Do you ever sit down to pray and can’t seem to find the words? Do you feel like your prayers are limited and not as effective as they could be? I believe that the most effective prayers come right from God’s word. In fact, the Holy Spirit often shows us what we should be praying for through the word.
I started praying the scriptures by accident, honestly. I’d read a passage in scripture and feel deeply encouraged or convicted, and I knew that I didn’t just want to read it and move on with my life, I wanted it to be true for me. So, I started praying the words I read in scripture and God worked through my prayer, transforming my life.
If you want to take your prayer life to a new level, I recommend praying the scriptures. If you want to find out how, keep reading!
Why is praying scripture helpful?
Before we get started, praying scripture is simply taking a passage of scripture and turning it into a prayer specific for your life or community.
Praying the scriptures is helpful because it prevents us from praying wrongly since it comes directly from God’s word (James 4:3) and it helps us to be sure that God hears us and answers our prayer (1 John 5:14-15).
4 Steps to Praying the Scriptures
1. Understand what you are reading
This is the most important step. If we don’t understand what we’re reading, we can end up twisting the scripture and praying wrongly. Before you choose a passage of scripture to pray, ask yourself what it says, what it means, and what the Holy Spirit wants you to take away from it. Let’s take Philippians 4:6-7 for example:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Related: How to Study the Bible for Beginners
It’s saying that we should not be anxious about anything but instead, give everything to God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Then it goes on to remind us that God’s peace will guard us if we choose to lay down our anxiety in prayer.
It’s meaning is clear: don’t be anxious, stressed, or worried about anything. None of it is in our hands anyway. Instead, give everything to God who is in control. When we give anxiety to God, he gives us peace that passes understanding.
Now, at this point you would sit with the Holy Spirit and ask him what he wants you to take away from this passage. What is the truth in these words that you need to cling to?
Personally, I take away the truth that I should not be anxious about anything. Sure, I submit some things to God but do I present all things to him? If I want to obey God, I should give him everything without holding back some things.
3. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you
Let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the passage. You can simply ask, Lord, what do you want me to pray about? The answer is often revealed in the areas you feel convicted, encouraged, passionate, or stirred to take action.
Keep thinking about the take away the Holy Spirit led you to. In my case, I may be thinking about the places I’m not submitting to God and the areas that I’ve allowed myself to be anxious in. I might be thinking about what it means to truly trust God and what ways I need to rest in his leading.
3. Personalize the passage
After you’ve sat with the passage for a while, personalize it. Think about what it would mean if those words were true in your life. Believe that since God has spoken them, they can be true in your life.
4. Write down your prayer or say it out loud
Finally, after you have personalized the passage, write it down or pray it out loud. Use your name or the names of people in your life and pray God’s word over them.
Here’s how I would pray Philippians 4:6-7:
Lord, I thank you that I don’t have to be anxious about anything. I thank you that I can lay every burden and every care at your feet. Instead of trying to fix my problems on my own, I thank you that I can give them to you. Thank you Lord that when I give you my anxiety and my worries, you give me your peace. Even when things may be going wrong, internally I can have peace. And Lord, help me to do this. Help me to lay these anxieties at your feet. Help me to give them to you even when I’d much rather hang on to them. Help me to trust you to do what only you can do instead of trying to do what I cannot do. Thank you Lord. Amen.
Types of prayers we can draw from Scripture
Thanksgiving – prayer is not just about asking for what we need, it also involves giving thanks to God. There are so many scriptures we can use to help us express thanksgiving to God.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.Psalm 9:1 ESV
Confession – sometimes we have sin we need to confess. Praying scripture can help you do it.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.Psalm 32:5 ESV
Praise – we can use scripture to help us praise God for his goodness.
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.Psalm 100:5 ESV
Promises – finally, we can use scripture to help us claim promises in God’s word.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.Isaiah 40:31 ESV
I hope this helped introduce you to the wonderful world of praying scripture. God’s word is so powerful! If you feel stuck in prayer or you’re just looking for new ways to pray, consider picking up your Bible and praying directly from the words you read.