“For the word of God is living and active. . . .”Hebrews 4:12
When you pray, do you ever wonder if you’re “doing it right”? You are not alone. Even the disciples, who had spent much time with the Lord, asked Jesus to teach them to pray. When we look at the life of Christ, we see a man whose relationship with the Father infused everything He did (John 5:19-20). Jesus’ prayer life was dynamic and creative. He prayed early; He prayed late. He prayed when He was busy, when He had big decisions to make, after performing miracles, and when He was full of sorrow1. He seemed to find a compass and a comfort through conversation with the Father. He didn’t spend every moment alone with God, but He did spend every moment with God.
At times prayer may be perplexing or rote for followers of Christ. Yet, as we gaze at the glory of Christ, we will become more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). One benefit of praying Scripture is that it gives us an accurate lens through which to see Christ. This alone will enrich our conversations with God. It is also the way we hear from God in a two-way conversation. How? Using the Bible as a guide provides fresh language for prayer. As we pray God’s Word, we can have confidence God is hearing and answering, because we have greater confidence we are praying within His will (1 John 5:14-15).
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”James 5:16
Praying Scripture acknowledges the preeminence of the Bible as God’s revealed Word, and expresses faith that it has power to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts2. Praying through Scripture with a teachable, humble heart can remove roadblocks to answered prayer such as unforgiveness, lack of faith in God, wrong motives, or sin in our lives. As we read God’s Word and talk to Him about it, His Spirit will guide us in prayer.
Yet even while we can gain so much from praying Scripture, the specific words we speak are less important than the heart with which they are spoken. As John Bunyan said, it is better for our heart to be without words than our words to be without heart. What a comfort to know that in those times when we are in such distress or grief we cannot even frame words to express our need, the Holy Spirit is interceding on our behalf in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:26).
We hope this resource enriches your prayer life by providing ideas to incorporate God’s Word in your prayers. To study more about prayer, see the Stonecroft Bible Study Connecting with God: A Guide to Prayer.
Daily Inspiration to Pray
As you read and study the Bible each day, notice verses that inspire praise or prayer. Use them to praise God. Let them inspire prayer for others and yourself throughout the day. It helps to have a notebook to write down what God is revealing to you through His Word. Here is an example of how scriptural prayer flows out of our daily experiences. During her daughter’s pregnancy, a mother became very concerned about the fate of her soon-to-be-born grandchild. The baby’s mother and her husband had separated, then reunited, but were unsure whether they wanted to place the baby in an adoptive family or keep her. The grandmother’s heart was breaking with anguish over this situation. One day while praying with a friend over the phone, all she could do was weep and beg God to do His will. Her heart was filled with praise to God when her daughter and her husband decided to keep the baby! She expressed her gratefulness and joy in this prayer from Psalm 29 and 30. “Father in Heaven, we ascribe greatness, strength, and glory to You and your Holy Name! There is none like You, Lord. You are my strength and my shield, and my heart trusts in You. I exalt You, O Lord, because You lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemy win! Thank You for bringing my precious granddaughter home to her family. To us. I praise You for turning my mourning into dancing. Thank You for lifting my sorrow and giving me singing! I love You, Lord.”
- If a verse inspires you to praise or prayer, write it down.
- Keep a record of how you used it to pray for yourself or someone else.
- You may want to jot it on a 3 x 5 card and take it with you to pray throughout the day. This will help you memorize the Scripture so you can pray it anytime, anywhere.
- You can find examples of prayer in the Bible by using a concordance to look up words like pray, prayer, ask, seek, or request. You could also start with Matthew 6:9-13, often referred to as The Lord’s Prayer, and look up cross-referenced verses.
A Note about Biblical Context
As we pray through Scripture, it is important to notice the context of the passage you pray. To determine context, take time to read the verses before and after a passage you would like to use as a basis for prayer. While all Scripture is valuable for believers, some verses apply directly to each of us, while others are directed toward the nation of Israel or toward those who meet certain conditions. For example, someone might pray for healing for another, claiming Psalm 41:2-3. “The Lord will protect him and preserve his life. . . . The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.” However, the context from verse 1 says, “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.” This promise is made to the person who has been considerate of those weaker than him or herself. There are many biblical examples of prayers for healing that might apply more directly to that situation. (See Supplication below).
We may, however, apply biblical principles in basing our prayers on specific verses. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 states, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” What a wonderful promise! God has hopeful plans for my future! This passage is written to the nation of Israel. Does that mean we may not pray, “Lord, thank You for the wonderful plans you have for my life”? Certainly not! There are other Scriptures that speak about purpose and a future for us as God’s children. Romans 8:28 is one verse that speaks of God’s good purposes for us. Other examples are Philippians 2:13 and Psalm 57:2.
Names of God
The names of God used in the Bible help us understand the many aspects of His character. God’s names represent His attributes, His nature, and all the ways He relates to us. Using these names in prayer causes us to draw closer to the One who knows us intimately and loves us unconditionally.
This list is given to enhance your times of worship, but it is by no means exhaustive. In your own personal times of study, make note of the names and attributes of God you discover. Incorporate those into your times of prayer as you express your trust in the name of the Lord our God!
El Shaddai—Lord God Almighty
El Elyon—the Most High God
El Roi—The God who Sees
El Olam—The Everlasting God
Jehovah M’kadesh—The Lord who Sanctifies
Jehovah Rohi—The Lord my Shepherd
Jehovah Shammah—The Lord is Present
Jehovah Rapha—The Lord Our Healer
Jehovah Shalom—The Lord of Peace
Jehovah Tsidkenu—The Lord Our Righteousness
Jehovah Jireh—The Lord will Provide
Jehovah Nissi—The Lord Our Banner
Jehovah O’saynu—The Lord Our Maker
Jehovah Sabaoth—The Lord of Hosts
Elohay Mishpat—God of Justice
Elohay Selichot—God of Forgiveness
Elohay Mikarov—God who is Near
Elohay Mauzi—God of my Strength
Elohay Tehilati—God of my Praise
Elohay Yishi—God of my Salvation
El HaNe’eman—The Faithful God
El Emet—The God of Truth
Immanuel—God with Us
Prince of Peace
Lamb of God
Alpha and Omega
Author of Life
Bread of Life
Bright Morning Star
Great High Priest
King of Kings
Way, Truth, and Life
Light of the World
Resurrection and Life
Shepherd of our Souls
Wisdom of God
Word of God