As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about spiritual growth in my own life and the lives of others (it’s my job), I often reflect on prayer, which is so fundamental to the life of a Christian that it’s almost a disservice to call it a spiritual “discipline;” it’s more like breathing. The unscientific and yet, I believe, reliable conclusion I have reached is that we believers massively underutilize the Scriptures in our prayer lives.
Already on the Training Resources Page we have spoken of using the Scripture to pray for someone. We’ve given you some New Testament topics for prayer, complete with Scripture references. We’ve highlighted a disciple-making lesson on prayer, which includes the concept of praying from the Scriptures. Yet, at the risk of being obnoxious, we return to this theme because it is so important and because the idea hasn’t caught on yet to the degree that it should have.
There are two primary reasons that praying according to Scripture is effective. First, when we pray according to Scripture, our prayers proceed according to the will of God, as He has expressed it in the Book. Prayers directed according to the Scriptures naturally concern items that God cares about, in keeping with His perspective, which is (very) different from our perspective. Scripture-based prayer is an accessible means of theological precision as we express ourselves to God.
The second reason Scripture-based prayer is effective is more practical than theological. We face many barriers to prayer, but one significant barrier is the sense that we don’t know how to pray or what to pray about. Though our prayers are always “off” (Romans 8:26,27), with the Bible directing our prayers we can avoid a sense of aimlessness in prayer and have confidence that we are praying in the right direction.
One great way to begin praying according to the Scriptures is to unify the Bible study and prayer time that already are part of your devotional practice. If you routinely study the Bible and pray, why not take the next logical step and make a habit of praying the results of your Bible study times? In other words, if your passage of study is Psalm 1 on a given morning, why not pray about the topics raised in Psalm 1 and the insights you’ve gleaned from it? See this article for guidance on how to do this.
Time for some comments. How have you allowed Scripture to guide your prayers?
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Each Thursday we send out our Training Resources Newsletter, which shares a new ministry tool and an encouraging story about God’s Spirit preparing someone for service.