For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
Welcome to week six of my series on Scripture. The first week I began with my own story about coming to the realization that Scripture is sustenance for my soul – and how I can’t do without it, even for a day.
The second week I wrote about how Scripture has restorative power and medicinal-like properties. It can cut through our defenses and discern what is really going on in our heart and soul, and bring needed healing and hope into our lives.
The third week I addressed how the words and images we are exposed to daily can sometimes have a detrimental effect on our thoughts and actions. A steady diet of the words and images in Scripture can counteract this effect and renew our mind.
On weeks four and five I began describing the ways Christians can incorporate Scripture into their lives by addressing the disciplines of reading and study. This week, I’m writing about using Scripture in prayer. (You may also want to refer to my post entitled, Prayer (ninth in a series), where I mention this topic.) https://carefulfornothing.com/2010/07/27/prayer-ninth-in-a-series/
In the journal I keep alongside my Bible I record phrases and words that I find helpful to use in my prayers. Scripture teaches me what to ask for in prayer – on my own behalf and that of others. When my neighbor recently underwent surgery I prayed that she would have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). For my son I often turn to the words in first Chronicles, chapter twenty-eight, verse twenty, and pray that he would know and trust in the Lord who will never fail or forsake him.
At times I turn to Zephaniah, chapter three, verse seventeen, and pray for my daughter that she would know how the Lord takes great delight in her, that he will quiet her with his love, and rejoice over her with singing. I quote Psalm 18 when I pray to the Lord who is “my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.” Because I recognize the power of Scripture to heal us and shape us, I ask for the rest, quietness and trust Isaiah writes about in chapter thirty, verse fifteen.
As I wrote previously, the prayers of Paul found in his letter to the Ephesians are moving and powerful and I often use them. Try turning to chapter one if you are praying for someone who needs encouragement in their faith and use Paul’s words, inserting the name of your friend: “I pray…that the eyes of ______’s heart may be enlightened in order that he/she may know the hope to which the Father has called him/her, the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints, and God’s incomparably great power for us who believe”(1:18-19).
You may want to pray for yourself, as I often do, using Paul’s words in chapter three: “…I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:17-19). I can’t think of a better gift from God to ask for.
When words of Scripture are prayed over me by someone else I sense that a profound truth has been claimed on my behalf and that I will be all the richer for it. What greater or more appropriate things can we pray for than for the promises, gifts, blessings, hope and consolation revealed to us in the Bible? Also, I find praying the words of Scripture, simultaneously with hundreds of fellow worshippers, particularly moving. Christians have been praying together from the Bible for over two millennia. Two-thirds of the words or phrases contained in the Book of Common Prayer, which I use on Sunday mornings, are from Scripture.
In the back of her book, Get Out of That Pit, Beth Moore includes a section of Scripture prayers for each day of the week which incorporate her three-step process for dealing with unhealthy and entrenched behavior patterns. In chapter six, she explains why and how to use them. She writes, “One reason Scripture is such a big help in prayer is because our challenges are often so overwhelming that we can’t think of the right words to say. Another reason is because we can shift the burden of responsibility to God and His Word rather than ultimately crumbling under the weight of it ourselves. God’s Word carries its own supernatural power. It’s His very breath on the page that, when you voice it, you release into your own circumstances (see 2 Timothy 3:16)” (p. 133). I highly recommend her book and the prayers she includes if there is something in your life holding you captive, keeping you from a life of freedom and joy through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I suggest that you, too, keep a notepad with your Bible so that when you come across an inspiring phrase or verse you can write it down and use it in prayer. Scripture can teach you how and for what to pray, so if at some point you are at a loss when it comes to prayer, just turn to your notebook and pray using what you’ve written down. Also, while reading your Bible, should you come across a verse or phrase that reminds you of someone for whom you are praying, just stop momentarily and incorporate the phrase into a prayer for that person. Then, make note of that verse for future use in prayer. You will never go wrong using Scripture as your inspiration and guide.
Next week: The habit of Scripture memorization and why it is so beneficial to our spiritual and emotional well-being.