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.
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.
Why Pray Scripture?
Maybe you can relate to my story and you have prayed scripture but 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 empowering. Praying scripture is not a new concept. We see examples of it throughout all of scripture. The book of Psalms is full of prayers taken from scripture throughout God’s word.
God knows everything so with prayer it’s not like you’re telling him anything new when you talk to Him. What prayer does is invite God into the pain and 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. In prayer, I align my heart and desires to His. 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!