Word-Woven Prayers

Often I attend prayer meetings where various requests for healing, finances, safety in travel, or job promotions are divvied out. Naturally, we desire prayer for such things. But a closer look at God's Word would reveal deeper and more divinely inspired ways to pray for friends and family.

Is there a cancer? Yes, prayer for healing is in order, but so is prayer for the robust blessings of Ps. 119:140: "Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them."

How rich to pray, "Lord, this cancer is testing Your promises in the life of my friend who is ill, but You are faithful to every promise You've made to her. May Your servant love Your promises through this time of testing."

Is there a need for finances? Yes, prayer for needed money is in order, but so is prayer for the rewards of Prov. 15:17: "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred."

How invigorating to pray, "Lord, financial blessing isn't the focus; Your Word says that love should be. May we learn to live on little if it means leaning harder on You, as well as each other."

When I pray for disabled children I know, I intercede with Mt. 19:14 in mind: "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" In verse 15 we're given a picture of Jesus tenderly placing His hand on each child.

"Lord Jesus," I'll say, "Your heart went out to children when You walked on earth. I can picture You tousling their hair, bouncing them on Your knee, and laying Your hands on their heads to bestow a blessing. If Your heart went out this way to the boys and girls who could walk up to You, how much more must Your heart overflow toward little Jeanette with spina bifida or Benjamin who has cerebral palsy? Today, may they feel Your hand of blessing on their heads."

Often it's good to quote an entire passage, substituting a person's name for the pronoun in the passage. Colossians 1:9–12 is a good example of scripture to pray this way:

I ask God to fill Susan with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that Susan may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work she does, being strengthened with all power, so that she may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father.

Remember, God's Word is alive, active, and powerful. Prayers laced with the Word of God not only bring about fundamental changes in people and situations, but such prayers keep us in touch with God's priorities. Weaving God's Word into our prayers brings His purposes to the forefront of every request.

The Enlargement of His Promises

E.M. Bounds was known for his extraordinary prayer life. He once testified, “The Word of God is the fulcrum upon which the lever of prayer is placed, and by which things are mightily moved. God has committed Himself, His purpose, and His promise to prayer. His Word becomes the basis, the inspiration of our praying, and there are circumstances under which by importunate prayer, we may obtain an . . . enlargement of His promises.”

I will never forget the time I received an "enlargement of His promises" from praying Scripture. It was in the early '80s, not long after the honeymoon was over for two newlyweds: Ken and me. I learned that my new husband preferred to spend Monday nights in front of the TV with chips, salsa, and the NFL rather than being my hands to write out my Bible study for me. Horrors, I thought, he's not a man of the Word!

I was itching to change my husband, but my nagging and scolding only made things worse. Feeling like a martyr, I sought help in God's Word and stumbled across these words in Philippians 2:3–4:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Yikes, that's me, I thought. I've wanted Ken to change for selfish reasons so he'll meet my expectations. And to be honest, I don't consider him "better than myself." I feel I'm the one in the right. I feel I've got it spiritually together, not him.

I was convicted. These verses catapulted me into a major prayer advance for Ken. I sincerely wanted to follow God's Word and have humility of mind, as well as to regard Ken better than me. How could I look out for his interests? I feverishly flipped through Scripture until I found the perfect passage to pray for my husband.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! (Ps. 24:3–8).

I'd spend evenings in our bedroom, praying, "Lord, You want Ken to stand in Your holy place, to have clean hands and a pure heart. May You cause him to lift up his soul to You and receive Your blessing. May he seek Your face. Lift up the gates of Ken's heart that You, the King of glory, might come in! Lord, say to him, 'I, the King of glory, will come in and rule your life. I, the Lord, strong and mighty.'"

I can't tell you how many times I prayed this way. But now, years later, it's clear that Christ sits on the throne of my husband's heart. (He's in the process of memorizing the entire Sermon on the Mount; I didn't put him up to it, really!) Something else is clear: Ken still loves Monday Night Football. What has changed is that so do I! And I've found other "hands" to help me write out my Bible studies on other evenings.

Speaking Christ’s Language

I began praying Psalm 24 over my husband believing that God would change him, but God did much more. He changed me. It was, as E.M. Bounds would say, "an enlargement of His promises." I'm convinced we are still feeling the repercussions of that Scripture prayer. That's because it was based on Psalm 24 and was alive, active, and powerful, bringing about fundamental changes in me where it counted most. And in my husband, too.

The Bible is our prayer book, and we'd be remiss to neglect its riches. It holds the key to finding God's will when we pray, providing balance and meaning. Great themes abound—God's holiness, wisdom, faithfulness, sovereignty, love, and mercy—all of which beautify our praises, adorn our intercessions, embroider our petitions, and give weight and significance to every supplication.

Most of all, using the Word of God in prayer is about as close as we can get to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus. If we're going to pray in His name, it makes sense to speak in His language.

How could using God’s Word as a model for prayer help you keep His priorities in the forefront? What are some Scriptures you can use to pray for someone in your life or over a situation you’re facing?

Excerpted from Speaking God’s Language: How Scripture Can Add Power to Your Prayers, by Joni Eareckson Tada. Originally published in Pray! Magazine, copyright 2006 by the Navigators. Used by permission of Joni and Friends. 

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About the Author

Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada

Joni Eareckson Tada is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that promotes Christian ministry in the disability community. Joni hosts the short-feature radio program “Joni and Friends,” has written over fifty books, has received the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement, and has been inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Follow Joni & Friends on Twitter @JoniandFriends.

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