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This post about prayer may not seem overly insightful or original and that is because I intend neither.  But I do intend for it to be helpful.  And I am actually going to pass on a summary of thoughts from a book I recently read called "Praying the Bible" by Donald S. Whitney.

He begins the book by saying, "Since prayer is talking with God, why don't people pray more?  Why don't the people of God enjoy prayer more?  I maintain that people often do not pray simply because they do not feel like it.  And the reason they don't feel like praying is that when they do pray, they tend to say the same old things about the same old things."  He further explains that we are then bored with prayer and may even become discouraged thinking "something is wrong with me."  But the problem is not with you (a Spirit-indwelt believer) but with your method.

"The method of most Christians in prayer is to say the same old things about the same old things...When prayer consists of the same spoken sentences on every occasion, naturally we wonder at the value of the practice...Jesus said that to pray this way is to pray in vain..."  But note carefully that the problem is not praying ABOUT the same old things, but in SAYING the same old things about the same old things.

So what is the proposed solution?..."when you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm."  I told you this wasn't going to be overly insightful or original!  But nonetheless it is helpful.  The author states, "By doing so, you never run out of anything to say, and, best of all, you never again say the same old things about the same old things.  So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God.  By this means his words become the wings of your prayers."  Along with praying for a multitude of new things, you will still be able to pray for the same old things but never again in saying the same old things.

To pray the Bible, simply go through a passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text.  Note that this method of prayer is not about biblical interpretation, but instead it is about praying.  The Bible intake is secondary.  His example highlighted reading Psalm 130:3, "If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities..." and this makes you think of your friend Mark and so you pray for him.  Perhaps about iniquity but perhaps not at all about iniquity.  Simply turn every thought Godward as you read the passage.  At some points you will pray exactly what the text is about; at other times you will use biblical language to pray thoughts unrelated to the text but prompted by reading the text.  If you do not understand a verse or nothing comes to mind to pray, move on to the next verse.

I would encourage you read "Praying the Bible" by Donald S. Whitney on your own for a fuller understanding.  It is not a long or difficult book at all!  This book was helpful and encouraging for me to continue and to do better in praying God's Word.

With your groups this week you could select a psalm (perhaps Psalm 27) and each person could pray through a handful of verses.  Or each person could pray through the entire psalm with their own thoughts/responses.  Or perhaps each person could pray through a different psalm.  You can pray through any/all the verses of the Bible, but the Psalms are the easiest place to start.  And not only try this with your Small(er) Group this week, but continue on your own and with your family and with other believers you may meet with.