May 03, 2020 | Prayer | Spiritual Disciplines by Jason Hall
Donald Whitney has written a little book called Praying the Bible that I have found remarkably helpful in my own prayer life. It is simple, straightforward and unpretentious. While Whitney is certainly not the first to write about letting Scripture shape your prayers, his book is easy to understand and put into practice.
Praying the Bible allows our prayers to be shaped by the Word of God, and it is especially helpful in avoiding repetition in our prayers. All of us can get into a prayer rut, so to speak, such that we’re mindlessly praying the same things we prayed yesterday.
So how to pray the Bible? Here’s what Whitney recommends:
- Pick a psalm to pray through (you can certainly pray any passage of Scripture, but the psalms work best. They were written in response to God’s grace, which is the essence of prayer).
- As you read, pray what comes into your mind as a response to what you’ve read. So if you’re praying through Psalm 23, and you read the line, “I shall not want,” maybe you thank God that you are not going hungry. Maybe you then ask Him to provide the finances for the car repair you know you need. You can pray for a brother and sister in need, and so forth. When you’ve finished with all that’s in your mind, move on to the next verse and do the same thing.
Keep moving through the psalm, praying what comes to your mind with each verse, until you run out of psalm or you run out of time. If you come across a verse that you don’t understand, just move on to the next one. If you can’t think of anything to pray for a particular verse, move on to the next one.
Notice there are not a lot of rules here, and that’s OK. Allow room for the Holy Spirit of God to work in your heart. Whitney writes, “I have enough confidence in the Word and Spirit of God to believe that if people will pray in this way, in the long run their prayers will be far more biblical than if they just make up their own prayers.”