Prayer to Change Your Life
Posted on March 8, 2018
by John Paul Jackson
The Bible is filled with examples of godly men and women whose lives were infused with prayer. As a result, entire nations were changed, and the earth saw God displayed in power.
Prayer is the most mentioned doctrine and practice in Scripture. The command to pray is found 250 times in the Bible, and praying specific prayers is mentioned another 280 times.
I know that prayer can be an intimidating word for some of us. In the middle of busy lives, the thought of prayer can make us feel overwhelmed. So in this month’s article, I want to share with you an easy way to pray—a practice that has radically shaped my walk with God, and I know it will impact yours as well. It’s called Lectio Divina, which is a fancy phrase that essentially means praying Scripture back to God.
A CLOSER LOOK
Something mysterious happens as we read through Scripture and use it as prayer. Lectio Divina is slowly and deliberately praying the Word of God, allowing Him to speak to us through it. In the process, His Spirit connects with our spirits. The eternal truths contained
in Scripture enter our hearts, and with that entrance, we are more than changed—we are transformed. This has happened to me over and over again as I pray in this manner.
Lectio Divina is not a new, “modern” way to pray. Moses used it as he taught God’s people. He built them up in the Lord by repeating and reiterating the things they already knew. Through Moses, the Lord commanded the people to meditate on what they had learned and teach it to their children:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
— Deuteronomy 6:6–7
Even in the Bible, people prayed God’s Word and meditated on it. As we unhurriedly savor Scripture—thinking about it, praying about it, taking it in, asking God what it means—we remind ourselves of God’s promises to us. We rest in His presence. Our minds are renewed, and we become more like Him.
Here are four simple steps to praying the Word of God:
1. Find a short passage of Scripture that speaks to you. Try to let go of any preconceived ideas you have about the passage—listen with your heart and your head. Begin with meditation or silent prayer on that passage; then read the passage aloud.
2. Read the passage again, this time listening for one word or phrase that reaches out to you. When your second reading is nished, say that word or phrase aloud, and think about it. Ask God what it means for you personally. What is He saying to you about it? Why is He highlighting it to you right now?
3. Read the passage again, and be open for a possible moment of grace when the Holy Spirit says, “This is what I’m saying to you.” Then write down in a brief and prayerful fashion what you feel God is communicating through the passage. What did the passage teach you about God, yourself or the spiritual search you have been on?
4. Read the passage a fourth time. You might notice the reading sounds a bit different to you than it did before, or that the passage means more now than when you started. This is when you and the Scripture actually become one—and it is also when transformation begins.
The Art of Praying the Scriptures book, CD-Set, and Study Card are all valuable tools that will help prepare you to pray God’s Word back to him. The book contains 175 pages of practical instruction on the process of meditating on and praying God’s word and it includes some of John Paul’s favorite Scripture verses. The 2-CD Set goes deeper into this teaching with John Paul sharing several stories and anecdotes.
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