What Benefits Scripture Praying Brings

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.

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Yielding in Prayer

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Do you have an attitude of entitlement when it comes to what God does for you, gives to you, and how He works in your life?

Do you think the Lord should do things in a particular way for you?

Do you tell God how to answer your prayers?

I find myself answering varying degrees of yes to each of these questions. How about you?

It makes me cringe to think that I come before God, the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s, and act as if I deserve anything or as if He owes me answers to my prayers.

Prayer, communication with the Lord, and fellowship come to us at great cost. We wouldn’t have these privileges apart from the work Jesus did for us on the cross. His death and resurrection gives us access to our Heavenly Father as we accept Jesus as our Savior, the One who took away our sins so that He might present us before the Father in His righteousness.

So Hebrews 4:16 isn’t saying we can come to God demanding our desires and wants. Rather it is saying, come boldly, robed in Christ’s righteousness, knowing that you have access to God, your Heavenly Father. Come boldly knowing that He will have mercy on you and out of the graciousness of His heart He will meet you in your neediness.

The Lord desires us to come as a child comes to his father. He wants us to come:

  • to tell Him what we need
  • to ask for help
  • to seek Him for wisdom
  • to find rest in Him
  • to be rooted in His love
  • to know contentment in His presence and in knowing His presence. He never leaves us.
  • totally dependent on Him, knowing His sufficiency is available

The Lord is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful). He is love. How can we think that He, in His perfect love, would not do what is best for us? How can we think we need to advise Him or manipulate HIm?

But how do we yield in prayer? The transformation occurs in and through our time in His Word, in His presence, and through knowing His magnificent love for us.

Gradually our hearts transform, through the sanctification process, growing from:

  • impatient to more patient
  • mean-spirited to kind
  • boastful to humble
  • self-serving to honoring others
  • easily provoke to calm spirited
  • delighting in evil to rejoicing in Truth

Gradually throughout life, as we grow in relationship with the Lord, we grow in Christ-likeness.

Like a daisy that changes from white to pink as it drinks in the rose-colored water, we too are transformed as we are infused with Christ and His truths.

We grow in Christ-likeness and are transformed. It is through this transformation our hearts are changed by Him. It is then we learn to submit, we learn to yield to Him in our prayers. We begin praying for what is important to Him.

What are you praying for?

Have you asked the Lord what He desires regarding that prayer?

Is your heart growing in yielding to Him in prayer?

Think about these questions. Talk with the Lord about where you are in the process of yielding to the Lord in prayer.

Lord, help each one of us to open our hearts up to You as we pray. Lead us in yielding to You. Lead us Lord, in each cry of our heart, as we pray to You. Hold us in Your love as we patiently wait for Your perfect answer. Amen.

Rekindling: 5 Ways I am Intentionally Drawing Close to the Lord

James 4:8 “Draw close to God and God will draw close to you. Wash you hands you sinners, purify your hearts you hypocrite.”

Did you come away from the holidays feeling exhausted? Were your days busier than you expected or desired?

I noticed that through the holidays my time with the Lord was reduced by the busyness of preparations and celebrations. Reduced, both, in depth and in the amount of time. It seems that although my intentions were good, my to-do list overwhelmed me and the tyranny of the urgent took over.

The beautiful thing about a relationship with the Lord is that He doesn’t leave. He waits for us and desires us to draw near. He is never too busy for us.

Do you feel the need to rekindle the flame in your relationship with the Lord? I know I do.

Satan loves nothing better that to pull us away from the Lord and Savior whether it be by busyness or tiredness.

James tells us that we are to draw near to God and He will draw near to us. I am choosing to be intentional about drawing near to Him. How do you intentionally draw near to the Lord?

I have five specific ways that I am drawing near, seeking the Lord in relationship. Some are daily parts of my quiet time, others once or twice a week.

