When you use the Bible to pray it increases the power of our prayers because of the vital truths about God that we learn and utilize from the Bible. Not knowing what’s in the Bible severely limits our ability to pray. Without the Bible, prayer is only a wishful thought that we aren’t sure will work that we send up to an unknown something that we aren’t totally sure exists.
When you use the Bible to pray it transforms prayer from a stab in the dark toward an unknown something into an ongoing conversation between ourselves and our God whom we know, love, trust, and depend on.
There are infinite ways to use the Bible to pray with more power.
Use the Bible to pray by learning about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
In order to pray, you need to know who you’re talking to. Without the Bible, you would have to rely on hearsay, opinions and theories. Fortunately, the Bible was written to tell us about God’s character, about who Jesus is and why he died and rose again and about how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. John tells us, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20: 31 NIV)
The kind of truths needed for effective prayer require knowledge of the Bible as a whole, not just bits and pieces taken out of context. That’s why Christian churches and groups read and study the Bible together and glean its meaning and compare it to other teachings in the Bible. They then examine their personal thoughts and experiences in light of what the Bible says. (See Acts 17:11)
Use the Bible to pray by learning how to be part of God’s Covenant
Once you know about God from the Bible, you’re able to actively become part of God’s covenant. The word covenant means an agreement, commitment, pledge or promise. Prayer becomes powerful within an overall covenant relationship with God. Since a covenant involves two sides, God and ourselves, the Bible explains what God promises to do for us and what God expects of us in return.
The Bible tells about two covenants God makes between humans and himself. We learn about the first covenant in the Old Testament. God promised to be present with the people of Israel and the people promised to remain faithful to God by not worshiping idols and by staying true to God’s commandments about moral behavior and worship. Unfortunately, the Bible records that although God always kept his promises to us, human beings weren’t willing or able to keep their promises to God.
Fortunately the New Testament tells about a new covenant between God and all people through Jesus Christ. In it, each individual makes a personal decision to become a part of the covenant by admitting that they are morally incapable of being perfect or unselfish and that they need Jesus who offered his own life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins and shortcomings. (See Hebrews 9:15) To learn how to accept Jesus personally see our article, “how to get to know Jesus personally.”
There are countless amazing details recorded in the Bible about what this new covenant means. We are enabled to pray and see God at work in response to our prayers because we know the promises and principles of being part of this new covenant. (See Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 9:15)
Use the Bible to pray by learning God’s commandments
Living in covenant with God means following God’s commandments. Commandments are God’s most important principles of life and behavior. It’s not simply about following rules and being good. Instead following God’s commandments keeps our lives free of unnecessary problems and keeps us closely connected to God. Commandments are very clear and apply to all life situations and to every person. The most famous are the Ten Commandments on which much of the laws in society are based. In addition to the Ten Commandments, there are other important commandments that can only be learned through reading the Bible. Here are some examples:
The Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:1 -17)
Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV)
Jesus commanded us to be witnesses who teach others about him and make disciples. (Matthew 28: 16 -20)
Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43,44 NIV)
Use the Bible to pray and find wisdom about your life situation
When we pray for ourselves or for someone else there’s always an underlying element of needing wisdom about the situation. Sending us new wisdom and insight is one of the primary ways that God answers prayer. The Bible contains these answers. Often when I pray for something, a Bible verse comes to my mind that I have previously read or studied that offers helpful and surprising wisdom and ideas.
Here are a few interesting examples of wisdom found in the Bible that could specifically answer your prayers for wisdom.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NIV)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court.” (Matthew 5:25 NIV )
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1,2 NIV)
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27 NIV)
Use the Bible to learn how God interacts with people
When we pray, we need to know what might happen during and afterwards so we can benefit from it. Knowing how God interacted with people in the past opens our eyes to the possibilities of what can happen in our own lives as a result of prayer.
