8 Things to Remember As You Pray Scripture

When I was a little girl I had a hard time sleeping. So I quickly learned strategies to help me through the night one of them was to pray scripture.

I was petrified of all the sounds I heard outside my window and would lay in bed sweating in sheer terror.

Welcome to how my prayer life got started.

It was out of “survival” that I sought the Lord with all of my heart. My parents had taught me to pray early on so I would ask God for help.

I’m not sure what my prayers sounded like but they probably went something like this, “Jesus, please don’t let the monsters outside my window get to me. Please keep me safe. Please help me not feel so scared.”

As I got older my prayers changed from simply crying out to having full-on conversations with the Lord. It was those night time terrors that confirmed to me that God really does listen and care about me.

After school, I would sit at the edge of my bed and recount to God the many things that happened to me that day. I would talk to Him as if he was sitting right there next to me on my bed.

One afternoon I rode my bike to a friend’s house who lived past a dark bridge. Time had slipped away so I ended up leaving her house later than I was supposed to be out. I was petrified to ride past that scary bridge at dusk.

I prayed all the way home but I didn’t just pray my “help me” prayers. I prayed scripture. Earlier that year I met a lady at a bookstore who encouraged me to memorize Psalm 23. Between her influence and my parents, I memorized Psalm 23.

So guess what I was talking to God about as I crossed that bridge? I was praying Psalms 23 right back to Him all the way home. “The Lord is my Shepherd I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures… Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me…

Nobody ever told me to pray scripture but that evening I prayed it all the way home.

That was the beginning of my praying scripture journey without even knowing that it’s a good faith habit.

Maybe you can relate to my story and have prayed scripture and didn’t even realize you were. Or perhaps for you, this is a new concept. No matter where you’re at on your faith journey know that speaking God’s word back to Him is woven throughout all of scripture. The book of Psalms is a great example of it.

Well, it wasn’t until college that I made praying scripture a faith habit in my life. I would take a passage from scripture and meditate on it for days. As I meditated on it I would pray it out loud, write it out and memorize it.

God knows everything so it’s not like you’re telling him anything new when you talk to Him. What prayer does is invite God into the pain, joy of your circumstances. Prayer is releasing your circumstances to Him and allowing Him to speak into it. It’s a dialogue between you and God not a monologue of a list of all the things you want to tell Hi.

Prayer has changed my life and has drawn me closer to Him. Praying Scripture has kept me connected to my Heavenly Father in good times and in the challenging times when I had no words of my own.

Scripture Meets Our Every Need

When we are able to see that God’s word was made with us in mind our perspective will forever be changed on how we approach Him.

I love this quote from John Piper:

Yes, the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers on how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.”

When we taste and see that His Word truly fills us it will no longer be a book about a bunch of people that you can’t relate to instead you’ll see it for what it is– the Living Word in which we can delight in Him and where He makes himself known to you.

If you don’t believe me here’s how God describes it in the Bible– it is God-breathed, alive, and active. It’s God’s letter to us. The Bible is God’s way to communicate with us. It’s timeless and can help us with our every need. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Don’t miss that last phrase, “for EVERY good work”. His Word is sufficient and guides us in all things as we delight in it. One of the ways we can delight in it is through meditating on it and praying scripture.

