Have you ever listened to yourself pray? You should try it sometime. It’s amazing how self-absorbed we are as we lecture God about all we need and want, as if God doesn’t already know. We use so many common Christian phrases that if we ever addressed another human being in the same fashion, we may just get a blank stare. “Dear Father Lord God etc…” “Father, Dad, Daddy, Tim etc…”
There are some of you that wish to truly know how to pray. “Where do I begin? What do I say to God Who knows all?”
I’d like to submit to you to start with the very words of Scripture as your model. I am not speaking of mere reading of a passage or doing a recitation. Jesus said in Mathew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” I am talking about enriched communion with God and His Living Word. If you wish to think the thoughts of God, you must first pray Word of God. Here are 5 points for praying God’s Word.
1. Pick A Passage
Obviously you’ve got to start somewhere. Ask the Holy Spirit what passage would best fit your current situation. Psalms and Proverbs is a great place to start since they are already prayerful in nature. I personally have been praying through Psalms 119 on my knees each morning, and it has been so refreshing!
2. Personalize Your Prayer
When you look at a verse, ask yourself, “If this passage were my prayer to God, what would it say?”
Take Psalm 119:9-11: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Your prayer could look something like this:
Oh God! I pray that you would cleanse my way. Help me to take heed to your Word in everything that I do. Help me to seek after You with my whole heart and let me not stray from Your commandments. Hide Your Word deeply within my heart, so that I will not sin against You!
What about if you’re reading a narrative? Take the principals that God illuminates to you within the story and make them yours! Remember it is a conversation with God, so talk to Him about what He is pin-pointing in your life. Profound, isn’t it?
3. Pray the Passage for Someone Else
Sometimes God doesn’t just give you something to get it, but to give it! We are so stingy sometimes aren’t we? When we find something good we immediately hide it away. The wonderful thing about our daily bread is that it can feed you and everyone else without being exhausted! You‘ll never reach the depth of His bountiful Truth.
Here are some ways you can pray for others according to God’s heart:
- Salvation for another – Acts 2:21
- Healing – Psalm 103:3,5
- Repentance for another – Luke 15 – “…he came to himself…”
4. Put it on paper
One of the greatest things I learned to do as a teenager was to journal. I still write my heart out to God almost every day, and I can assure you it does my soul good. There is something that constitutes the validity of His hand working when you write it down. It becomes real, alive to you!
I personally make it a point to not write many study notes during this time. I have other ways I study for a message or a Sunday School lesson. I try to stick to one thing, and that is my response to the Truth God has given me. Many times it is a cry for help to obey that truth. Other times I find that I can pray nothing but adoration.
Why write it down? Can’t I just pray and get on with it? Yes, but I know from own experience that my prayer journal is one of the greatest sources of encouragement. I have re-read some of my prayers from years ago that I had completely forgotten about, and it is amazing to say, “Wow! God has honored that prayer, and I forgot all about it!”
5. Practice Holy Spirit Patience
Take your time! Don’t rush the conversation. There is no need to look at the clock. God already knows what time it is, and I promise He’s not in a hurry! As you pray the passage in front of you, slow down and truly meditate on what God is saying to you. If He says to stop on the first verse, stop. If He says to keep going, keep going. Sensitivity is the key to complete obedience.