When I was younger, my family would pray before every meal. I still have that prayer memorized. “Come Lord Jesus be our guest and let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It’s not a bad prayer but most nights I would see how fast I could say it without my parents making me say it over again. Whether we know it or not we often pray in a similar way. We may not say the same exact words, but all of our prayers probably sound very similar.
Donald Whitney has had a huge impact on how I view prayer. In class he said, “our problem in prayer is we say the same old things about the same old things.” Prayer becomes boring and monotonous because it is the same thing over and over again. When something is boring to us it becomes a chore and something we dread doing. Once we realize nobody is forcing us to pray, we eventually stop.
How often do you pray? Do you find prayer boring? What do you pray about? Be honest about your prayer life. You don’t need to impress anybody when answering these questions. Is your prayer life robust and full of life or is it sporadic and dead? If you answered that it is sporadic and dead, then what can you do to make it robust and full of life? I believe the answer is simple. We need to use scripture as a catalyst to prayer. This can happen in few different ways.
The first way to use scripture as a catalyst of prayer is to meditate on scripture. Meditation happens when we read scripture, think about the author’s intended meaning and consider the implications for our lives. The meditation will direct our prayers. If you meditate on a command, then your prayer will likely be a prayer of repentance because you have fallen short of God’s standard. This leads to a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to empower you to live in the way God wants you to live. It also leads to a prayer of praise that Jesus has satisfied God’s wrath and we’re forgiven. One command that always gets me is “husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” I rarely give up what I want for supper let alone give all of myself up for Kaylee. I can easily see where I have failed, and it leads to repentance. If you meditate on God’s attributes, then you may be led to prayers of praise and worship. It may lead to gratefulness that He has shown you His love and goodness even though we don’t deserve it. Recently I read though Hebrews and was led to praise Jesus for being our Great High priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He went to the cross with joy! It hit me that we have an incredible God who planned and purchased our salvation.
The second way scripture can be used as a catalyst for prayer is using it as a guide. Dr. Whitney introduced me to praying through the Psalms. He encouraged us to take a Psalm each day and pray through it, either a whole Psalm or verse by verse. Take Psalm 23 as an example. The first line is “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” You may praise God for being your Shepherd or use it as a prayer for someone who does not know Jesus. “Lord I pray for my child that you would there.” I’m sure every parent has prayed for their child countless times. This will help you say the same old thing in a different way. You can pray for God to lead you, restore your soul, or make Himself known. You can praise Him that He comforts you and follows you with goodness and mercy. You can pray that the Lord will come quickly so you may dwell in His house sooner. You may pray for all these things or one of them.
The final way to use scripture as a catalyst to prayer is to think about the current situations in your life and apply scripture to it. Many of you may be tired of the pandemic and led to wonder where God is in all of it. This may lead to scriptures about God’s sovereign control over nature. Read through the verses and then pray! You may be discontented over the stay at home orders. This may lead to scriptures on rejoicing in all circumstances. Many times, trials and troubles lead us to prayer. Scripture can help guide and direct those prayers. A family may be ill. A healing story in the gospel may guide your prayers for your sick family member.
Applying scripture to our circumstances will help guide our prayers and lead us to pray God’s will for our lives. It will help us to avoid praying for the same old things in the same old way. It will make prayer fresh and exciting each day. Let God speak through scripture and then speak to God through prayer. My prayer is that you will find joy in this simple method of prayer. I hope it enriches your personal time with God.
Pastor Blake Burton