8 Things to Remember When You Pray Scripture

  1. Read the context of the verse. Read the chapter so you can grasp the meaning and significance of the passage. Ask yourself, “What is the author trying to tell us? What do I learn about God? What is He
  2. Read the verse a few times. Read the verse over and over again take note of the words that stand out, are repeated, or commands.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom so you can understand it. The Word of God can’t be understood apart from the Holy Spirit. God’s word tells us that we can ask for wisdom. (James 1:5) So ask God to open the eyes of your heart to see His truth and hear His voice.
  4. Personalize it. Not all scripture is meant to be personalized. There are many verses in the Old Testament that are not about us they are about the people of Israel, the city of Jerusalem… This is why it’s important to do step #1. But we can glean principles and truths about the passages.
  5. Find Scripture that was originally written as a prayer. There are lots of those throughout the book of Psalms, also in the New Testament you have the Apostle Paul start off a section by saying, “I pray”.
  6. Praying Scripture should never be taken as an encantation that we recite in order to get something. Praying Scripture is taking His words and agreeing with them. Our heavenly Father invites us to ask Him for everything we need but we are not demanding it as if He was a genie. He delight in His blessings but let’s not forget that prayer is much more than a list of wants.
  7. Prayer is not to change God’s mind. Because it is not in God’s character to change His mind, He does not but prayer can change things in our heart. Our prayers help align our hearts to His not the other way around.
  8. Prayer is not a monologue. Prayer is a dialogue, a conversation, between you and your Heavenly Father. It’s not simply a time to recite a list of “I want” and then end with an Amen and continue about your day until you do the same thing again the next day. When we come to Him with a posture willing to listen then our hearts are transformed.

Questions to Help You Ponder

Here are a few resources that have helped me. I love to pray the Psalms so this set of cards has helped me pray for my children. I used these Prayer Cards.

Also, I really like what John Piper shared in an article I read of his. So I adapted it his questions that help you go through Praise, Petition and Confession.

  • What about this passage points me to God or Christ?
    This would be Praise.
  • What about this passage is about something he expects of us?
    This would be Petition.
  • What about this passage uncovers how I have failed?
    This would be Confession.

Let’s Pray!

So I’m going to keep it simple and show you how to pray through the verse in Psalms 23:1.

“The Lord is my shepherd I lack nothing.”

As I read the verse over and over again the words that stand out to me are “my”, “shepherd” and “lack nothing”.

First example: Incorporate scripture into a conversation you’re having with God:
Heavenly Father, I love that David uses the word “my”. It’s so personal.
You belong to me, I belong to you. You are mine. I am yours.
Thank you for being my Shepherd.
I often believe the lie that I lack things so I go off looking for what I think is missing. Trying to fill my life with things, busyness, pleasures, and yes even something as simple as food and social media.

But in your mercy, you come after me. Thank you for your everlasting love. Thank you for reminding me this morning that I lack nothing. In your name, I pray amen.

Second example: I can also pray the verse without adding anything to it. For example, “Lord, you are my shepherd I lack nothing. Amen”

Third example: I can pray this for someone else or myself and insert their name. Heavenly Father, May Ben realize that you are his Shepherd and he lacks nothing. Amen

I made these prayer cards to help me connect with God and my children and I’m sharing them with you because it’s helped so many women who struggled with knowing how to pray scripture. I’ve heard wonderful things from those who have used them.

Start by praying a verse from the Psalms for your family and yourself with this “31 Days of Praying the Psalms for Your Children“. You will pray a different Psalm each day for your children (spouse and/or ourselves), there are 31 scripture prayers, 31 questions to help you connect with your child and 31 words of encouragement or biblical affirmations to speak over them. Plus 5+ blank cards to write your own.

Then stand by and be amazed by love! Watch how God will not only transform your own heart but will also deeply connect you to your child.

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17

I hope I’ve given you lots of resource to ponder but don’t get bogged down and the details and simply PRAY!

But I Had Hoped: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

But I had hoped.

You may have found yourself saying that little phrase a lot this year, “But I had hoped… we could gather for the holidays. 

But I had hoped we could go visit them. 

But I hoped she would’ve of made it out of this. 

But I had hoped he wouldn’t have gotten sick.

But I had hoped our business would’ve survived this.

This phrase has become all too familiar to us in the midst of so many disillusionments and disappointments in 2020. I don’t know what you’re “But I had hoped… moment is for you.” but I pray you find encouragement through this reminder.

So I want to take us back to scripture to see what it says when we find ourselves in a place where our hope diminished. You can watch the video HERE on this topic.

