How to Pray Scripture

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In my latest book, Jesus Every Day, I walk you through verses from every book of the Bible, then invite you to pray those Scriptures. So how does one do that? How do you read a verse or two, then pray them back?

Here’s an example from Romans 1:1

“This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.” Romans 1:1

Based on these words, I work through the verse chronologically.

  1. Of course, the backdrop is that Romans is a letter written by Paul for those who live in Rome.
  2. We find that he calls himself a slave of Christ, which causes me to look up that word for further study.
  3. I spend some time understanding and researching apostleship and calling.
  4. And, lastly, I look through several verses that talk about the Good News (also known as the Gospel).

This part can take a few minutes to an hour, depending on the time you have and the resources available. Sometimes I’ll simply read and re-read the verse or verses and contemplate them, asking questions about the text. I’ll look at context as well. I’ll ask:

  • What are the surface observations of the passage?
  • What does this passage say about God?
  • What does this passage say about me?
  • How can I apply this passage to my daily life?

These follow the common method of observation, interpretation and application.

Based on all that, I then pray the Scripture. I can either do this verbally, quietly, or written in my journal. I’ve done all three at different times.

Here’s my prayer:

Jesus, empower me to understand the imagery of slavery in this passage. I know enslaving another human being is wrong, but teach me what it means when Paul says he has willingly enslaved himself to you. I’m reminded of bondservants who, after years of being captive, choose to serve their master the rest of their lives, their ears pierced with an awl. In light of that, I choose you today. I willingly accept your leadership. You are my master; I am your servant. My ear (and heart) are pierced precisely because you were pierced for me. How can I thank you?

Today I pray I would live as someone chosen by you. Where I’m feeling small and weak, infuse me with purpose based on your pursuit of me. I can scarce understand the stooping it takes for you to leave heaven, come to earth, live a perfect life, become a sacrifice of sin on the cross for all of humanity, then rise again. All that is incredibly Good News—it is the essence of the gospel. Teach me what it means to be a child of the Good News—wholly loved, made right, accepted, and chosen. Thank you for adopting me into your family. I am no longer orphaned without hope. You have pursued me, and I am undone by that—in the best possible way.

In light of all this amazingness, would you send me out with joy today? Help me to see every person I meet as someone you have pursued. Instead of shrinking back from sharing about you, give me the gumption to simply tell the story—of my willing servanthood (and your example of it), of your pursuit of me (and them!), and of the Good News of salvation. I know that you will increase my joy as I dance outside my fears and tell my story of your goodness. Amen.

How about you? How do you pray Scripture?