture? Well, as you might have guessed, it begins with the Scripture, and a great place to start is with the Psalms. Once you find a portion of the text to pray through, read one or two verses and begin to pray, letting the words of the text guide your prayer. Then, read another verse and do the same thing, letting the words that God inspired in His Holy Bible guide the words that you are praying back to Him.
Let me illustrate this for you with Psalm 23. I am going to give you a verse of the text and then write out a model prayer:
Scripture: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Prayer: Father, you have given me a great shepherd in Jesus, who is the Good Shepherd who has taken on all my sins and who has called me to Himself. What more could I ask for than the privilege and honor of knowing you through Him? Please shepherd my life and my family today.
Scripture: He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
Prayer: Father, I know that you have good plans for me, and even though sometimes I may not understand a situation that you have put me in, I can trust that you are good and your plans are right. Father, I want to be in your pastures, and I want to drink from your waters. I love you, Lord, and I pray that you would continue to guard my soul as you have always done.
That is just a small sampling from Psalm 23, but I hope that gives you an idea of how praying through Scripture works. You can use this technique with any passage of Scripture, but as I mentioned earlier, it is easiest and perhaps most effective with the Psalms. I hope you try praying through the Scriptures today, and see how God can use this simple tool to enrich the way you pray.
Books by Don Whitney (www.biblicalspirituality.org)
- Praying the Bible
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
Family Worship: In the Bible, In History & In Your Home