We have been preaching and teaching on the topic of prayer for the past 2 months. I am thoroughly convinced that if we are ever to see a mighty move of God in this generation (or any for that matter) it will come when we as Christians become serious about prayer. I believe that prayerlessness as individual believers and as the church collectively is the single greatest sin of the church. As such, this series is relevant and applicable to us today.
Over the course of the last 8 weeks we have touched on several aspects of prayer. Here is a quick review of the sermon titles from this series so far. I trust that God has spoken to us in some way through each one of them:
● God’s Desire for His People to Pray
● Seizing Opportunities to Pray With Others
● The Role of the Holy Spirit in Prayer
● The Importance of Listening to God in Prayer
● Hindrances of Effective Prayer Unconfessed Sin
● Hindrances of Effective Prayer Harboring Unforgiveness
● God’s Call to Preparatory Prayer
● The Prayer of Faith and Perseverance in Prayer
Today we will discuss what I believe to be one of the most effective methods of prayer - namely, praying God’s Word. Not only are we going to talk about why it is useful, but I am also going to show you how to do it. The message today will be very practical, as we discover how to take Scripture and rework it into prayers that we can then recite back to our Heavenly Father.
As we watch our video segment, I want you to notice how the woman speaking has taken specific Bible promises and claimed them for herself, and molded her prayers around these verses in order to pray victoriously.
DVD TEACHING SEGMENT (not available online)
I. THE ART OF SWORDSMANSHIP (Ephesians 6:13-18)
If you have been a Christian for any length of time at all, you have likely heard a message on the “Armor of God”. In this text, Paul advises us to put on this armor daily so that we will be able to resist evil and stand firm. The pieces include the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel boots, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. Each of these 5 items are all defensive in nature, to help us withstand the enemy’s attack.
But we are also to take up the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. This weapon enables us to fight back, by going on the offensive against our adversary. The sword is unlike the other pieces of armor in an important way - it doesn’t work just by putting it on… we must learn how to use it. Having the skill to use our weapon effectively will make all the difference when we find ourselves engaged in spiritual battle. It will determine whether we overcome or whether we are struck down. So how do we learn to wield our swords valiantly?
As shown in verse 18 of this passage, the ability to use to sword of the spirit effectively is directly tied to prayer and petition. We must practice praying the Word of God to increase our skill. As we learn to pray the Bible, which is the sword of the spirit, we become master swordsmen. A person who memorizes, recites, and prays Scripture is a fearful warrior in the army of God. Satan and his legion of demons cower before such a hero.
II. HOW TO PRAY GOD’S WORD
Depending upon who you ask, scholars have stated that there are somewhere between 3000 and 8000 promises of God written in the Bible. There are so many, it is almost impossible to get an accurate count. Nevertheless, most of these promises can be claimed by any believer through prayer. There may be some that are directed to a specific person, time, and place, but most have a general application. A person must simply find the promise in God’s Word and pray it for themselves or others, as appropriate. In other words, we first discover it and then we use it.
Most of the promises of God can be reworded by simply changing the pronouns in the verses. This does not change the meaning of the promise, but rather personalizes it to the individual. For example, a person seeking direction might pray the following prayer based on this familiar passage:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6
“Father, I will trust You with all of my heart. I will not lean on my own understanding. I will acknowledge you in all my ways. As I do this, I ask You LORD to make my paths straight. Amen.”
See how simple that is? Now, we must be careful that our personalization of the promise does not change the meaning of the promise. God will honor His own word, not our misguided translation of it. As we learn to pray God’s word, we must be careful to maintain its integrity.
III. SOME EXAMPLE SCRIPTURE PRAYERS
When you are sick/afflicted:
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. - Psalm 34:19
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; - Psalm 103:2-3
and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick - James 5:15a
“O great and mighty God, with all of my soul I bless Your name. I will not forget Your benefits. Though the afflictions of the righteous are many, You deliver me from them all. You heal all of my disease. Therefore I pray in faith, asking You to restore my health and to heal my sickness. Amen.”
When you are tempted:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13
“Almighty LORD, I know that the temptation that has overtaken me is nothing new. I pray that You not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able to withstand. Show me the way of escape, that I might be able to endure this temptation without sinning. Amen.”
When you are mourning/sad:
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Matthew 5:4
“Holy God, I am brokenhearted and my spirit is crushed. Be near to me and save me from this sadness. Heal my brokenness LORD. Bind up my wounds and cover me with Your divine comfort. Amen.”
These are just a few of the Scripture prayers that I have written. There are literally thousands more that could be penned, covering almost any topic. In some of these examples I combined multiple verses into a single prayer. You can do this same thing. The point is to take God’s Word and make it your own, through the practice of prayer.
As you spend time reading the Bible each day, I want to challenge you to purposefully look for the promises of God. When you find one highlight it, underline it, or write it down in a journal so that you will be able to find it later. Take a few moments to personalize the Scripture and rework it into the form of a prayer (if it isn’t already). Be careful not to change the meaning of the promise as you rewrite it.
Here is a tip that might help as you search the Scriptures. Many times (but not all), the promises of God are written in a conditional format. They go something like this - “if you will do this then the LORD will do that”. As you begin to discover and pray these verses for yourself, remember that if you are not being obedient to the “this” then God is not obligated to do the “that”.
The Bible is a plentiful goldmine of treasure, which all too often goes untapped. We must dig into its pages, and find the nuggets of God’s promises. Once found, we can begin to claim these promises through prayer as we pray God’s Word back to Him. The efficacy of this type of prayer is measureless, but we can visualize it as a skilled warrior who expertly wields his “sword of the spirit” to defeat the enemies that confront him.