One book that continues to resonate with me and impact my life, particularly my prayer life, is Donald Whitney’s book Praying the Bible. Even though I had prayed many Bible passages in the past, his book encouraged me to pray more from the Scriptures, especially the Psalms.
One of my goals for next year is to pray through the Bible as I read. I’d like to share with you what that will look like, give you some examples of how to pray passages of Scripture, and tell you about something new happening here on the blog next year.
Praying through the Bible
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about prayer and Bible study and shared how they are “The 2 Essential Means of Christian Growth.”
In that post, I said that while both require discipline, I believe one or the other usually comes easier for each of us and the other not so much. I confided that prayer is the one that requires greater discipline on my part. Perhaps that’s why I’ve read so many books on prayer and why Donald Whitney’s book Praying the Bible impacted me so greatly.
Even so, I have not used the principles he shared nearly as often or as faithfully as I would like. One of my goals for next year is to, with God’s help, spend more time praying God’s Word.
So, today I’d like to share with you some examples of praying the Bible and something new I’ll be adding to the blog in 2018. I’m excited about it because it’s partly selfish as it’s part of my plan to keep me on track and accountable. I pray it will be a blessing to you, as well.
Not My Will
We’ve all heard the adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” or the Christian version, “Be careful what you pray for.”
That makes me think about Hezekiah. He was one of Israel’s rare good kings. The Bible says he did, “what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20).
He cleaned out the temple after his father, the wicked King Ahaz, had nailed it shut. He tore down the pagan altars, destroyed the idols, and reinstated the priesthood and temple worship.
When faced with destruction from the Assyrians, he prayed one of the most incredible prayers in the Bible. 2 Kings 19:15-19:
15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”
God answered that prayer in a dramatic way.
But later in his life, Hezekiah became very sick. Through the Prophet Isaiah, God told him to set his life in order that he was going to die. Yet, when he prayed, God gave him another 15 years (2 Kings 20.1-7).
Unfortunately, the last 15 years of his life were marked by a lack of wisdom that cost the nation and his descendants greatly. He, also, fathered Manasseh, the son who succeeded him. Manasseh turned out to be the most wicked king to reign over Judah (2 Kings 20.12-19).
I didn’t share all that to imply, we shouldn’t pray for God’s mercy when faced with sickness or other trials. God certainly could have said “no” to Hezekiah’s request. But our prayers will always be imperfect and sometimes out of step with God’s best. So, it’s important to hold those prayer requests in an open hand and maintain the same attitude Christ had in the Garden of Gethsemane, “nevertheless, not my will but Yours, Lord.”
Praying God’s Perfect Will
Yet, when we pray God’s Word, properly understood, we can know that we are praying God’s perfect will. Isaiah said:
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Is. 55.11).
I say properly understood because even as we pray the Scriptures, we need to remember there are passages relating to specific people and circumstances that are not God’s specific will for everyone. No matter how much you pray for a virgin birth or for the sun to stand still, it’s probably not going to happen. Those were special moves of God’s hand in His story of redemption. So it’s important for us to understand a verse in its context.
But when we pray passages relating to spiritual growth and God’s principles for living, we can be sure we’re praying according to God’s will.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 Jn. 5.14-15).
How to Pray the Scriptures
If you’ve never tried praying God’s Word back to Him, you may wonder exactly how to do it. I don’t want to imply that there are rules, but sometimes it helps to have some practical examples. Continue reading