It is one thing to read Scripture, but just how many of us actually pray Scripture? If the Bible is full of promises for things that God will do if we only ask, shouldn’t we ask for those things first?
The two of us feel like we found a gold mine when we started praying Scripture. It opened up the Bible in a whole new way. With a little bit of tweaking, we can transpose a generic verse and make into a personal prayer for ourselves and those we love.
13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,the man who gains understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silverand yields better returns than gold.
|The Proverbs 3 Prayer|
Lord bless my friend with wisdom and help her to gain understanding for they are more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.
Transforming Scripture into prayer comes easier for some than others. We’d like to share a few tips to help you on that journey.
1. Beginning. When picking verses to pray for others or yourself, ask God to guide your search and help you to formulate the prayer. Sometimes the issues we see are only symptoms of a deeper spiritual need. God knows much better than we do. Follow his leading. It never hurts to pick ‘good for anybody’ verses to pray. These are just a few I noticed randomly flipping through my Bible: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:14-15, 5:17-21; Galatians 5:16, 22-26; Hebrews 13:6; James 1:2-8, 4:7-10.
2. Choosing Verses. Some verses are clearly laid out for God’s people collectively in a specific time in history and others are more personal. When you choose verses, make sure you are choosing them in context for a situation or choosing them for the principles expressed. Maytag will honor a washing machine warranty, but they will not come fix yours if the repair is outside their terms of service. So it is as well with praying Scripture that wasn’t meant for you. God will hear the request, but tell you ‘sorry’ because it’s outside of his plan or promise.
The Bible is a big book with lots of verses. There are a couple ways to start looking. Pick the word that best describes the situation you want to pray about: discouragement, anger, forgiveness, faith, rejection, abandonment, hope, etc. Then either open up your Strong’s Concordance to the word you chose or head to a website like www.biblegateway.com and enter that word in their keyword search. Either way, you’ll come up with a bunch of verses with your word. Don’t just pick the first one you come to, be sure to read it in context (several verses before and after to understand why it’s being said). Does that verse fit your situation? Is it something you would like to see happen or not occur in your situation? If so, make note of it while you look at other verses. Don’t forget to ask God for discernment as you do this.
Another way to find verses is to pick up a book that has a bunch of verses already listed by category. Any Christian bookstore will have several of these books on their shelves. A couple titles on our shelves are: God’s Words of Life (there are s lot of titles in this series);The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer; Wise Words and Quotes by Vern McLellan; and an old copy of Billy Graham’s Christian Workers Handbook which helps you understand some of the motivation behind a spiritual concept, as well as provide verses for the situation.
3. Converting the Verse to Prayer. Most verses are pretty easy to pray. You just put a person’s name in place of a pronoun or the person speaking. We like to add phrases that clarify the thought of the verse and direct it specifically to the person being prayed for. Notice the subtle changes and additions. The changes are italic in the prayer.
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The Colossians 3:12-14 Prayer
Therefore, as one ofGod’s chosen people, holy and dearly love, Lord clothe my friend with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Create in her a heart that will bear with others and forgive whatever grievances she may have against another. Help my friend to forgive as you forgave her. And over all these virtues, put on my friend love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Other verses can be customized for a specific situation, as long as they match the principle expressed in the context of the verse. The person we prayed for in The Psalm 68:9-10 Prayer was really struggling with life when we started praying. We strongly suspected he was saved, but choosing a life of sin. Therefore we expressed it in the following prayer.
The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.
The Psalm 69:33 Prayer
Lord, you know that my friend is one of your chosen, right now he is one of the captive people. Lord he is captive of sin. Lord he is needy, please do not despise him and hear this cry.
Until you get accustom to praying Scripture, we encourage you to write your prayers out. In writing them out, you are able to think about what you want to say, how it relates to the passage you choose and present it best. When you get a feel for how to do it, feel free to pray ‘on the fly’ when you come to a verse in Scripture that speaks to you about a certain situation. There is nothing better than stumbling on a verse in your daily reading that speaks to a situation you're in.
4. Seek a Different Perspective. This summer a friend of mine was in a pickle spiritually. After talking extensively with her, I encouraged her to pray. She then expressed that her exasperation was because she was praying for hours, yet nothing seemed to be happening. I suggested she drop the prayer burden she'd been carrying, go back and pray Scripture over family and friends. That way she could know that she was praying specifically for something God promises to do. She asked me to help her pick some verses. Afterwards, when she spent time in prayer with the Scripture we picked, she felt her time better spent and received many answered prayers.
If you ever feel weary from praying your own words, stop and pick Scripture to pray. That way you will a.) know specifically that you are praying for something God has agreed to provide. b.) have a record of what you’ve been asking for. and c.) don’t have to come up with your own words. Sometimes coming up with new words to pray the same thing for a long time, is what exhausts us the most.
The prayer below was one of the ones I created for her. Notice how the wording is all there, but the order has been changed around.
"In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling."
The Exodus 15:13 Prayer
Lord I know you have redeemed my friend, please lead her and reveal to her your loving leading. In your strength, guide my friend into your holy dwelling.
Now comes the fun part, watching God work through prayer!
5. Waiting for Answers. This summer Liz choose multiple verses to pray for her brother and we worked together to turn them into prayer. She chose verses on needs, specifically thinking about money because “I wanted to see tangible results and I knew that he was having money issues.” And we did see results. This is one of our prayers:
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor.
The Psalm 68:10 Prayer
Lord let my brother settle in your refreshment and provide for him from your bounty O God. Provide for him as he is poor in spirit and in his day to day provisions.
This fall, long after we started praying, Liz's brother had some health issues. He was hospitalized, unable to work and had no health insurance. There were at least four specific answers to prayer as God took care of her brother’s finances throughout his recuperation. God provided over and over in the most unique ways. One way in particular, their mother’s co-workers took up a collection that tipped the scales at $1350 to help him cover medical expenses! That was an overwhelming blessing and answer to prayer.
God answers prayer in all sorts of ways. We may feel led to pray about something and then mentally conjure up reasonable and tangible ways to see that happen. But often, if we can imagine it, God is not likely to provide an answer that way. In no way did we expect that anyone would take up a collection for Liz’s brother or that it would be as large as it was.
We serve a God who turned water into wine at a wedding one afternoon. Why should we doubt that he could spin spiritual gold from words on paper recorded so long ago? Enjoy praying the words God has penned through the years. You never know when a prayer of David might be just what you need!