How to Pray Scriptures

Knowing how to pray Scriptures can add power to your prayer times.  Here are some ideas about the many ways you can pray Scriptures. 

How to pray scriptures using God’s commandments

Praying God’s commandments is powerful because they are his most important principles of life and behavior.  Commandments aren’t just about following rules and good behavior.  They keep our lives free of unnecessary problems and keep us closely connected to God. 

Praying commandments is effective because the commandments in the Bible 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.  There are other life-giving commandments that can only be learned through reading the Bible. 

Praying God’s commandments is very useful when you are praying for a person whose life needs turning around, about a social or world issue where God’s commandments are being disregarded or for forgiveness and repentance. 

Here are some examples of God’s commandments:

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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture commandments based on John 13:34.  “Dear God, you have commanded us in the Bible to love one another.  I pray that everyone involved in this situation might live out this commandment by having your love for each other.”

How to pray Scriptures using the wisdom of the Bible

When we pray for ourselves or for someone else there’s often an underlying need for wisdom.  Sending us 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.

The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  (James 1 :5 NIV)

Here are a few examples of wisdom found in the Bible that might 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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture based on Proverbs 3:27.  “Lord, help me to follow your wisdom to act and help this person because you have given me the means to do it.”

How to pray Scriptures using the authority given in the Bible

The Bible tells us to pray with confidence and authority.  This is especially true when we are praying against evil.  The Bible gives us the authority to stand against evil, resist evil and cast out evil.  This type of authoritative praying against evil is referred to as spiritual warfare. 

The Bible spells our position through Christ’s saving power that gives us access to God’s throne room, despite our sins and unworthiness.      

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,  but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  (Hebrews 4 :14-16 NIV)

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you .  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”  (Matthew 28:18 -20 NIV)

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”  (Mark 16:17,18 NIV) 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” ( Acts 1:8 NIV)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  (2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  (Ephesians 6:10,11 NIV)

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  Elijah was a man just like us.  He prayed earnestly that would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.”  (James 5:16,17 NIV)

 This power is given to those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.  If you’d like to know more about this read this article How to get to know Jesus personally.

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture based on Ephesians 6:11:    “God, I am taking my stand against all evil power at work in this situation based on the authority you have given me as a believer in Jesus Christ.”  

How to pray Scriptures using the human experiences of the Bible

When we pray, we need to know what might happen during and also 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 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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture based on Act 4.  “Lord, although I am in a dangerous situation like the early Christians, please send me the boldness to speak and act just as you sent boldness to them.”

How to pray Scriptures of blessing in the Bible

The Bible is full of blessings that were spoken over others.  Often parents would impart blessings upon their children and priests imparted blessings upon the nation.  Here are some examples of Scriptural blessings.

“Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”  (Mark 10:15 NIV)

 “May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness – an abundance of grain and new wine.”  (Genesis 27:28 NIV)

“From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people.”  (Psalm 3:8 NIV)

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (2 Corinthians 13:14)

 “May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem and may you live to see your children’s children.”  (Psalm 12 8:5,6 NIV)    

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture blessing based on Genesis 27:28: “May God grant you an abundant harvest of good things.”

How to pray Scriptures using prayer teachings in the Bible

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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say to pray scripture based on I Samuel 1:11-18:  “Lord, I come to you today like Hannah with tears and agony as I pray to you about my terrible situation.”

How to pray Scriptures using payers written in the Bible

The Bible records the actual words prayed by many people in a variety of circumstances. 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 prayer “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” (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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using  Matthew 26:39 NIV: “My Father, if it is possible, take this suffering from me.  May your will be done.”

How to pray Scriptures using the principles of prayer Jesus taught in the Bible

Jesus often taught about prayer 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 bold and persistent in prayer. He said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks find; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9 ,10 NIV)

Jesus told us to exercise faith when we pray, believing that God will answer us.  (Mark 11:24)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using Luke 11:9,10:  “Jesus you tell us to seek and we will find and to ask and it will be given.  Therefore I am making my request to you believing that you will respond.”    

How to pray Scriptures using the empowerment given people in the Bible

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.  Here are a few examples.

Prayer empowered Esther to go before the king to save the Jewish people 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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using Esther: “God, just as you empowered Esther to fast and pray and act courageously to save her people I am asking you to empower me to act as your servant in this matter I am praying about today.” 

