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Praying the Bible

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Praying The BibleIN THE BEGINNING
When I was a teenager in a teen bible study, my teacher had us take our Bibles, open to 1 Corinthians 13 and starting at verse 4 until verse 7 she had us cross out the words “love” and “it” and then above these words write our own names. Then she had us read these to ourselves. This is the first time I can ever remember the Bible becoming really real to me. As I read “Corinne is patient; Corinne is kind….” I knew deep within my heart that I really wasn’t and I needed God to do much more work.

Praying the Bible is a wonderful way for the Bible to become personal rather than just a book that sits on our shelves getting dusty. It also helps us learn how to pray and discover some really wonderful things about God.

There is an ancient saying in Latin that is Lex Credini, Lex Orandi….Lex Orandi, Lex Credini. This saying basically means “what I believe, I pray and what I pray I believe.” Prayer is the gift that God gives to us to talk with Him; but the way we understand God influences the way we approach God, talk with God and love God. As we pray our understanding of God deepens, and this helps us learn how to pray at a deeper level.

One of the traps we can often fall into in our prayers is what I call “honey to-do-list” prayers. We come up with a whole pile of things we need God to do for us, or to help us with, and we sit down, close our eyes, rattle off the list and before spending any real time with God we exit the prayer, and carry on with the rest of our day. We have not enjoyed any real time in the presence of God; we haven’t stayed around long enough to hear God speak with us, all we have done is off-load our needs and moved on. If we had a friend who only ever called us to tell us what s/he wanted us to do, after a while as we see his/her name and picture show up on our cell’s screen, we might stop answering the call. That is because friendships and relationships are a two-way street, they involve giving and taking, and they involve listening. Praying the Bible is a wonderful way to help us stay with the Lord, to listen to Him while we are praying, and to help us move away from treating God like a Walmart store that answers all our needs, to developing a deeper, humbling, life-changing relationship with Him.

Throughout the ages “the Church has taught the faithful to pray by praying the Bible. No denomination of the Church has ever questioned this time-honoured method…..Virtually every famous Christian through the ages has preached and practiced praying the Bible.” There are many wonderful heroes of the faith who over the centuries have drawn closer to God by praying His word, but even more important than these individuals, is that Jesus modeled this very discipline for us.

JESUS DID IT
When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he spoke scriptures that helped him withstand temptation. For example, in Luke 4:4 when Jesus has been asked to turn stones into bread he answers with “One does not live by bread alone….” This response is taken from Deuteronomy 8:3 which says “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord…” Or for example, when Jesus was dying on the cross he cried out a prayer to God “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), this prayer is taken from Psalm 22:1.

WAYS TO DO IT
There are many ways to pray the bible, but here are four that have been very useful to me.

1. Replace A Name
When you first start praying the Bible, a great place to start is actually praying the prayers that are written in Scripture. For instance, Paul wrote prayers in his letters to the churches. If you look at Ephesians 3:14-20, there is a prayer written to strengthen the readers’ faith. If each time you see the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ you replace it with your own name, you will pray a prayer asking God to strengthen your faith. You can also do this for other people. For example, if I were to pray this prayer for my husband I would pray, ‘please “strengthen Steven’s inner being with power through your Spirit…”’

2. Lectio Divino
As you get more comfortable praying the prayers in the Bible, you can actually use other passages to start your prayers. The Lectio Divino method in a nut-shell is letting scripture read us. You take a passage and read it through once, then read it again, then read it again. After a while you start noticing that certain words keep standing out. Then you pause and ask God “what are you saying to me in this word?” “Why are you causing this word to stand out?” The amazing thing is that God will answer, and a real conversation will begin.

3. Prayer Walks
At our Beaver Creek camp we have been blessed with beautiful trails, and I love using these trails as a way to pray. As I move through a passage, and walk, and reflect, God speaks in an amazing way. For instance, the story of Joseph goes from Genesis 37 to 55. There are times when he is arrogant, when he suffers by being sold into slavery and being falsely accused, but he eventually triumphs when the Lord raises him up as a leader, and he forgives his brothers. As we pray this story we can focus upon times in our lives we have been proud, times when we have suffered or been overlooked, times when there are people we need to forgive. This story is a great way to discover that there are many ups and downs in our journey, but the Lord is there and remains faithful.

4. The Names of God
Another wonderful way to pray the Bible is to pray the names that God gives to us in the Bible…. Names like:
 YHWH NISSI (The Lord is my Banner) – ask God to fight your battles; 
JEHOVAH JIREH (The Lord provides) – ask God to provide your needs; 
JEHOVAH ROI (The Lord is my Shepherd) – ask God to give you comfort

The Bible is a gift that God has given to us to speak with us, to teach us and to guide us. Our God loves us so much that He has revealed himself to us through His word. As you read His word you open yourself up to get to know Him more, and as you pray His word, you use the language He has given to you to speak with Him, and it is absolutely amazing the way He answers!

RESOURCES
Downloads:
Pray The Bible [.pdf 200kb] – a guide sheet to tuck into your bible

Websites:
Names of God

Books:
Eat This Book – by Eugene Peterson
Life In All Its Fullness – by Michael Forster
Praying The Bible – by Wesley and Stacey Campbell
* plus anything by Jill Briscoe or Joyce Huggett

:: by Corinne Cameron of Manitoba

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