I have found that praying the Scriptures is invigorating to my time with the Lord. I have used this method much more recently than in the past. I had used the scriptures for prayer in the past, but mostly by reading a prayer I found in the Scriptures and putting in names or praying it specifically for myself. But the game changer came when I read the book, Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. He helped me to learn so much about prayer, as well as a wonderful way to pray using Scripture. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is struggling in their prayer-life or just needs some encouragement.
There are many benefits to praying Scripture, and Donald Whitney especially highlights using the prayer-book in the Bible, specifically the book of Psalms. He explains how to use other portions of Scripture for prayer as well.
Let me specifically share the benefits I have found.
First of all, the most obvious benefit is it gets you into God’s Word. There are so many books about the Word, and studies that use the Word to answer questions, that it is easy to just use the Bible as a reference book. When you use Scripture for prayer, you choose a portion and read it slowly. You meditate on what the author says. So for me right now that means I choose a Psalm and I read through it once to become familiarized with its content, and then I begin the process of praying through it.
Donald Whitney explains in his book that as we read the chosen Psalm, you slowly read and use it to prompt a prayer need, and you pray that need then go on reading. You may have many prayers for one verse and none for others, but it is not about using all the verses, it is about being drawn into God’s Word and praying it back to Him. Whether that means worshiping Him in a praise of the Psalmist or confessing how much you do not feel like worshiping because of the overwhelming concerns in your life. Praying the Scriptures may mean recognizing more about Who God is in ways that are new to you. It may mean your heart becomes burdened for the lost because of what you read. It means being open to the Holy Spirit prompting your heart with His Word to pray whatever He brings to you, and that brings us to the next benefit.
I have found in praying Scripture I have a new openness to the Spirit. My heart and mind are fully focused on God’s Word, and the Spirit uses His Word to touch my heart with Truth that easily relates to my life and the lives of those around me. The Psalmist may share the thanksgiving of his heart in a portion of the psalm and one word he says may prompt me to recognize so much that I have to be thankful for.
For example, Psalm 9 begins “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart. I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Well reading that made me realize first of all that I was distracted and overwhelmed, I wasn’t attending to Him with my whole heart, so I had to ask for help to concentrate and really be present with Him. I had to quiet my soul, my heart, and my mind. It was then I could share all that I had on my heart to be thankful for, telling Him of the great wonders He had shown me, being glad and exulting in Him, and even being drawn into songs of praise. Later in this Psalm David speaks of the Lord being a “Stronghold.” Here I asked the Lord to be a stronghold for certain people in my life who were going through difficult times and needed Him even more than we need Him every day. I shared my own troubles, and how my heart needed protection because of certain hurts. Just one Psalm gives us an open door to so many prayers of our hearts as the Spirit opens our eyes to what He sees and knows and reveals things we have missed in our busyness or distraction.
I also have found praying the Scriptures beneficial because there are so many Psalms, with the Psalmist’s sharing their hearts out of different circumstances. Each prayer-time is new, a different perspective, a different way to bring my needs before the Lord highlighting these needs in a different way.
And finally, always amazing to me, but a known truth is the fact that the Lord makes His Word fresh and new to me each time I read it. I am in a new place each day emotionally, and spiritually. My outlook on life may be different, my neediness for the Lord may be different, my understanding of the Word may touch my heart in a different way dependent on my perspective on life that day. I may reread a Psalm I did a different day and totally different words and truths stand out to me and my prayers are voiced in a new way about the same people and the same things. It is never boring.
God’s Word gives us all we need to learn to pray and to pray from the depths of our hearts with earnestness and also finding the depths of our very real desperation for our Father God.
His Word is written for us and we can benefit so much as we read it and use it in praying. I hope that your heart is encouraged to open up your Bible and use it for prayer.