Praying Scripture As A Spiritual Practice For The COVID-19 Pandemic
Mar 24, 2020
The forced isolation that comes with the Corona Virus Pandemic can be viewed as a gift when seen as an unprecedented opportunity for engaging in a variety of spiritual practices that require solitude. What if you thought of these days as the Jews consider the Sabbath—the most sacred of times? A time to cease, rest, reflect, delight, and pray. Using these days of self-isolation as a Sabbath to nurture your inner spiritual life will disarm fear, sustain hope, pull you into a solidarity with a suffering world, and prepare you to bring Jesus’ teachings to life when you reenter your everyday world. The Spiritual Practices we will be sharing in the coming weeks are mostly meditative and are specifically chosen because they are best observed in silence, stillness, and solitude.
When you pray does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things over and over? Praying the words of Scripture just might be your answer. In his little book, “Praying The Bible,” Donald Whitney offers a practical and biblical approach to both personal and public prayer. Praying the words of Scripture has the power to transform your prayer life and invigorate intimacy with God. Praying Scripture can strengthen and encourage your spiritual walk. Let’s turn our attention to the method Whitney advocates.
To pray the Bible, you simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text. You speak to the Lord about everything that occurs to you as you slowly read each passage. The goal is not Bible intake, but rather God focused prayer. Every thought that enters your mind as you are reading a passage of Scripture, even if that thought has nothing to do with the text, is something you may bring to God. If a verse doesn’t speak to you, then go to the next verse. Nothing says you have to pray over every verse. And, at times you will never get past the first verse you read. But, probably most common is when you will go through many verses or chapters and only a few will prompt clear direction for your prayers. That’s why this method is so simple, and anyone can do it.
Another reason praying Scripture is so practical is that it expands or contracts to accommodate the time you have for prayer. So, it works for a multi-day spiritual retreat, or the few minutes you have before you begin your day. Better yet, it prompts you to use new words and phrases that have a supernatural quality because they are inspired words.
Where To Begin
Whitney contends that as a whole, the Psalms comprise the best place from which to pray Scripture. The reasoning is that the Psalms were inspired by God for the purpose of being sung to God. In other words, God gave the Psalms to us to give the Psalms back to God. No other book of the Bible was inspired for that expressed purpose. As we pray the Psalms, we are returning to God the words He inspired for us to speak and sing to Him.
Another reason the Psalms are good place to begin praying Scripture is that every doctrine in the Bible is there in some form. Also, within the scope of 150 Psalms, you find reflected the entire range of human emotions that will trigger different prayers depending upon your current circumstances.
A second place to consider for easing into praying Scripture are the prayers of the Apostle Paul. These can be prayed exactly as written or used to prompt similar prayers for yourself or others. Examples can be found in Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11.
By beginning with the Psalms or the prayers of Paul you will develop a familiarity that will soon allow you to turn to any part of the Bible and pray through that passage.
What Are The Benefits of Praying Scripture?
As a regular spiritual practice, praying Scripture can:
- Relieve the boredom of prayer
- Decrease the repetitiveness of prayer
- Increase your commitment to pray
- Make your prayers more biblically sound
- Become a valuable tool when you struggle to know what and how to pray
As a regular spiritual practice, when praying Scripture you will find:
- Your mind doesn’t wander
- Your prayers becomes more about God and less about you
- That your prayer time begins to feel too short
- That Scripture begins to speak to you exactly where you are right now
- You begin to pray about things you normally don’t pray about
Remember, when you pray the Bible, you aren’t just praying ordinary words, you are praying words of life. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed the Scriptures…..why not you?