Five Benefits of Praying From the Bible

Over the last two decades I’ve known the incredible joy of leading scores of prayer experiences that we call “Prayer Summits.” These are multi-day gatherings, usually away at some kind of retreat center, featuring unscripted, Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based prayer. (Some have suggested that we call them “Bible Summits” because of the centrality of God’s word in prompting and guiding most of the prayers.) The life-changing power of these experiences is rooted in the experience of praying the entire time with opened Bibles.

(If you want to experience the power of a Prayer Summit we hope you will join us in Northern California on February 18-20, 2021. For more information, CLICK HERE.)

How Effective Are Your Prayers?

John Piper has said, “Where the mind is not brimming with Scripture the heart is seldom brimming with prayer.” In his autobiography, George Mueller describes how for many years he did not begin his prayers in the Bible and confessed that his mind wandered. He goes on to testify that once he learned to pray from the Bible he was able to pray effectively for decades to follow.

“Where the mind is not brimming with Scripture the heart is seldom brimming with prayer.” John Piper

By conviction and experience I have concluded that the most creative and effective prayers spring from the inexhaustible treasury of the word of God. Thousands of times I have watched the Bible expose hearts, guide language, unite diverse interests, and create powerful moments of remarkable spiritual impact.

Five Practical Benefits of Praying from the Bible

1. Adoration

Jesus commanded us not to “heap up empty phrases” in our prayers but to always begin our with expressions of reverence (Matthew 6:7-9). We gain compulsion and clarity for our worship as our eyes and hearts are opened to the character, works, and glory of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

 2. Articulation

Sometimes the weariness of our minds, the weight of our burdens, and the complexity of our situation leave us without proper words in our prayers. The living and powerful word of God can illuminate our deepest thoughts and give us language for communion with God. The early church, under the burden of intense persecution, gathered to pray. Their first words were straight from the Scriptures (Acts 4:23-26).

Finding our language in Scripture in our personal prayer times brings focus and energy to our prayers. In a corporate setting it allows everyone to discover an entry point. The Bible provides meaningful handles for mature saints and struggling neophytes. It is a wonderful thing to observe this dynamic. This is at the heart of teaching people how to truly pray.

Sometimes the weariness of our minds, the weight of our burdens, and the complexity of our situation leave us without proper words in our prayers. The living and powerful word of God can illuminate our deepest thoughts and give us language for communion with God.

3. Alignment

In normal interaction with others we know that whoever starts a conversation tends to guide the conversation. If our prayers are to reflect God’s will, wisdom, and kingdom purposes, we need to let Him start our prayer conversation from the Scriptures. First John 5:14 states, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” God’s word is His will and praying from the Bible aligns our thoughts and requests with His. We have deeper assurance in our praying when we start in the Scriptures.

In normal interaction with others we know that whoever starts a conversation tends to guide the conversation. If our prayers are to reflect God’s will, wisdom, and kingdom purposes, we need to let Him start our prayer conversation from the Scriptures.

Of course, it is important for us to share our hearts with God when we pray. However, it is primary and essential that we allow Him to share His heart with us. This happens as we pray, first and foremost, from His word.

Of course, it is important for us to share our hearts with God when we pray. However, it is primary and essential that we allow Him to share His heart with us. This happens as we pray, first and foremost, from His word.

4. Application

I’ve learned that the best way to apply the Bible is to pray it. When we pray the word of God, not only is our mind focused on inspired truth but our heart is engaged in an intimate exchange with the God of the word. I often explain that prayer is the commitment to open our Bibles to have a conversation with the Author, who lives in us to explain what He meant by what He said, so that we can experience intimacy, transformation, direction, and empowerment to do His will.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. Accord

The early church is seen praying in one accord, with united voice, as they prayed from the Scriptures (Acts 4:24). Too often when gathered with others, we just express whatever comes to mind in the moment. The result is usually an unrewarding experience of disconnected sentiments, competing interests, and dissatisfaction. Our prayer times can feel like an orchestra of diverse instruments with everyone playing from their own unrelated sheet music. Dissonance and confusion result. Prayer should be more than a rapid-fire discharge of superficial thoughts, explaining to God all that we think He needs to do in order to structure the universe according to our specifications for a happy and comfortable life.

When we pray from the Scriptures our hearts focus on common truth, like a beautiful orchestra playing from the same musical score. Our blended prayers are focused on God’s will and word. We are able to pray in compliance with our great prayer conductor, the Holy Spirit. The result is unity, agreement, and deep fulfillment.

Prayer in Proper Context

Recently, one of the women attending a Prayer Summit pulled me aside to comment on her experience. She said, “I never realized how simple but meaningful this kind of prayer can be. My prayer life has been stagnated for many months but through this experience I gained practical tips on how to kick-start my prayer life with new energy.”

Eugene Peterson said it well: “We restore prayer to its context in God’s word. Prayer is not something we think up to get God’s attention or enlist his favor. Prayer is answering speech. The first word is God’s word. Prayer is a human word and is never the first word, never the primary word, never the initiating and shaping word simply because we are never first; never primary…the first word everywhere and always is God’s word to us, not ours to him.”[i]

“We restore prayer to its context in God’s word. Prayer is not something we think up to get God’s attention or enlist his favor. Prayer is answering speech. The first word is God’s word.” Eugene Peterson

Jonathan Edwards wrote, “A spirit of delusion will not incline persons to seek direction from the mouth of God.”[ii] Seek direction from the mouth of God. What a focus! This is the key idea and the central passion of Scripture-fed prayer.

Today, as you seek to spend time with God, open your Bible. Discover the truths that spring from the text about His character, His works, and His names. Give Him praise based on these truths. Seek the admonitions of the text. Ask the Spirit to apply these truths to the very fabric of your life. With an open Bible, make it your cry: “Lord, teach me to pray.” He will be faithful to do so as you learn to talk to Him in His own words.

Copyright © 2021 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.

[i] Eugene Peterson, Working the Angles, Eerdman Press

[ii] Jonathan Edwards, cited in The Spirit of Revival by Archie Parrish and R.C. Sproul