“Sometimes prayer feels like you are saying the same old things about the same old things.”
I vividly remember Dr. Don Whitney sharing this sentiment in my class on spiritual disciplines back in seminary. The reason it stuck with me is because I had always felt this way about prayer but had never voiced it. In that lecture he introduced our class to the discipline of praying through the Scriptures. To this day, no other discipline has formed and shaped my prayer life more. In fact, it is probably the discipline I have most often shared and taught to others because of its simplicity and practicality.
A great place to start is in the Psalms since they are a collection of prayers. Now, rather than just praying the Psalms word for word, let God’s Word serve as the guide and framework for your prayers. For instance, if you are praying through Psalm 103, you don’t need to simply repeat verbatim “Bless the LORD, O my soul…” but you can put David’s words into your own words and in a way that relates to what is going on in your life.
“Lord, in this moment I don’t feel like blessing your name. And yet I know that is the very thing that I need. So I ask in this moment that you would instill within my soul the desire and ability to bless your name in all things.”
I could go on and provide other methods, but instead I will offer one (mercifully) short resource and share an example of personalizing a prayer based on another Scripture.
The resource is a small book by Dr. Don Whitney that is simply entitled Praying the Bible. It is a great book with very practical suggestions on how to engage the Scriptures through prayer.
As an example of how to do this, I will share what a member of our church created for a Sunday morning a while back. She used 1 Peter 4:8-11 as her text and broke it up into smaller sections. She then wrote a brief prayer that was based on each text.
1 Peter 4:8-11
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Heavenly Father, let us continue to have a genuine love for those around us, friends and enemies alike, so that all that arises from conflict will not affect us, and our walk with you will not be hindered.
9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
Lord, we ask that our spirits will delight in generosity, that we will look to serve and support those around us who are struggling. Let our spiritual gifts be used to their fullest extent to serve each other, and to bring glory to you.
11a whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—
We ask you, our loving Creator, to continue to fulfill our physical, mental, and spiritual needs so that our focus can be on using our gifts to glorify you and to bless our community. We receive every good thing through you and are only strengthened through your grace. Let humility always cover us.
11b in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In everything, let our will always be bent to you, God. It is only in you that we receive anything, and it is only through you that we live lives full of grace and love. It is well with our souls, to you everything and more. Let it be so. In Christ’s name and for His glory we pray. Amen.
I encourage you to find some time this week to select a Psalm or maybe a prayer in the New Testament and engage the discipline of praying the Scriptures. What I hope you will find is a renewed freshness to your prayer life and a greater grasp of God’s Word.