Here are just a few of the fascinating examples of how God interacted with people during and after prayer:
God sent a vision during prayer. (Acts 10: 9- 16)
People were empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:1- 4)
A diversity of people became unified in prayer and shared their lives and possessions with each other. As a result, many people were saved. (Acts 2: 42 -47)
Even though threatened with arrest, Christians prayed for and received boldness. (Acts 4 :23–31)
Use the Bible to learn ways of praying
The Bible tells about a variety of ways that people prayed that can help us to explore ones that we might want to try. Examples include the following:
Moses acting as an intercessor, asking God to forgive the people. (Exodus 32:11 -14)
The disciples “laying on hands” in prayer empowering others with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17)
Jesus going away to lonely places to pray. (Luke 5:16)
James telling us to gather the church elders and anoint the sick in oil to pray for healing. (James 5:14-16)
Hannah praying in tears and agony. (I Samuel 1:11-18)
Use the Bible to pray actual prayers prayed by others
The Bible records the actual words prayed by many people in a variety of circumstances. These prayers cover a huge variety of situations and human emotions. You’ll find prayers for forgiveness, prayers for rescue and prayers of thanksgiving and praise. You’ll find prayers from prison and during feasts. You’ll find prayers of lament over horrible losses and prayers of joy over rescues and conquests. You’ll find short prayers only a sentence long and other prayers that are long and detailed.
Here is a sampling of some of these prayers:
The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father taught to us by Jesus. (Matthew 6: 9)
The one sentence “Lord have mercy on me a sinner” prayer. (Luke 18:13)
King Solomon’s prayer for wisdom. (I Kings 3:6 -9)
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that if it be possible that he not have to die, but not his will but God‘s be done. (Matthew 26: 39)
Jesus’ prayer for the disciples. (John 17: 6-25)
Use the Bible to learn what Jesus taught about prayer
Prayer was a topic that Jesus often taught about because people were eager to know how to pray. Jesus taught us the Lord’s prayer in response to the disciples asking him, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” Here are a few examples of the kinds of teachings of Jesus on prayer that we learn in the Bible.
Jesus taught us not to pray publicly for show. (Matthew 6:5 ,6)
Jesus taught that a lot of words aren’t necessary for God to hear us because God already knows what we need before we ask. (Matthew 7,8)
Jesus told us to be persistent in prayer. (Luke 11:5 -9)
Jesus told us to exercise faith when we pray, believing that God will answer us. (Mark 11:24)
Use the Bible to pray by seeing how prayer empowered people
One very important way God answers prayer is by empowering us to thrive and survive during life difficulties. There are countless historical accounts in the Bible that tell us how God empowered ordinary people to do extraordinary things when they were empowered by God through prayer. Here are a few examples.
Prayer empowered Esther to go before the king to save the Israelites even though she could be put to death if the king refused to see her. (Esther 4:9 -17)
Prayer empowered Nehemiah to go on a dangerous journey to repair the ruined walls Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 1: 4- 11)
Prayer empowered Daniel to survive overnight in a pit of hungry lions without being harmed. (Daniel 6:10-23)
Prayer empowered Paul and Silas to sing in jail and an earthquake destroyed their chains and caused the jailer to become converted. (Acts 16:25 – 34)
Use the Bible to pray and receive personal words from God
Throughout the ages the Bible has been used as a means of receiving a personal word from God. Obviously the Bible was written eons before we were born for all people throughout history. However the messages in it can become very personal when the Holy Spirit highlights them in some special way in our hearts and minds at the very moment we need them.
Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26 NIV)
We suddenly might find ourselves identifying very closely with the life situations of someone in the Bible. Or a Bible verse might come into our minds when we are praying or meditating. Or we might open the Bible to a place where we left off and find exactly the words we need at the moment right there on the page.
This boosts prayer power immeasurably because when we pray, God often answers our prayers by replying to us through a variety of means, including through the Bible and through the counsel of Christian friends.