  1.  I am doing an 18 months Read through the Bible plan. I record the portions of Scripture that speak to my heart in my prayer journal.
  2. I am seeking to know the Lord more through Lectio Divina with Summer Joy Gross in her Slow Word Movement at A Thirst for God. It is a short time of scripture reading, meditation, and prayer. (A more thorough description is found at www.biblegateway.com/blog/2013/09/lectio-divina-divine-reading/)
  3. I am also digging deeper into the Scriptures through Jan Johnson’s book Meeting God in Scripture. Another practice of Lectio Divina. (*see  note at end of post.)
  4. I am making a point of choosing to have a heart of thankfulness writing a daily gratitude list of 3-5 blessings each day.
  5. Prayer is another facet of my intentionality in seeking the Lord. Prayer is interspersed through all of these practices as well as in writing out my personal prayers in my prayer journal, and praying through my prayer list. I use the idea of the Prayer of Examen (this link has information about Lectio Divina also) to go through my day and think about my attitudes, actions, responses and reactions.

The most important part of all of this is it is a means, not magic. I  only want to know the Lord more through His Word and prayer. I am not legalistic about any of it. When I begin to look at my time with the Lord as an obligation, I miss the relationship. More than anything I want to know His presence.

The remainder of James 4:8 speaks of our sinfulness. It seems all too often that this is the part that is overlooked. We need cleansing. We are called to confess and repent. To confess is to tell the Lord of our wrongdoing. To repent is to turn away from our sinful choices. It is helpful to think back through your day before the Lord asking the Holy Spirit to help you remember your thoughts, attitudes, actions, responses, and reactions. Our snide responses, angry reactions, and selfish attitudes are often dismissed in our minds but are detestable before God.

I want to live mindful of what the Lord desires of me. It is so restorative to speak with the Lord about it all and know His grace is there for me. It is like a nice hot bath before bed, washing off the dirt of the day, both cleansing and refreshing. We can find grace and mercy at the throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

It is only when I am intentional in seeking the Lord with my whole heart that He tells me I will find Him. He wants to meet with us.

How will you rekindle your relationship with the Lord? There is nothing more important than drawing near to the Him.

* Note: It is very important to know that as we seek to learn more from the Lord in His word through any kind of listening to Him that we:

1- protect our minds and hearts with a prayer, that the Lord alone may lead and guide us in our understanding.

2- take anything that we think we hear and search the scriptures to make sure that it does not go against anything in God’s Word.

Satan desires to deceive us and mislead us in any way that he can. We must be mindful of this and be sure that we are seeking the Lord. Don’t put yourself in danger of being misled by the Deceiver.

The Lord Gives Us Victory!

Are you prepared for enemy attack?

Here in the middle of all the preparations and even in the quiet of our hearts, our enemy, the devil, can attack with weapons that bring us down by way of feelings of insecurity, overwhelming stress, worry, or fear. We lose our hope and joy so quickly,  we are overcome, and often unprepared for the battle. We feel all alone and scared. 

I was recently studying the Bible narrative of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6:15-23. Elisha’s servant got up in the morning to find them surrounded by enemies, and he was full of fear. Elisha immediately asked the Lord to open his servant’s eyes so that the servant would be able to see that there were more with Elisha and him than with the enemy. The Lord did just as Elisha asked and the servant saw all of the horses and chariots of fire with them.

I learned, as I studied this, that horses and chariots symbolize divine power and the fiery nature of them signifies a divine presence.

Satan uses the circumstances of life and our areas of weakness for his benefit. He wars against us, overpowering us when we least expect it.

This story of Elisha made me realize that at the first sign of enemy attack, as I recognize Satan moving in, I need to pray as Elisha prayed for his servant. I need to ask the Lord to help me see the Lord’s power and His presence standing with me. I need to seek to be equipped to operate in His power, kingdom power. 

“… greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. ” 1 John 4:4

Satan knows our weak spots. It is often when we get too tired, feel lonely, angry, or hungry that we are even more vulnerable to his attacks. During the holidays we have extras added to our to-do lists and we grow weary in the busyness. We need to be alert as to how we are feeling, and be vigilant about standing strong in the Lord. The battle doesn’t stop because it is the holiday season. Satan doesn’t take vacations.

Our enemy wants to defeat us all the more as we seek to prepare for and celebrate our Savior’s birth. Remember to stay strong in the Lord, moment by moment, throughout this season.

Remember the Lord’s power and presence are with us to help us and defend us. We need only call on Him. He is able to give us victory against all of the feats of the devil. 

 God Victorious, help us to see, know, and rely on You to supply Your power and make Your presence real to us in the times we feel attacked or in a weakened state. We want our lives to bring You glory as we celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus. Help us to not be defeated, but rather to overcome with Your kingdom power. In Your victorious name I pray.  Amen. 

The Lord gives us victory in our battles, remember to call on Him. HE IS ABLE TO DO MORE THAN WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE!


 

Surrendering: True Self Desperate for God

Are you faking it in prayer? Just going through the motions? Do you know what I am talking about? Are there some days where you read off the list or ramble off some stuff with your heart far away? Does prayer seem empty and difficult at best, almost like a chore that must be done?

We know as Christians we are supposed to come to the Lord and pray. The Bible goes so far as to tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Has it gone through your mind, ‘without ceasing, I can’t get through 5 minutes’?

I know, I have been there, I have struggled with prayer.

I am learning and finding new excitement for prayer and new joy in prayer.

It was about a year ago that my church was listening to a series on prayer by David Platt. One of the questions that he asked had to do with personal desperation for God. It made me think. It made me realize my own self-sufficiency. I realized that I often did not feel desperate for the Lord and that left my prayers shallow and empty.

Then one day I was reading in Genesis 16 about Hagar and how she recognized the Lord as “the One who sees me” (verse 13). The Lord showed me some truths that day that touched my neediness deeply. I shared about this in a previous post “He Sees Me.”

It has been since then that I have been looking more closely at the precious names of God and realizing that they are really for me. He is really for me. I mean that the names of God help me to know His character more and help me see who He is in light of what I need.

Consider the following? Can you relate to any of these?

Do I feel invisible and unheard? He is the God who sees me (Genesis 16).

Do I feel wounded (in body or emotions) or sick? He is the God who heals (Exodus 15).

Do I feel needy in any area of life? He is the God who provides (Genesis 22).

Do I feel anxious and stressed? The Lord is Peace (Judges 6). He can give us peace.

Am I struggling with sin and having difficulty living the Christian life.  He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).

Am I all alone and feeling discouraged or worried? He is there (Ezekiel 48:35).

He is whatever you need.

It seems so obvious, but yet so difficult. Too often we choose not to go deep, not to go to the heart of the matter. We cry out a list of symptoms and want Him to fix them. We ask Him to make it fast, easy, and painless. But we don’t recognize the real need beneath the symptoms, we don’t take time to search beneath the surface. And, in the end we remain stagnate in our prayer life, we don’t grow.

The Lord wants to change our hearts. He wants to change us from the inside out. I am realizing that I have to come to a place where I must recognize my need for Him in each area of life. I need to bring my heart wounds to Him for healing. I need to yield up the depths of my sin-sickness, all of it, all of the life-long effects, and seek Him, seek His wisdom.

I am finding Him meeting me in the depths with such an amazing understanding of my heart. He is such a personal God. He touches the pain inside with tender love. He holds me in the midst of the life-quakes, and the aftershocks. He helps me to know the reality of the belonging I have with Him. The intimacy of prayer is incredibly beautiful and satisfying.

Next time you go to Him in prayer, lay open your heart, share the desperation within, cry out and He will meet you. He will draw you in. You will find there is no sweeter place. You will yearn to go back often. You will learn to pray without ceasing, because being with Him is being home.

Go home today and find His loving presence.