We Aren’t the First to Ask this Question

Today I want to focus on the passage in Luke 24:21 when the disciples are walking down the Emmaus road after Jesus Christ is crucified. 

First, you need to know what was going on before all this took place. Jesus Christ was just crucified. He had actually resurrected and either hadn’t heard or didn’t quite believe it yet. They were overwhelmed by their despair that their Savior was now dead. That their King whom they had been following was no longer with them.

So the disciples are walking down the Emmaus road feeling pretty confused and overwhelmed with all that had taken place. Then this stranger starts asking them what is going on. The disciples begin to recount the events that had taken place. And then we see this very phrase show up in verse 21:

“But we had hoped He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Do you hear the disappointment, grief, and confusion?

How often have we found ourselves in this place like the disciples? The reality is the disciples knew the truth. Jesus had been preparing them for this day since the beginning and here they are overwhelmed by the circumstances. They are stricken with grief and overwhelmed by their circumstances. Things had not quite unfolded as they had imagined.

There are so many more examples throughout Scripture. We see it in the Old Testament as the Israelites wander in the desert and they had hoped they would be in the promised land. Then there was Martha who cries out to Jesus, “But we had hoped you would’ve come earlier and kept Lazarus from dying.”

Let’s go back to the Emmaus Road. This stranger hears their concern and then He takes the disciples on a journey through the Word of God and basically says to them, “Remember!” He takes him back to the Word of God and reminds them of all that Scripture says about Jesus.

Well they continue walking and then they invite this stranger to dine with them and in that time of connecting with Him, spending time with him it all comes together and their eyes are opened to see that this stranger is Jesus. Their hope is revived!

When they are running low on hope and overwhelmed with confusion there are three things that stand out to me:

  • They talk about what is happening to them.
  • They go through God’s word to remember all that it says about Himself.
  • They spend time in the presence of Jesus.

What helps them see Jesus? What revives their hope? Spending time in His Word and in His presence helps revive their hope. So much so they say, “Were not our hearts burning.”

Hope what is it?

Hope in the New Testament is “Elpizo” in greek which means to trust, to await with full confidence. This kind of confidence only comes from leaning into His truth and gazing on His presence.

It’s not wishful thinking or blind optimism. It’s standing confidently on His promises knowing that even though it doesn’t feel like this is going to be okay–God is with us. God doesn’t just offer “positive vibes or good thoughts” He offers himself. He is Hope in the flesh. He is Hope in us. Emmanuel means, “God with us.”

Friends He has not left us out to die. He has not forgotten us. He is in us, He goes before us and He is working through us.

But often we put our hope, trust, confidence on our expectations, what we dream of, want, wish for– instead of putting our hope, confidence, and trust in Christ. When we put it in Christ we are not put to shame.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NIV)

When we put our hope in Christ we can be confident that He will do what He says He will do.

Running Low on Hope

Here’s the thing you can be a faithful follower of Christ and find yourself putting your hope on something other than Jesus.  Or you can find yourself going through one hard thing after another and your hope begins to run low. But we don’t have to stay here. When the looming cloud of disappointment awaits in the morning don’t put it on instead, put on Christ. Ask Him for help.

If you can relate to hope running low, then can I encourage you to make time to be in His presence. When our hope is running low it’s easy to lose focus and begin to gaze on that which does not deliver. 

My dear sisters in Christ,  in His presence, is where we go to fill up on hope. In His presence, we are reminded of His faithfulness. 

God is our Promise Keeper. Years ago His people experienced a 400 year period of silence but God kept His promise and a child was born — Emmanuel–God with us. He did then and He will continue to keep His promises. We can rest in this hope. 

Where’s Your Focus

When we focus on all that is wrong in this world, all of our disappointments and our bad lot; we walk away feeling pretty lousy. We feel like we have been forgotten or even cheated out of something better and that’s exactly where the enemy wants you. He wants you to doubt all that God has told and focused on the bad just like the disciples on the Emmaus road. The disciples knew the truth but they had forgotten. They had chosen to focus on their dashed hopes and disappointments instead of the truth Jesus himself had told them about.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling disappointed and grieving what you had hoped for but we can’t stay there because the enemy is ready to turn it into bitterness.

