“There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying,” declared a 20th Century preacher. So how can we be sure we’re not just saying prayers, but praying?
In the previous two posts we’ve considered having a morning ritual of meeting with God in the quiet. We’ve surveyed the six musts of how to prepare and spend time with the Lord. In this post, let’s consider praying, and not just praying prayers. The greatest way is praying Scripture.
Why is praying God’s word a wonderful means of prayer? God promises that He is watching over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). God declares His word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). As we pray God’s word, God’s word penetrates us more deeply (Hebrews 4:12). To pray God’s word is to pray God’s will. Praying God’s word moves us to pray timely truths and promises that we may otherwise overlook. Praying God’s word assures that we are not mindlessly saying prayers, but praying.
Approach the Scripture with the below questions and statements to direct you. We’ll use Psalm 23 as our text for this post.
* What is God saying about God?
Per Psalm 23, God is Shepherd, Satisfier, Leader, Rest-giver, Restorer, Promise-keeper, Comforter, Conqueror, Protector, Victor, Pursuer. He provides resources for courage, confidence, and security. He is intimate, good, righteous, and merciful. He is home.
* What is God saying about me?
According to Psalm 23, deep down I am unsatisfied, needy, lost, confused, weary, fractured, lonely, afraid. I lack courage and confidence. I have enemies (spiritual and otherwise) who want to do me harm. I am exposed and unable to see things as they really are. On my own, I have no protection. Yet God loves me. God protects me. God pursues me with his goodness and mercy every single day of my life. God wants me.
* Talk to God about God.
Now take all that God has revealed about Himself and praise Him for it! Which apply most to your life right now? Now, hush. And just “be” before Him. Allow who God is to be the warm blanket to your soul. Open yourself to what He wants you to know most about Him in the moment.
* Talk to God about me.
Take all that God has revealed about you and admit it to Him. Which most apply to your current situation(s)? Confess it fully before Him. Allow what He’s revealed about you to be covered and redeemed by what He’s revealed about Himself.
* What must I do (regarding what God said about God and about me)?
You can never leave an intimate time with God the same. Ever. Where must you repent? What promise can you claim? What truth helps your unbelief? Who must you apologize to? Forgive? What people do you need to stop fearing? And on and on.
The popular “A.C.T.S.” (Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.) is also a great way to pray Scripture. Whatever you do, guard against approaching God with a prayer formula. Only let it be your guide to intimate communion with Him.
Is this helpful? Do you pray Scripture? Do you follow “A.C.T.S.”? What is your approach? How do you guard against prayer becoming formulaic?