How to pray Scriptures by finding and claiming a personal word from the Bible

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 a special way in our hearts and minds at the very moment we need them.  These are sometimes called rhema, or a particular and specific word from God that is personal.  

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)

This boosts prayer power immeasurably because when we pray, God often answers our prayers by replying to us through a variety of means.  A Scripture might come into your mind.  Someone may speak a word over you during ministry time.   You may be reading the Bible and a word or phrase jumps out at you.  You may randomly open the Bible and your eyes fall upon a particular phrase or a verse.  Or you may ask God for a personal word and then later find one that seems right.

Here’s an examples of personal word I 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)

In another case, I was asking God for a life purpose or vision statement.  After several months I came across this scripture:  “You will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings.”  (Isaiah 58:12 NIV)  I of course didn’t take it literally that I was supposed to begin a home construction business but rather more figuratively I was to carry on a ministry of helping people find the  path of prayer that would bring them home to God.    

How to pray Scriptures according to God’s will as revealed in the Bible

God’s will means God’s good and perfect plans, desires and visions for humans.  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 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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using I Thessalonians 5: “I thank you God for my current life circumstances believing that your will can be done through this situation in ways I don’t foresee.”   

How to pray Scriptures of God’s promises found in the Bible

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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using I John 1:9:  “God, I am confessing this sin to you claiming your promise that you will forgive me and make me clean and pure again.” 

How to pray Scriptures using the names and attributes of God found in the Bible

The Bible provides a rich resource of the names of God and the attributes of God that help us identify his all- sufficiency to cover our specific needs.  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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using Isaiah 25:4:  “Lord I thank you that  you are my refuge.  Please shelter me from the storm of stress aroud me and inside of me.”

How to pray Scriptures of praise and thanksgiving found in the Bible

Praise and thanksgiving are important parts of prayer.  The Bible is a treasury of actual prayers of praise and thanksgiving.  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.

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture using Psalm 145:3:  “Great are you Lord and most worthy of praise; your greatness no one can fathom.” 

How to pray Scriptures on forgiveness from the Bible

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)

In the parable of the prodigal son, the wayward son says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  (Luke 15:21 NIV) 

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)

Here is an example of the type of prayer you might say in order to pray scripture based on Psalm 51:  “Create in me a pure heart, O God.”

How to pray Scriptures substituting specific names for the pronouns in the text

There are some Bible verses and even entire chapters of the Bible which can be prayed as intercession for yourself or for someone else by personalizing it with someone’s name.

As an example, when I was on a prayer team for a weekend retreat, we had copies of Psalm 91 printed out with blanks in it wherever there was a pronoun referring to you/he/she.   We then prayed the whole Psalm substituting the person’s name for the blank. 

Here is an example where we placed and blanks and substituted the names:

___________ who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  _________ will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’  Surely he will save ______ from the fowlers’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover ___ with his feathers, and under his wings _____ will find refuge…  (Psalm 91:1-4 NIV with blanks inserted.)

How to  pray Scriptures meditatively using the Bible

This type of praying Scripture is somewhat different than the others covered so far.  This is a meditative use of Scripture called Lectio Divina where we allow the Bible to lead us into a deeper understanding of God.  You read a passage and when a phrase or word captures your attention, you meditate on it as the Holy Spirit speaks a word to your spirit. 

My personal experiences praying the Scriptures

I have read the Bible extensively over many years and as a result, often when I pray I find the Holy Spirit bringing to my mind phrases of Scripture and paraphrases of Bible verses that I can speak forth in prayer.   God uses this process in my personal prayer times, most notably when I have a big problem to pray about and I write down as a prayer in my journal.  As I write, Scripture comes to me and I jot it down as closely as I remember it. 

After I have finished praying, I then go back and use the Internet to find the actual location of the verse in the Bible.  I read the verse, then insert the Biblical notation into my prayer so I can remember that it comes from God’s word.  To see an example of a prayer that was created using this method read A strong Biblical prayer for healing for you or your loved one.        

Other helpful articles

Top ten Scriptures on prayer

How to stand in the gap in prayer

The basics of Christian prayer in Scripture

The teachings of Jesus on prayer

Scriptures to pray

Copyright Karen Barber 2019.  All rights reserved.