So I leave you with these words from the prophet Jeremiah who remind us what to focus on. He finds himself in the midst of some tragic times, the destruction of the nation of Jerusalem. He laments this tragedy and then he says in Lamentations 3:21: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. 

What does He call to mind–God’s truth. This is exactly what happened on the Emmaus road. Jesus helped the disciples in their despair by calling to mind Scripture–helping them remember.

After he says this we read the verse that for centuries God’s people have uttered with tears and with HOPE–Because of the lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning great is thy faithfulness.”
He remembers–God’s love. His compassion. His faithfulness.

May in this season of life we find comfort in His truth and His presence so we can be people of Hope pointing others to Him.

A light in the midst of the darkness.

God Delights in You–Believe it.

God delights in you.

Do you believe it? This morning the Lord brought to my mind a situation that I shared in the Bible study that I published recently but it didn’t make the cut by the publisher.

I talked about how one morning I was home alone working on my long to-do list. Sometimes I like to bundle my routines so I got on my stationary bike as I prayed for the various people God had laid on my heart. I love praying scripture so that morning I was praying Zephaniah 3:17 for the various people.

The Lord your God is with you,

    the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

    but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

As I prayed this verse over a particular person who hurt me months earlier I was gripped with emotion. Each word echoed in my heart,
Heavenly Father, I pray that ___ would realize that you are in __ midst. I thank you for being our almighty God who is mighty to save us. May ___ realize in the depths of their heart this reality. You take great delight in ___ and in your love you no longer rebuke ___ but instead you rejoice over __ with singing.

You guys I couldn’t finish that prayer without sobbing. I was choked up when I got to the words, “You delight in ___”. This person had hurt me with their choices. I had already forgiven them. They had already gone to you for forgiveness.

God Delights in You–Believe it.

But as I prayed this prayer I realized that in my disappointment I couldn’t even imagine God delighting in them. God not rebuking them but instead rejoicing over them with singing.

My thoughts convicted me so I asked God for forgiveness.

I also had to ponder something else –Why was it so hard for me to believe this truth about God? As I pondered this thought I came to the realization that I struggle with believing that God delights in me. I can’t give to others what I don’t believe in for myself.

In that realization, I found freedom. I was in awe by His love.

Oh, that we might believe it and savor it and bring it to mind again and again until it is our very nature to feel the truth that “the godly are designed for unknown and inconceivable happiness.” Unremitting confidence in this truth would surely transform our attitudes and keep us steady in the face of great adversity.”

John Piper – Taste and See

My sisters in Christ join me in believing that God is not in heaven waiting for you to mess up. God is not in heaven shaking his finger at you. When God sees you he sees you robed in the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 5:18) And if you’re still not convinced Philippians 3:9 says, “That I may be found in Him, having the righteousness of God. We walk throughout our day enrobed and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

The Lord delights in you.

Repeat that with me–The Lord delights in me.

Will you believe this truth over your life today?

Every Day Ask a Question & Listen Really Well

Ever since I can remember I’ve had a question on my tongue. When I was younger I kept a lot of these questions to myself and simply pondered them in my heart.

My father was an inquisitive man and he taught us how to ask questions. He regularly drilled us with questions after we watched a movie, “What’s the message in this movie? What did you learn?” I would sit at the dinner table regularly debating about everything under the sun.

Well, around my high school/college years my question began getting me in trouble. They were no longer looked upon as inquisitive or insightful they were suddenly viewed as a form of questioning authority or overstepping my role and they were not welcomed.

I have always tried to be respectful when I ask questions or when I want to address a topic so it was shocking to me that I would offend people by simply asking a question. I remember asking a doctor some questions about his observations from my appointment and he was so annoyed with me. He basically told me I could go see another doctor if that made me feel better. Wow! In some way, I would even say the church denomination I grew up it was frowned upon when women asked questions.

