How to Pray Scripture
Be Encouraged! Grab the Prize!
Praying scripture is not new. St Augustine has many entries in his writings that are prayers developed from scripture. In fact, Augustine meditated on and prayed with scripture to such an extent that even his own writings took on a scriptural style.
St Ignatius of Loyola was transformed from a zealous military man to a formidable soldier for Christ. By meditating on and praying over the lives of the saints and scripture, Ignatius became a new man. This occurred while he was bedridden with war wounds. After his transformation he went on to lay out the “Ignatian” method of contemplating and praying Scripture.
So how do we make this leap into Scripture prayer?
(If you have not read the intro to pray scripture, I encourage you to do that before going on!)
For those of us who grew up with the memorized prayer of our particular church families, praying scripture at first seems odd. Our brains do not have comfortable grooves for scripture prayer. We do have a learning curve here, but a pleasant and fruitful one.
In this learning process, there is no need to grit our teeth or whiten our knuckles in holding on until the end where we win the prize. No matter where we are on the learning curve, every moment spent in prayer and scripture secures a prize.
• You are energized by the life that is in the Word.
• You are transformed by being in the presence of God in prayer – these are priceless rewards!
Freedom and fluency in praying scripture comes with time and practice. Even if you have only one prayer (any prayer) tucked in your heart that will rise up when needed, like this one:
“Oh Lord, I know that You cause all things to work out to the good for those who love you. I love You and I am persuaded that You are working out the details of this distressing situation for my good and to show Yourself powerful on my behalf… confirming Your Covenant with me through Christ Jesus. Therefore, I walk forward in strength and confidence. Alleluia!” (author adapted from Romans 8:28, Romans 6)
With just one scripture prayer, you are spiritually wealthy. You will use the prayer many times in many different circumstances.
Pray Scripture: Some Practical Suggestions As you experience the fruit of one prayer, you are encouraged to pursue further scriptures for prayer. Do this in a number of ways:
1. Pray with others who pray scripture – You can get a feel for the sound and the flow of it…sense the anointing of it. There is nothing like being with someone who rises up in a Holy Spirit anointing on a scripture prayer. They will take you with them right into the presence of God. Your spirit will be as transfixed in prayer as the one who is praying aloud!
2. Listen to and pray with tapes or CD’s of scripture prayers - An advantage to the recorded prayer is that you can replay it all you want. The prayers that particularly stir your spirit are charged with life for you. You’ll probably repeat these until the prayers are in your memory bank. Other prayers, that you hear often, will move you to further prayer that is personal and powerful.
I've developed two resources to help with the process of becoming comfortable with praying Scripture: No Storm Too Great! is a CD set of two prayer CDs based on Psalm 91: healing and peaceful, charged with faith. Prayer Affirmations for the Journey will help you to keep your mind set on empowering truth from Scripture.
3. Sing Scripture – Pray your scripture with song! Choose a verse that you have been meditating on. Put it to a melody you already know or just sing it free-form. Sing it over and over. See what kind of effect it has on you. This is a pretty effective way out of a funk!
4. Make it personal – Put “I” and “me” into the Scripture. For instance, “Lord, You are the Good Shepherd and I hear Your voice. The voice of a stranger I will not follow. (Jn 10: 27)
5. Put someone else’s name in the Scripture – “Lord, bless George and keep him. Let your face, your favor shine upon him. Be gracious to him, O God, and give him peace.” (Num 6:24-26)
6. Read books of scripture prayers - Now there are many fine books of scripture prayers on the market. The prayers are usually organized by theme and have the scriptures referenced so you can do further study.
Of the books available, the series I’ve most used is the “Prevail” series by Cliff Richards. His books include lots of prayer with a key thought and a key scripture introduction…great for getting you focused. You could take Richards’ prayers and scripture references, and actually do a good Bible study on any of his themes. Both Prevail Volume I and Prevail Volume II have an excellent instruction on prayer with great quotes from prayer giants of years past. I’ve given case-loads of these books away to encourage people just getting started on this path. It has blessed my heart to see how many of those folks carry the “Prevail” books and use them to the point of the book needing a new binding.
7. Mine the scriptures on your own – In my young years, before wonderful books of scripture prayer were available, I was exposed to The New Testament from 26 Translations and The Old Testament Books of Poetry from 26 Translations.
Finding a particular verse that had meaning for me, I’d read down through the several translations of that verse – one translation after the other, same verse. This may sound monotonous, but it was actually electrifying. I would read down through the lines…slowly…and repeatedly.
At some point I know (and you will know) that the cup runneth over. This deep drink is a fine spiritual thirst quencher.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was meditating on scripture in the ”hagah” sense. And the scriptures I repeated over and over were rooting (engrafting) into my heart.
8. Use pre-recorded Scripture prayer - No Storm Too Great gives you 14 tracks of prayer based on Psalm 91...enough prayer to cover 2 weeks. Find peace and a deepening faith as you learn to pray Scripture through immersion. Prayer Affirmations for the Journey helps move you into the forward-moving, power-thinking of God. These are dynamite tools even if you are a veteran of prayer!
Scripture Prayer Applied
Encouraged by this early experience, I determined to learn to pray Scripture. I began gathering scripture around the “fear not” theme…from several translations, of course. At times when fretting interfered with sleep, I would get up and pray through those scriptures until the peace and strength of God overwhelmed my anxiety.
I remember getting up one morning at 3:00AM. I was stressed and way over my head with a project that began at 7:30AM that morning.
By 5:00AM I was persuaded, “ I can do all things through Christ Jesus who is strengthening me. And…If You, Lord, are for me, who could possibly be against me? Of whom should I be afraid?” (scripture prayer by author)
.......My testimony about me was the same as the Lord’s testimony about me! The anxiety was gone. Christ in me was big!
The project was phenomenally successful and the trophy sits in heaven….but, that’s a story for another day.
Whatever methods you use, press forward in you scripture work remembering what Pastor John Quigly of Great Harvest Ministries says, “His Word in my mouth is a powerful weapon that gives victory in the day of conflict.”
pray scripture: good intro to the topic
• Finding Rhema: God’s Spoken Word to You
• No Storm Too Great!: Scripture prayer based on Ps 91; peaceful, healing; 2CD set
* Confession of Faith: Understand the dynamic of praying Scripture
- Prayer Affirmations for the Journey: a single CD filled with confessions of faith on key topics
- The Names of God: several lists containing Names by which God has revealed Himself in Scripture - powerful prayer resource