I listened intently as beautiful words of praise and adoration flowed from the gentlemen’s lips. His prayer was seamless, natural, as easy as talking to an old friend.
Why can’t I pray like that? Why is my prayer such a struggle for me?
When I come before God, my heart weighs heavy but my head becomes hollow. I stumble over my words; my mind wanders to my grocery list, and I struggle to recall prayer requests. Time meant to leave me with feelings of hope and peace is overshadowed by frustration and shame.
One day, following another beautifully scripted prayer, I asked the gentleman, can you teach your “secret” to great prayers? He smiled, “it’s no secret; I study the Bible and pray the Scriptures.” Pray scriptures? Is that “allowed?” Isn’t that equivalent to spiritual plagiarizing? Would God think less of me if I used someone else’s words?
No, not at all!
The early church in Acts prayed Psalm 2 when they were suffering, “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one (Acts 4:24-26).”
Jesus shares the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11 to illustrate how we should approach God in prayer. Jesus on the cross, when praying to God, referenced Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Our Heavenly Father graciously gave us His Word for us to know Him, studying and praying Scripture is a way we can grow in intimacy and love of God.
There are multiple methods to pray Scripture, but I have found that Martin Luther’s four strands of prayer to be most beneficial to teaching us how to pray God’s Word.