Good questions get to the heart of issues

While I was in college I had the joy of meeting a white-haired man who was the newly hired pastor at my church. He not only welcomed my questions but we would meet regularly and he would ask me this question– How’s your heart? It was one of my favorites.

In our time we discussed his upcoming sermon and we debated about theology to my heart’s content. I loved a good debate so this meeting time I had with him was something I treasured. He and his wife quickly became some of my good friends. He actually performed our wedding and we still keep in touch.

Questions have always been a way for me to get to know people, it’s how I process (but not always out loud), it’s how I identify problems, understand hard things, come up with ideas and sometimes it’s what God uses to speak to me.

Speaking of God. I want to add that God is not frightened by our questions. We can come to Him with our questions. The reality is He already knows them even when we choose to keep them to ourselves. So come to Him with your pondering, confused, doubtful, and intrigued heart.

A Week of Asking Questions

So today when I came across this beautiful story by the author of Desperaux Katie DiCamillo. She talked about a 5th grade boy who came up to her at a book signing and said, “My teacher said fifth grade is the year of asking questions.
“Really?” I said.“Yeah,” he said. He took out a notebook. “Every day we’re supposed to ask someone different a good question and listen really good and then write down the answer when they’re done talking.”

“My question is how do you get all that hope into your stories?” “That’s not a good question,” I said. “That’s a great question. Let me think. Um. I guess that writing the story is an act of hope, and so even when I don’t feel hopeful, writing the story can lead me to hope. Does that make sense?”

Ask Someone a Really Good Question

Isn’t that a wonderful practice? Let’s add this to our daily routine–Ask someone a really good question, listen really good and then write down the answer…

Well, you may be thinking, “What’s a really good question?”
Have you heard the saying, “No question is a dumb question?” There may be some truth to this statement but I think in life we sometimes ask “dumb” questions simply because we didn’t take the time to think about what we wanted to know. So keep reading because I will share a few good questions that you can keep in your back pocket.

So I propose that this week we do these two things:

  • Ask someone a really good question.
  • Listen really well.

The author DiCamillo ends her post with this,

Maybe this is a time to start asking good questions, a time to write down the answers, a time to listen to each other really well.

What’s a Really Good Question?

The questions I share below vary from simple to deep. Many of these are good starting points that can lead to more questions. If you listen well you will know what to ask next. Sometimes it can be as simple as rephrasing what they just said or saying “Oh, wow! And what else?” or “What’s on your mind?”.

I love using some of these questions to my children and spouse. You can use these questions with your co-workers, strangers, family and friends.

  1. Were you named after anyone in particular?
  2. Were your parents strict or lenient?
  3. What did you find to be the most difficult part about growing up? Being a teen? A young married? An empty nester? A college student…
  4. When are you the happiest?
  5. How’s your heart?
  6. What was your favorite Bible story as a kid?
  7. Did you have a nickname as a kid? How did you get that name?
  8. What’s something embarrassing that you’ve done?
  9. What advice have you received that has stuck with you?
  10. Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
  11. Do you think you’re beautiful?
  12. What verse in the Bible has influenced you?
  13. What hobby have you wanted to develop?
  14. What’s your favorite series to watch?
  15. What are you reading lately?
  16. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
  17. When did you come to know Christ as your Savior?
  18. What was your first impression of me?
  19. Where did you grow up?
  20. Do you remember your first crush? date?
  21. If you wrote a book what would the title be?
  22. What’s missing in your life right now?
  23. What are you grateful for today?
  24. Where do you go when you need peace?
  25. What was/is your favorite childhood book?

This week make it your focus to ask one good question to your spouse, neighbor, friend, children or stranger. And don’t forget–listen really well. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn about a person when you listen.

Strong Women Laugh at the Days to Come

You are probably familiar with this verse from Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come.” It truly is a beautiful passage to have on the walls of our home.

