Friday, April 30, 2010

Praying the Bible

When I was fifteen my youth group started a prayer meeting every Wednesday night focused on reading the Bible and praying it back to the Lord. At first, this was a hard concept for most of us to grab hold of and to understand. It was different. I guess we were never taught how to pray, we just watched, observed, and then formed our own style. Now we were now being taught a new way to pray and it was stretching us. Praying the Bible back to the Lord made sense, but it was difficult at times. Reading a verse every time you wanted to pray and then forming your prayer around that verse almost felt restricting. However, the more we continued to pray in this manner, the easier it was. Rather then feeling like it was restricting our prayers, we began to find more freedom in our prayers. It was no longer about us coming up with the right words to pray, rather it was about praying to the Lord that which he had already declared and that which he already had promised to do. It was through this time of praying the scriptures that I really began to love prayer and through praying that I really began to love the Bible.

Praying the Bible made me truly begin to enjoy prayer. It was an avenue for me to enter the prayer meetings and not have to worry about being bored or not having anything to pray. I had plenty of resource and all I had to do was enter in. But it was not just the fact that I began to feel comfortable in prayer that made it enjoyable. I began to pray with more authority. My prayers no longer felt like a kid asking God for what I thought was good, but rather I was bringing before the Lord his own words, his own promises, his own declarations. I was able to find my strength in prayer not because I had the best words to say, but rather because I had the best recourse to know what to pray. I no longer had to worry about hearing the heart of God, I could just read his Word and know what he wanted. It is not that I no longer waited on the Lord or waited on the leading of the Spirit, it just made all of that easier. Hearing the Lord was easier, praying was easier, and it was fun. Prayer was not a time of sitting quietly and trying not to fall asleep, prayer was active, I was involved, and I began to see the fruit.

Since every time I prayed I was using the Bible as my resource, I would sit and try and find verses to read during prayer, even when I was not praying. I could pass the time in class, at home, and, yes, sometimes in church by reading my Bible. I would try and find verses that I had not heard people pray before. I remember searching through books like Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Judges just because I was not familiar with them. To this day, some of the verses that I found during that time are my absolute favorite. I remember one time when I was traveling and I had to wake up at 4:00AM (the ungodly hour) in order to make the flight, so my friends and I decided to stay up through the night. Needless to say, they did not make it. I remember after everyone had gone to bed grabbing my Bible and just reading. I remember kneeling on the floor of the bathroom in Guatemala and just being moved by what I was reading. I had an orange highlighter and after that night you might think that that was the only highlighter I ever used to mark in my Bible. The scriptures had become alive to me. I would sit and read and pray and then take what I had read and prayed and do again in the prayer meetings. That is when my Bible became my favorite possession. That is when my quiet times became alive and had meaning. My relationship with the Lord grew during that time like I do not think it ever had before. Everything started to come together. Praying caused me to enjoy reading, reading caused me to enjoy praying, both gave me knew insight and made me desire to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord.

It is odd to look back at those prayer meetings and see how much they shaped where I am at today. I had no idea at the time that my relationship with the Lord would forever be different, that my idea of prayer would be different, or that my life would be different simply by praying. But all of that has happened. I am not trying to say I have found the key to going deeper in relationship with the Lord. The Lord works in different peoples lives in different ways, but I know that for the time and place I was at this is how the Lord captured my heart.

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