Do you ever sit down to pray and can’t seem to find the words? Do you feel like your prayers are limited and not as effective as they could be? I believe that the most effective prayers come right from God’s word. In fact, the Holy Spirit often shows us what we should be praying for through the word.
I started praying the scriptures by accident, honestly. I’d read a passage in scripture and feel deeply encouraged or convicted, and I knew that I didn’t just want to read it and move on with my life, I wanted it to be true for me. So, I started praying the words I read in scripture and God worked through my prayer, transforming my life.
If you want to take your prayer life to a new level, I recommend praying the scriptures. If you want to find out how, keep reading!
What is praying scripture?
Praying scripture is simply taking a passage, verse, or concept in scripture and using it for specific prayers for your life or community. Instead of forming a prayer from your own heart and mind, you’d pray what’s already written in the word.
Why is praying scripture helpful?
Praying the scriptures is helpful for a few reasons. First, it prevents us from praying amiss since it comes directly from God’s word (James 4:3). Next, it ensures that God hears and answers our prayers (1 John 5:14-15). It also helps us to live more biblically based lives. The world we live in is opposed to God’s will and it’s easy to believe that the world’s ways are right. When we remain in God’s word by praying it each day, our hearts become more aligned with God’s heart. Instead of being led astray by the world’s philosophies, we begin to live our lives more like God intended us to (Romans 12:2).
4 Steps to Praying the Scriptures
1. Be sure that you understand the context of the scripture you’ll be praying
This is the most important step. If we don’t understand the context of what we’re reading, we can end up praying something that has less to do with what the Bible says and more to do with our own desires. Before you choose a passage of scripture to pray, first ask yourself what it says, what it means, and what the Holy Spirit wants you to take away from it. If you need more help doing this, read my article covering questions to ask yourself as you study the Bible.
Let’s look at Philippians 4:6-7 as an example:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Related: How to Study the Bible for Beginners
The Apostle Paul wrote Philippians from prison. Yet, the letter is all about joy, perseverance, faith, and thanksgiving. Paul teaches us that our circumstances do not have to dictate our outlook on life. Trials are inevitable but we can still cling to the joy of the Lord when trials come.
Here in these verses, Paul tells the Philippians that they should not be anxious about anything at all. Instead, they should turn everything over to God in prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving. We are promised that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds when we choose to lay down anxiety and worry in prayer.
I believe that Paul encouraged these believers in this way because he knew they’d get anxious sometimes. We all do. But, there is a solution for anxiety. Jesus is the solution. And when we give everything to him in prayer, he gives us peace in return.
Once you understand what the passage means, it’s time to sit with the Holy Spirit and ask him what he wants you to take away from it. What truth in these words do you need to cling to? Do you struggle with anxiety? Are you worried about anything? Do you feel that you lack peace? Let God speak to you and reveal the things in your heart that needs to be addressed.
I personally take away the truth that I should not be anxious about anything at all. I’m pretty good at submitting some worries to him but do I really present all of them to him? Am I holding on to anything? If I want to obey God’s word and receive his peace, I need to give him everything without holding back.
2. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you
Next, let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the passage. You can simply ask, Lord, what do you want me to pray about? The answer is often revealed in the areas you feel convicted, encouraged, passionate, or stirred to take action.
Keep thinking about the take away the Holy Spirit led you to. In my case, I can be thinking about the areas in my life I haven’t been submitting to God. I may also be thinking about what it means to truly trust God and how I can be resting in his will.
3. Personalize the passage
After you’ve taken some time to sit with the passage, it’s time to personalize it. Think about what it would mean if these words were actually true in your life. How would your life be different? Believe that since they are God’s inspired words, they can be true in your life.
4. Write down your prayer or say it out loud
Finally, now that you have personalized the passage, write it down in a journal or pray it out loud. Use your name or the names of people in your life and pray God’s word over them.
Here’s how I would pray Philippians 4:6-7:
Lord, I thank you that I don’t have to be anxious about anything. I thank you that I can lay every burden and every care at your feet. Instead of trying to fix my problems on my own, I thank you that I can give them to you. Thank you Lord that when I give you my anxiety and my worries, you give me your peace. Even when things may be going wrong, internally I can have peace. And Lord, help me to do this. Help me to lay these anxieties at your feet. Help me to give them to you even when I’d much rather hang on to them. Help me to trust you to do what only you can do instead of trying to do what I cannot do. Thank you Lord. Amen.
Types of prayers we can draw from Scripture
Thankfully, there are many types of prayer we can draw from scripture. We can pray scripture for others or for ourselves. We can pray for our local communities and our national government. We can pray for the sick, the unsaved, the brokenhearted, and the hurting. The solution to people’s problems is in the word and as we begin to pray it, we’ll see lives and circumstances transformed. Here are a few examples of prayers we can find in scripture:
We find many prayers of thanksgiving in scripture, particularly in the Psalms. Prayer is not just about asking God for what we need. Prayer also involves giving thanks to God. Here are a few scriptures we can use to express thanksgiving to God.
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.Psalm 9:1 ESV
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!Psalm 107:8 ESV
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.cOLOSSIANS 3:17 ESV
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.Hebrews 13:15 esv
Sometimes we have sin in our lives that we need to confess. Praying scripture can help you with acknowledging and confessing your sins.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.Psalm 32:5 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.Proverbs 28:13 esv
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.Psalm 51:1-5 esv
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.Matthew 6:12 esv
Prayers of Praise
We can use scripture to help us praise God for his goodness.
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.Psalm 100:5 ESV
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!Psalm 150:6 esv
Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,EPHESIANS 5:19 ESV
Praying God’s Promises
Finally, we can use scripture to help us hold fast to promises in God’s word.
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.Isaiah 40:31 ESV
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”jOHN 16:33 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.mATTHEW 11:28 ESV
Praying Scripture for Others
Finally, I want to share how you can pray scripture for others in your life and community. As believers, we are all called to intercede, or pray for others. Sometimes intercession can feel daunting because we don’t know where to begin.
Start off by asking your friends and family what they need prayer for. Look for key words in their requests. Are they struggling with sin? Are they dealing with financial challenges? Do they have health issues? Find scripture that addresses what they need and begin to pray it over them.
If you don’t know what someone needs, allow the Holy Spirit to lead you as you pray for them. If you read something in scripture that applies to your friend or family member, pray it over them. Find scripture about God’s peace and protection and pray it over them. Find scripture about growing in faith and staying close to God. Pray those over them. The beautiful thing about praying scripture is that you may not know what your family member or friend needs but God knows and he has made provision in his word. Praying the word over them will always be helpful.
A final word about praying scripture
I love praying scripture as I read it each morning. If I’m reading a passage that stands out, I might stop and pray it. You can choose to keep a designated list of passages to pray regularly or you can pray as you read each day. Be flexible about it and use it as a tool to help you draw closer to God. You don’t have to worry about doing it perfectly, just get started!
I hope this helped introduce you to the wonderful world of praying scripture. God’s word is so powerful! If you feel stuck in prayer or you’re just looking for new ways to pray, consider picking up your Bible and praying directly from the words you read.