Reading and Praying the Bible - Using Our Bible Reading Plan

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.

 

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New Sermon Series - Infinitely More: Experiencing the Holy Spirit

On Sunday, February 5 we will begin part II of our Infinitely More teaching series. For the next four weeks our hope is to spend time specifically considering the Holy Spirit in hope that God might lead us deeper into living spiritually powerful lives. 

Most of us want to have a rich and vibrant relationship with God and we want to be ever growing in that relationship. However, much of the time it feels like we get stuck and God is distant or absent altogether. No matter what we pray, how much we read the bible, or how many worship gatherings we attend it feels like nothing makes a difference.

In Ephesians 3, the Apostle Paul prays to God asking him to do infinitely more than we could ask or imagine. We believe that God can and wants to do this work in our lives individually and corporately. 

The bible teaches that, for the Christian, God is present with us but he is also alive in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Join this Sunday and for the next 4 weeks to ask God to do infinitely more in our hearts, in our church, and in our city. Invite a friend or a neighbor who needs to hear that God hasn't and will never abandon them.

What questions do you have regarding the work of the Holy Spirit that you would like us to answer in this series?

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The Hughes: Praying Big Prayers to an Even Bigger God.

This Sunday, we will wrap up our January sermon series 'Infinitely More: Praying Big Prayers to an Even Bigger God'. We pulled that language directly from Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly (infinitely more) than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." In it we are asking God to do this type of work in our church specifically in the areas of racial reconciliation, the sanctity of human life, the global church, and generosity. We are praying God uses this series to give you confidence to praying big pray of your own.

This is the story of Josh & Lindsey Hughes, a couple under age 30 with four kids (including two foster children) who attribute their expanding family to faithfulness, one big prayer, and a gracious Father behind it all. You might have seen Josh serving on Sunday, been under Lindsey’s leadership for women’s gatherings, or had the privilege of caring for their children in The Grove. The Hughes family is a humble one, but they have seen God do amazing things in their life. I had the distinct joy in speaking with Lindsey about how they got where they are, and ways she can encourage us in following Jesus into the foggy future.   

Kasey: Good morning, Lindsey! How are you this today? What are you doing now?

Lindsey: Oh, good! Its been a morning full of tantrums. I'm currently hiding in the room because they’re playing so well together right now. So if I have to drop the phone and run, that’s why. Big A is dressed up as Snow White, and Judah is loving it. And sweet little A is right here with me. 

Kasey: Haha yes, I totally understand. So, you have two kids of your own. You’ve suffered a miscarriage. You now have two foster children. I know it has been quite a journey getting to where you are now. Was there any specific prayer that started this whole thing? 

Lindsey: It really wasn’t a specific prayer, as much as it was small steps of obedience and a great amount of listening and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He guided our thoughts and path. For the last 7 years, since being married, we have been recipients of God’s grace. We have come to know His faithfulness on a raw and basic level. His faithfulness to provide in every way (financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically). We have gone through seasons of great unknown—been forced to see how utterly not in control we are, and by the grace of God, we are learning to hand back and be openhanded with what is already His. Our entire lives serve the purpose of bringing Him glory, of obeying His calling no matter the cost. Once we reached that point, we were no longer able to ignore or distract ourselves from seeking our role in some of the ‘bigger’ calls of obedience. Nothing is off the table.

Seeking our part in orphan care changed everything we knew as familiar. We were suddenly having to move to a house (that doubled our rent), we had to move the boys into the same room, and a host of other seemingly meaningless details that preceded any actual kids coming into our home. But all of the smaller moments of obedience throughout or lives and our marriage, led us to obey in the bigger moments. Our current lives look nothing like what we've ever pictured, but it has been far better (and far harder) than we ever imagined.

Kasey: What did you imagine?

Lindsey: We never imagined having 4 kids under the age of 4 in the house. Honestly, we just lived our lives a lot differently. Our perspective has shifted from “what can we get out of this life”, to “what are we called to give through our lives.” That has changed everything and I am sure it will continue to.

Kasey: Wow, I need to adopt that phrase for my own life! So, I’m curious. When did you hear the call to foster? 

Lindsey: It was a slow thing. I don’t have a specific day or time that we heard the call. We knew it was a command to care for the orphans. We had talked about adoption (as a very very future thing that could possibly might maybe be for us to do). For a season, starting around January of 2014, every sermon I heard preached or quiet time I would have with the Lord, would have me walking away thinking about nothing else except caring for orphans. During that time, conversations with complete strangers about foster care started happening, statistics and articles about the need for foster parents would catch my eye and leave me in tears with my heart pounding. I didn’t actively start seeking the Lord for our role in it for about 6 months because I thought, “Everyone feels this way, right? Everyone cares about kids like this.” 

But it just kept coming back to mind. So when I finally opened myself up to seek and ask what our role was, there just so happened to be a DFCS foster care orientation the next week. It was no commitment needed, just get some info and see what happens. So Josh and I went. And we kept walking. And we would pause when we felt the Lord was asking us to pause. And then we would move on with the next step when He moved us into it. He shut a few doors along the way, but He opened others. We wanted to make sure it was in His timing. Obedience placed on our timing is still our striving. So 2 years later (almost to the day), we welcomed the first sweet souls into our home. At this point we knew we would need the assurance that it was God who brought us here and not ourselves. I think that really is the only way we have been able to keep going when it gets incredibly difficult—we know we are where He wants us.

Kasey: Whew. That’s good. If a woman came up to you in church and said, “I have this desire. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know it’s burning within me, and I don’t know what to do with it.” What would you tell her? How can you encourage us to trust God more? 

Lindsey: Give it to the Lord. It is already His, but give it to Him. Seek clarity. Spend time in the Scriptures. Listen. Then, know that Satan will attack. He will use your greatest fears, your weaknesses, your good intentions and will confuse the heck out of you. He will distract you and isolate you. The enemy did very real things to try and deter us. It was (and still is) so important for us to remind ourselves that God is not a God of confusion. He wants us to find, know, seek, and do His will. When we genuinely lay our lives before the Lord and ask Him to grow us in His likeness and in obedience, He will start to bring clarity to your strengths, your weaknesses…the way you were uniquely created to fit into the bigger picture of bearing His image. I have the most beautiful print of Isaiah 26:3 {“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you”} on a shelf in our living room. Our minds must be stayed on Him. Everything else is secondary. Knowing truth and remembering His promises frees us to pray with open hearts and step into living lives of obedience and compassion.

Kasey: Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lindsey! I know many will be encouraged by your family’s example. I, for one, am strengthened daily by your living testimony. I pray that God will continue His work in you and will bless every little one who has the honor of entering your home. We love you! 

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