Grab this image HERE!

I don’t know what the times were like when King Lemuel’s mom gave him this sound advice about women –She is clothed with strength and honor, She laughs at the future. Proverbs 31:25

But currently, we find ourselves in the midst of a challenging year with a global pandemic, racial tension, and hate on the rise, political divisiveness, and a tremendous amount of stress and fear. With people all over the world wondering what the future holds for them.

We definitely do NOT find ourselves in “laughing at the future” times maybe it’s more like “anxiety-filled about the future” times wondering what will happen with our health, finances, politics, family, community, and the world at large. I can’t say I have felt strong nor I have felt like laughing at our future throughout these past 11 months.

So this morning when I read “She is clothed with strength and dignity she can laugh at the days to come.” I was immediately filled with questions like–Where does this strength come from? Why does this woman have that gives her the ability to laugh at the future?

Clothed With Christ

In Proverbs 31:30 we get the answer to those questions. We clearly see that this woman is not just any woman she is a woman who fears the Lord, a daughter of the King. A woman of God knows her Heavenly Father and chooses to imperfectly lean into His strength and live in accordance with His truth.

A woman of God knows that her “might, courage, honor, dignity, and boldness” comes from the Lord.

I love the word used in verse 25 “clothed”.

She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come”.

Proverbs 31:25

Let’s take a look at other passages of Scripture to see how the word “clothed” is used. There are lots of verses in the New Testament reminding us to clothe ourselves with Christ. In Colossians 3:12 it says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with… The reason we can clothe ourselves with Christ, with compassion, kindness, and humility is that we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.

We are called out as”God’s chosen people” to put on Christ on a daily basis like we would put on a blouse we clothe ourselves with Jesus. John Piper says, “Never be without the covering of Christ.”

We put off worry, anxiety, lies and manipulation and we choose to cover ourselves with Christ.

When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalms 61:2

What do you clothe yourself with?

Clothed with Strength

Can you imagine slipping on a glorious dress of strength and dignity? As daughters of the King, we able to put on this gorgeous dress of strength and we can pair it with incomparable dignity.

This statement “She is clothed with strength” is a jolt to our weary and fearful hearts. It’s a call to rise up and claim the promises He has given to His children in His word. This is what gives us strength.

Related: She is clothed with Strength printable can be found HERE.

It’s not just any old strength that she wraps herself in but it is the strength of Christ. Throughout scripture “our strength” is connected to Christ. As I looked up the Hebrew for the word “strength” I came across various verses that focused on God as our strength.

-The Lord is my strength and my song… Exodus 15:2

-You have guided them with your strength… Exodus 15:13

-The Lord is my strength and shield my heart trust in Him… Psalms 28:7 We can count on His strength on a daily basis because our Heavenly Father does not grow weary.

The storms may prevail against us but we can stand strong because He is our strength.

And one of my all time favorites is in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”

She is also clothed with “dignity”. The word “dignity” means worthy of honor or respect. Some of us may not feel like we can walk with dignity. When God looks at us He does not see our sins and mistakes, He sees Jesus. Jesus who clothes us with His righteousness. That is why we can walk with our heads up high.

So when the winds of change, loss, sin and confusion prevail and the rain doesn’t stop beating over your heads you can stand strong. You stand strong not because “you’ve got this” or because “you’re enough” but because He is your rock and fortress– no matter what may come.

He is your refuge and strength so clothe yourselves with Christ and let it be the reason you remind yourself today–I have nothing to fear.

Our strength does not come from changed circumstances but from our unchanging God.

This is why we don’t fear the future. This is why we can laugh at the days to come because we are daughters of the King who holds all things together.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, We come to you confessing that more often than not our hearts are filled with concern about what the future holds but we want to be defined by who you are not our circumstances.

Teach us to stand strong. Remind us to hold on to what we know for certain and that is your Truth and Hope in the midst of uncertain circumstances. Strengthen our inner being Lord so we do not waver no matter what.

In your name, amen.