The best piece of advice I ever received concerning prayer was: ‘Pray the Bible.’ I can’t remember who gave it to me, I don’t know in what context it was said, and I don’t even know how long ago I was given it. None of that matters, though, because even though my prayer life is not what it should be, it was nonetheless revolutionized by this advice. I pass this piece of advice on to you. As I do so, I offer five reasons why praying to the Bible is beneficial.

1) It develops prayer into a conversation

There is one certain way to hear God speak: open the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God. As we open the Scripture, we do so to hear from God. To hear the voice of the Lord out loud, read the Bible outloud.

This is vitally important to remember whenever it comes to prayer. Part of the struggle with prayer, at least for me, is that it often feels like a one-way conversation. I tire of talking endlessly without any response, and so I begin not to pray. Tim Keller (Prayer, p. 145) writes: “if prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.”

As we pray to the Bible, we develop prayer into a conversation. If we were to pray Isaiah 6:3, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” for example, we might begin praying by praising God that He has revealed himself to us as holy (that is He has told us something, and we are responding). In praising God for His attribute of holiness, we might then confess our sin and our unholiness (we think about what He has told us and how that impacts us). This then might provoke us to pray that we would join the mission of filling the earth with His glory because He is worth it (all that God has told us has consequences for our life).

Praying the Bible develops prayer into a two-way conversation. God speaks from His Word, we listen as we read His Word, and we respond in obedience to what the Lord has revealed in His Word. Each time we return to Scripture, God continues the discussion.

2) It helps us praise God in prayer

Consider the last prayer meeting you attended, the last time you prayed with a group of Christians, or even your previous prayer. What was the predominant content of the majority of these prayers? I would hazard a guess that the main content of most prayers is petitions, requests, and needs to be expressed.

In some respects, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Our God is our perfect Father and deeply desires that we come to Him with our necessities and worries. However, our relationship with God in prayer can soon develop into something similar to a relationship with a landlord—every time we contact, and it is to relate that something is wrong. We never phone landlords to say everything in the house is working well. So it can be with God; our propensity is to only ever tell Him about all that is wrong. When this is the case, our relationship with Him will be deficient. God is worthy of our praise and adoration. His attributes are plentiful, His goodness is abundant, and it is all contained in the Bible.

Praying the Bible will help us praise God in prayer.

3) It shapes our prayer requests in God’s will

Scripture suggests a correlation between the degree to which our minds are shaped by Scripture and the degree to which prayers are answered. It seems that the Father is more willing to grant the requests that the Son and Spirit had a hand in formulating. In John 15:7, for example, Jesus says to His disciples: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Or 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that is we ask anything according to his will, and he hears us.” The implication in these verses is that as God’s Word shapes us, we desire what God desires, therefore praying for all that God wills, and so He answers.

God has given us all we need to think biblically and pray biblically in the Word of God. Since that is true, we must ask, “What should we be praying for? What prayers will God hear and answer?” Here is a quick list:

  • We are commanded to pray for the place we live (Jer. 29:7).
  • Pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:28).
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:1).
  • Pray for more missionaries, evangelists, and gospel workers (Matt. 9:38; Luke 10:2).
  • Pray that we would not enter temptation (Luke 22:40).
  • Pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).
  • Pray for freedom to share the gospel (Col. 4:3).
  • Pray that God’s Word would take effect (2 Thess. 3:1).
  • Pray for the sick (Jas. 5:14, 16).

It is not wrong to request things, but our requests should align with God’s revealed will in Scripture. Praying the Bible will shape our prayer requests in God’s revealed will.

4) It focuses the mind on prayer

Concentration can prove problematic when it comes to private prayer, especially in today’s visual and soundbite culture. Everything that bombards our senses encourages us to flit between various things rather than focus on one thing. And yet, when it comes to prayer, this is not a new phenomenon. Christians, throughout the ages, have found concentration difficult when attempting to maintain a disciplined prayer life. Many people regard George Muller as the epitome of a prayerful Christian. Even he struggled with concentration, however. The remedy for him was praying Scripture. Listen to his own words:

formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time…But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father and Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word…Now prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season therefore when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us…Thus there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation.” (Quoted in Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, pp. 71–72)

Essentially, George Muller is saying: Praying the Bible focuses the mind in prayer. We remain focused and prayerful as we work through a passage or verses.

5) It follows the example of Scripture

Perhaps the best example of this is Acts 4. With the outbreak of persecution against Jesus’s disciples, Peter and John find themselves arrested, questioned, and released. Once they are released, go to meet with the church and pray. The Early Church prayed Scripture and is something we would do well to follow. The prayer recorded for us in Acts 4:24–30 quotes Psalm 2:1–2 in it.

Bible commentator Dale Ralph Davis calls Daniel 9 a tutorial in prayer. It is a magnificent prayer. However, notice just two things:

First, Daniel’s prayer is stimulated by Scripture. We are told in Daniel 9:2 that Daniel was reading the prophet Jeremiah and counting the 70 years of exile that had been prophesied. Equally important to this is the time frame mentioned in Daniel 9:1. This note that Darius the Mede is now king informs us that there has been a regime change. Babylon has fallen, and the Persians are in ascendency.

Daniel is looking at the circumstances and then applying Scripture to them. As he does so, he realizes that this is what Jeremiah prophesied. This is what God promised to His people through the prophet, and so we read in Daniel 9:3 that he is driven to prayer. Daniel’s prayer is stimulated by Scripture.

Second, Daniel’s prayer is structured by Scripture. Consider the final section in Daniel 9:16–19. Daniel did not only perceive that the 70 years of exile and fall of Babylon that Jeremiah prophesied were almost complete. He also remembered what God promised about the end of the exile: Israel would return to the land. Jerusalem would be populated by God’s people once more. This is precisely what he prays for as he closes his prayer—that God’s face would shine upon His sanctuary (Daniel 9:17). Dale Ralph Davis writes (Daniel, BST, p. 115), “It’s quite simple: the Lord’s promises drive his servant’s prayers. It’s as if God’s promises have Velcro on them, and our prayers are meant to “get stuck” there.” Daniel is praying the Bible.

No products in the cart.