Praying the Bible is praying the words of the Bible as your prayer. God’s words become the content of your conversation with him. You say his words back to him, and as you do, you tap into the ancient words that are alive. And when you do, you connect with the generations before you who prayed God’s Word.
You pray like Joshua. Joshua was the leader who took over for Moses on the Israelite’s forty-year exodus out of slavery and into destiny. The former slaves were on their way to the Promised Land. Before Moses died, he appointed Joshua as the new leader to guide the million or so people to their inheritance. This was no easy task, so young Joshua depended on God’s guidance.
What does God say as he passes the baton? His advice is very interesting. I mean, a million people walking in the desert, a million who are prone to grumbling and idolatry, who at times want to go back to slavery. God, please say something good because Joshua needs you.
Here's what God says: "Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night." (Joshua 1:8)
God's Word—This would be the key to entering the Promised Land and receiving the inheritance.
When you pray the ancient words, you feel the mantle of Joshua. You see him standing before the masses and the enemies, facing the journey ahead. The living words are on his lips and on your lips, and you both overcome.
When you pray the Bible, you grip the sword that divides soul and spirit. It’s heavy in your hand because it contains eternity. You sense the spiritual lives of your forefathers who uttered and growled and spoke the living words. They gathered, dispersed, and then came back together. The breath between them was the air of the ancient and alive.
David Kopp writes, “The Bible is a ready-made prayer book for God's family. We 'pray the Bible' when we use passages of Scripture to form prayers, or when we say the verses directly back to God, making them our petitions.” (Praying the Bible for Your Life)
Here are four ways to pray the Bible:
To mediate on the Bible, first choose a section of Scripture and then turn your thoughts to God. Begin reading slowly, out loud. Others have called this pray-reading. Pay attention to the words that stick out, screaming for you to pick them, so you do.
Pause at those words that blink like neon signs and let them work. The living Word of God surges in your spirit. You hover over them and wait to see what happens. You might see an image or settle on a thought. You might hear God speaking to your heart. When you feel released from each situation, move on. But not until then. Don’t concern yourself with speed or completion of the passage.
For example, you choose Psalm 34:18, which says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” You pray, “Lord, you are close to the brokenhearted.”
You stop at the word brokenhearted, remembering times when you were brokenhearted. This causes you to cry out and ask for God’s comfort for the brokenhearted because you needed his comfort when you were brokenhearted. And so do they.
You can also pray the Bible by making it personal. The Bible is, after all, God’s Word to you. Simply insert, “God, you said,” into verses that contain God’s commands or promises, replacing the pronouns to make it work. For example: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). You make it personal by praying, “God, you said to have no other gods before you.”
Or “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17). You make it personal by praying, “God, you said that you are with me and are mighty to save.”
You also insert the name of a person into a verse, such as John 3:1, which says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” To pray this verse for your friend Marcus Petarkus, you pray, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on Marcus, that Marcus should be called a child of God!”
You can create a Bible mash-up prayer. A song mash-up is a combination of songs that are laid seamlessly back-to-back. You can do the same with Bible verses. Instead of praying one passage, stitch together related Bible verses to form a Bible mash-up prayer.
Pick a topic, say humility, and string together verses about humility. “God, you ask why do we look at the speck in our brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in our own eye? You ask why do we look down on our brother? We know that when we judge others, we will be judged with the same measure we use. We will all stand before your seat in judgment. God, you oppose the proud but give grace to the humble. Convict us of our pride, Lord, and lead us to humility.” (Matthew 7:2–3; Romans 14:10; James 4:6)
Or marriage: “God, you say that a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. You say that he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Surely a wife is a lily among the thorns, and a husband is an apple tree among the trees of the forest. They will become one, apple tree and lily, husband and wife. A cord of three is not easily broken—the husband, the wife, and Christ.” (Ephesians 5:31–32; Proverbs 18:22; Song of Songs 2:2–3; Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Another way to pray the Bible is to move through a list. You have a shopping list, a bucket list, a birthday list, and a “honey do” list, so what’s another list? But this one helps you pray the Word of God.
You make a list of the names of Jesus in the Bible, such as:
You pray the list, saying, “Jesus, you’re the bread of life. You sustain me and fill my hunger. You are tasty to my soul and have risen.”
Or you may make a list of the characteristics of God:
Then you pray, “God, you are wise. You know what you’re doing. You teach me in the right time and answer my prayers perfectly.”
Another type of list is composed of identity statements directly from Scripture, describing who you are in Christ. You think this would benefit you because you’re not sure who you are. You’ve let others define you, but now you want God to define you.
You want to know what God thinks of you so you can live by his definition:
You pray, “God, I’m your child. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You have a plan and want the best for me. You’re my father and lavish your love on me.”
Have you ever prayed the Bible or is this new to you?
Have you ever been in a situation when you didn’t know what to pray? How would praying the Bible have helped you?
How is the church the people of the Word?
Think of a dilemma that someone is facing. What Scriptures can you pray?
What are some benefits of praying the Bible?
What are some ways to pray Scripture?
Which one do you want to try?
Want to explore salvation, intimacy with God, and impact on the world through the lens of the Enneagram?