Our church just finished a month long sermon series on prayer. I don't know about you, but part one of the 'Infinitely More' series has me encouraged and eager to pray big prayers to God.
But, it's confession time: I'm bad at prayer.
And for the sake of clarity, when I say I'm bad at prayer what I mean is that I'm no good at praying. I don't pray as regularly as I should and when I pray it often tapers off much sooner than I would hope. I get distracted, remember all the things I 'need' to do, and I run out of things to say quickly.
One of the best ways that I have found to combat this and to grow in prayer is to pray the Bible.
Praying the Bible means that as we read we listen to the words of God and respond with what He stirs in our hearts and minds. When we let the Bible guide our prayer and set the tempo of our conversations with God our prayers will be more biblically faithful. When we pray the Bible we don't have to worry of running out of things to say. The Bible will prompt us to pray things we wouldn't think to pray otherwise.
If we are going to pray the Bible we must first be reading the Bible. There are all sorts of reasons why we read the Bible but our primary motivation should be to enjoy God. The Bible is the inspired word of God. As we read His words we hear directly from Him. We learn about who He is, what He is doing in the world, and what He has done in our lives. Jesus says in John 15:7, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you".
There is a connection between reading the Bible and praying. Because when we read about God it shouldn't just be an intellectual process, even though, it is right and good to think about and consider the character and nature of God. Our God is relational. He isn't absent. He created us with His image and sent His son to dwell with us. So, when we interact with the Bible we should be stirred to interact with God himself.
Christians should be reading and praying. And in that we are hearing from and talking to our God because this is the type of relationship He has initiated with us.
But, this is all easier said than done.
Many of us aren't praying because we aren't reading. And, we aren't reading because we aren't praying. God is speaking but we aren't listening to Him.
This is where our bible reading plan comes in. My encouragement to you would be to work this into the regular rhythm of your day. Do it first thing before anything or anyone else is tugging at your time and attention. Make it a habit to read your Bible and to listen and respond to the voice of God before you hear from anything else. What would happen if we went to the words of God before Facebook? What all could God do in and through us if we were more tuned into His voice than the news of who won the game the night before?
But, how do you pray the Bible?
You can pray any part of the Bible but some books and chapters are easier to pray than others.
For example: Matthew Ch. 1 is a list of the genealogy of Jesus Christ before and after God's people were taken from their homes and into exile by the Babylonians. That may mean nothing to you or it may mean a lot depending on how well you know your Bible. But, no matter where you are on that spectrum, you can pray Matthew 1. Praying the Bible is listening and responding to God. You read, and you listen, and you respond in prayer. So, when you read Matthew 1 if you think about how specific it is with each name listed and you are reminded of how God knows each of us specifically and by name you can pray this way, "God thank you that you know me and that you are with me". Or maybe you read that but struggle to believe it is true. If thats you, pray like this, "God I know your Word says that you know me specifically but I am having a hard time believing that right now because of _________. Help me to believe that is true about me".
I think some of the easiest chapters in the Bible to do this with are the Psalms. And wouldn't you know it that just so happens to be the book we are reading together as a church this year.
This week (Jan 29 - Feb 4) our bible reading plan has us in Psalms 10, 11, & 12. Have you read it yet? If so, read it again and listen to what God is saying, then respond in prayer. If not, set aside some time soon to give it a shot. My guess it will help you as it has me.
Leave a comment of what God is saying to you in/through Psalm 10, 11, or 12.