Do you "pray-read" the Bible?
Do you "pray-read" the Bible?
We all know how important it is as believers to read the Word and to pray. But if you're anything like me, growing up I always compartmentalized and separated my prayer and reading time. I'd read a few chapters, then close my Bible and spend a few minutes in mostly unfocused prayer before becoming distracted and bored. There was nothing sinful or wrong with the way I prayed and read, and I'm confident the Lord was well-pleased in my attempts to love Him by spending time with Him.
However, I later realized there was a much more exciting way to have a quiet time with the Lord. I would look at my Bible reading time solely as a time to learn the stories, memorize the verses, and gain greater understanding of what the passages were saying.
It is not enough to simply study the Word, but we must give our heart to God and receive from Him as we read it. We must allow it to create an active dialogue with God - it in itself is the “conversational material” the Lord has given us to interact with Him. We must actually speak the Word back to God and against Satan’s attack on our lives. Many do not speak the Word back to God or against Satan and only speak it to others. The Word of God is powerful:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
(Hebrews 4:12 NKJV)
It's not just powerful when we preach it to others - but it has power to change our own hearts as we speak it back to God.
Two truths related to pray-reading the Word
There are scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to believe” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that declare that God loves, forgives, leads, protects, or provides for us, etc. First, thank God for a particular truth. Then, turn these truths into simple declarations of thanksgiving or trust. For example, declare, “Thank You that You love me and have forgiven me. I trust that You will lead, provide and protect me." Second, we ask God to reveal and release particular truths to us. Ask God to release a spirit of revelation (Ephesians 1:17). For example, pray, “Father, reveal to me the certainty of Your provision, how much You love me, forgive me, or how I have ravished Your heart. Father, I ask You to release Your promised guidance, provision, and protection" etc.
There are also scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to obey” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that command us to bridle our tongue, serve one another, humble ourselves, give time and money to Him, etc. First, we commit ourselves to obey God in the specific way set forth in a biblical person or passage. Make simple declarations of your resolve to obey the Word or imitate the faith of the godly. For example, declare, “I set my heart to love You and obey You with my speech, time and money, etc. or, I set my heart to love you like David, endure hardship like Paul, pray like Daniel or do miracles like the apostles in the Book of Acts.” Second, we ask God to empower us to obey a particular truth or imitate the example of the godly. Ask God for help to obey in specific areas. For example, pray, “Father help me to love You, to bridle my speech, or to use my time and money in full obedience.” Pray, “lead me away from temptation (Matthew 6:13) or deliver me from the works of the evil one” (John 17:15), or, “Father, I resolve to love You more, or give me power to love you like David, endure hardship like Paul, pray like Daniel or do miracles like the first apostles.”
How this has helped me
Pray-reading the word has caused my desire to pray, read, and live righteously to increase dramatically. Some of my favorite passages to pray-read are in John 14-17. It is so easy to read the words of Jesus and to simply thank Him for a particular truth or to ask Him to help you obey or to live in the way He exhorts us to. If you're not sure where to start, start there. But really you can take any passage and find a way to pray it back to God.
Pray-reading is so simple and so powerful that anyone can do it. But at the same time it is so simple that very few actually do it. I can guarantee you that if you put this into practice in your life and do it consistently, your desires will change, your hunger for the Lord will increase, your heart will be alive like never before. It's His promise to us as we actually dialogue with Him!