In my message this morning at Renovation Church, we studied the topic of prayer from John 14:12-17. The key to understanding how to pray effective & powerful prayers is praying them in Jesus’ name. Praying “in Jesus’ name” means far more than tacking it onto the end of our prayer. Praying according to Jesus’ name means praying according to Jesus’ plan, will, and Kingdom.
But there’s a problem. The Scriptures clearly teach that God’s thoughts are above our thoughts and his ways are above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). If that’s the case, how can we possibly pray in his name?
Answer: We learn how to pray the Bible.
It is through the words of God (Bible) that we encounter the Word of God (Jesus) and experience the work of God (transformation).
The way many of us approach the Bible is unhelpful. We often follow a Bible reading plan that focuses on QUANTITY over QUALITY. In other words, we feel that we need to read a certain amount of chapters in our devotional time in order to “complete” the plan. I challenged the people of Renovation Church to intentionally slow down and learn how to “pray” the Bible. This is so important that I wanted to follow up with a blog post and outline HOW to do this:
Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher.
None of us can understand the Bible on our own – we need the Holy Spirit to be our teacher (1 Cor. 2:14). Each time we open the Scriptures we should be asking for God to be present to us by His Spirit and to lead us into all truth – for He is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13).
Step 2: Ask for the gift of “slow reading.”
We need to keep in mind that every word of Scripture is God’s Word. The Bible is not a book meant to be skimmed but rather a book meant to be immersed in. Before I read the Bible I ask God for the gift of “slow reading.” I seek to linger over every syllable in the text, allowing the Holy Spirit to immerse my soul into His Word.
Step 3: Look for a specific word or phrase the Holy Spirit wants you to meditate on.
As you are reading the text, you should be searching for a specific word or phrase the Holy Spirit is bringing to your attention. For example, if I am reading through John 14, I may pause after John 14:1 because Jesus commands us to not allow our hearts to be troubled. At that point, I would pray the Scriptures by confessing to God that my heart is troubled due to the demands, pressures, and stress of my upcoming week. I would continue to read and would notice the opposite of having my heart troubled is putting my faith in God. I would then ask God to grant me the gift of faith and may even write out some reflections on this particular verse.
Learning how to pray the Bible will (probably) not allow you to read the whole Bible in a year. Nevertheless, I believe it will allow you to experience the true purpose of the Scriptures: to experience and be transformed by the person & work of Jesus Christ.