Here’s an examples of personal word I have received from God via the Scripture:
We were in a middle of moving to another city and I was fearfully driving with a loaded car alone to our new home in a thunderstorm. I was tearful about leaving behind my familiar home and friends and scared by the storm and also scared about starting over again in a new place. As I was gripping the steering wheel a phrase from the Bible jumped into my mind, “Courage, it is I.” I recalled that Jesus said it and I felt it was meant to assure me that this move was part of his plan and that I shouldn’t be afraid. Later I looked up the verse and Jesus says this to his disciples when they say him walking on the water in the middle of the night and were terrified that they were seeing a ghost. The Bible says, “Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage, it is I. Don’t be afraid.’” ( Matthew 14:27 NIV)
Use the Bible to pray and learn God’s will
God’s will means God’s good and perfect plans, desires and visions for life. Although God has perfect plans and intentions for the world, He allows us freedom of choice to either act in harmony with his will or to ignore and disobey these plans. When we disregard God’s will, we will live lives that are much less fulfilling, healthy, purposeful, hopeful, loving, satisfying and peaceful.
When ancient Israel was about to enter the Promised Land after escaping from slavery Moses told them, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19–20 NIV)
In choosing God’s will over ours, we are choosing life. Here are some examples of Bible verses that tell us God’s will:
Jesus says, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NIV)
“Be joyful always. Pray continually; Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5 :16 -18 NIV)
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. “ (I Peter 2:15)
“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9,10 NIV)
Use the Bible to pray God’s promises
God’s promises in the Bible are often cited and repeated in prayer to apply the truth of God’s promises for the world or for a particular person or situation. Because God never changes and his promises are forever, praying people throughout the ages have maintained the truth of, asserted their belief in and have applied the power of God’s promises to their lives.
Here are a few examples of God’s promises from the Bible:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 NIV)
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NIV)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 NIV)
Use the Bible to pray using the names and attributes of God you need
The Bible provides a rich resource of the names of God and the attributes of God that help us identify his all- sufficiency with our specific needs as we pray. For instance, when Hagar the slave of Sarah was sent away to fend for herself and was in the wilderness all alone, she prayed and God spoke to her. It says, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” (Genesis 16:13 NIV)
Here are a few examples of the names or attributes of God that are used in prayer:
My Hiding Place. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)
The Lord God who made us. “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3 NIV)
A Refuge, Shelter from the Storm. “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” (Isaiah 25:4 NIV)
Our Father who knows what we need before we ask. (Matthew 6:8)
The loving Father who calls us his children. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1 NIV)
Use the Bible to help you praise and thank God
Praise and thanksgiving are parts of prayer. The Bible is a treasury of actual prayers of praise and thanksgiving prayed by others. These can serve as models and examples for us to follow or we can use the actual words of these prayers in our own conversations with God. Here are a few examples:
The Magnificat, or Mary’s prayer of praise about being chosen by God to bear Jesus. (Luke 1:46- 55)
The song of praise of Moses after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptians who were trying to capture them. (Exodus 15:1-18)
Jesus prays, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me,” when standing at the tomb of Lazarus when he was about to raise him from the dead. (John 11: 41 NIV)
The book of Psalms in the Bible contains many prayers of praise. A great example is Psalm 145 which praises God for his many amazing virtues.
Use the Bible to pray for forgiveness and confess your sins
Praying for forgiveness for yourself or for others is another very important aspect of prayer found in the Bible. Here are some examples:
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:12)
Jesus prayed this prayer on the cross for those who were crucifying him, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
Jesus taught, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:2 3-24 NIV)
Father, forgive me for I have sinned against God and you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
David’s prayer for forgiveness. “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:9,10 NIV)
Other ways using the Bible empowers prayer
We’ve covered just a few of the ways using the Bible empowers prayer and there are many more. For instance, the Bible can help answer questions you ask God in prayer. It is useful to correcting errors. It enlightens your understanding of God or your situation. The list is endless.
Other related articles:
Copyright Karen Barber 2016. All rights reserved.