Today, we discuss praying with the Bible, and an easy method for learning how to pray Scripture.
By Laura Bailey
I listened intently as beautiful words of praise and adoration flowed from the gentlemen’s lips. His prayer was seamless, natural, as easy as talking to an old friend.
Why can’t I pray like that? Why is my prayer such a struggle for me?
When I come before God, my heart weighs heavy but my head becomes hollow. I stumble over my words; my mind wanders to my grocery list, and I struggle to recall prayer requests. Time meant to leave me with feelings of hope and peace is overshadowed by frustration and shame.
One day, following another beautifully scripted prayer, I asked the gentleman, can you teach your “secret” to great prayers? He smiled, “it’s no secret; I study the Bible and pray the Scriptures.” Pray scriptures? Is that “allowed?” Isn’t that equivalent to spiritual plagiarizing? Would God think less of me if I used someone else’s words?
No, not at all!
The early church in Acts prayed Psalm 2 when they were suffering, “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one (Acts 4:24-26).”
Jesus shares the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 to illustrate how we should approach God in prayer. Jesus on the cross, when praying to God, referenced Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Our Heavenly Father graciously gave us His Word for us to know Him, studying and praying Scripture is a way we can grow in intimacy and love of God.
Related: Learning How to Pray, For Beginners
Praying With The Bible
There are multiple methods to praying Scripture, but I have found that Martin Luther’s four strands of prayer to be most beneficial to teaching us how to pray God’s Word.
Luther’s Four Strands of Prayer
Martin Luther believed that Bible study and prayer were intertwined; we need both to know God intimately. Our Bible study should influence our prayers, and we should pray as we study the Bible. As a simple way to pray Scripture, Luther looked at every biblical text in four parts: instruction, thanksgiving, confession, and petition. Breaking down the text into these four categories allows for spiritual insights to be generated directly from the text.
- Instruction: What is God teaching me in this passage of Scripture?
- Thanksgiving: What do I have to be thankful for that God has provided?
- Confession: What sinful behavior do I need to confess and repent to God?
- Petition: What is my response to God in light of the text?
Let’s look at a passage of Scripture in light of these four strands. Psalms is a great place to start when you are beginning to pray the Bible. Referenced by many as the “book of prayer,” Psalms is a collection of prayers that are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.
Example of Praying the Scriptures
As a specific example, let’s look at using Psalm 5:1-7 as we pray.
Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest. But I, by your great love, can come into your house, in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.
- God is King
- Lay requests before God
- The Lord isn’t pleased with sin
- He is the ultimate judge
- Thank you for hearing my cries for help
- Thank you for your great love for me
- Thank you for allowing me to worship you
- Forgive me when I have engaged in wicked behavior
- I am sorry I have sinned against you
- I confess that I struggle with a prideful spirit
- Forgive me of any untruths I have spoken, thoughts that are displeasing to you
- Please help me to turn to you when with all my needs
- Give me patience as I wait on your will and timing
- Direct my actions, may I turn away from wickedness and pursue righteousness
- May I always come into your presence with a heart of reverence
Heavenly Father, my God and King, I lay my requests before You. You are righteous, and You alone are without sin, the ultimate judge of your creation.
Thank you for hearing my prayers; I know you are listening. You care for me, and you will respond to my requests according to Your will. I am grateful for your great love. A love that is so great You sent your Son to die on the cross, saving me from my sin, so that I could have eternal life with You. I am grateful that I can worship with You, directly communicating with You through Your Word and prayer.
Please forgive me when I have engaged in sinful, wicked behavior, spoken untruths, and allowed pride to reign in my heart. I know that sin is displeasing to you, and I confess my need for forgiveness.
Lord, help me to turn to you as the source of my power and strength. Grant me patience as I wait expectantly and patiently on You. Direct my paths, lead me to pursue righteousness, and flee from evil. May I always approach your throne with humility and a heart of reverence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A Simple Way of Praying With the Bible
Using Luther’s four strands is a simple way of praying with the Bible and just one of many methods for learning how to pray Scripture. Don’t get caught up in making sure you check all the boxes or feel like a failure if your prayer life isn’t transformed overnight. Prayer is a privilege, allowing us 24/7 access to our Heavenly Father, only possible by the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sins.
Remember, the Lord is much more concerned with the attitude of our hearts than the actual words from our lips: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you ( Jeremiah 29:12).”
This post was written by our guest author, Laura Bailey. Deeply burdened for Christian women who, like herself, juggle marriage, motherhood, careers, church, and community, Laura candidly shares her daily struggles and lessons learned to encourage them to live fully and abundantly in Christ. She and her husband live in Gaffney, South Carolina with their three young girls. Laura is a writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today, and blogs at www.LauraRBailey.com.
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