It is a command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and a promise that the “prayers of the righteous (because of Christ) are powerful and effective” (James 5:16) yet sometimes I don’t know WHAT to pray. I have prayed for a friend’s salvation for years, and the prayers begin to feel rote and empty after a while when I pray them in my own words and in my own “wisdom.” Praying with scripture is a beautiful way to claim God’s promises and use His own Words right back to Him. (How that must please Him!)
Below is a personal and beautiful story that God wrote in my life a few years back to reiterate to me the power of His living and active Word. I am still amazed at what an intimate God we serve as He speaks clearly to us when we pray specifically.
I was in a sorority in college, and, I think, out of 42 girls in my pledge class I was number 42 to marry. I was a bridesmaid, Scripture reader, and soloist in many of these weddings and, most often, wasn’t dating anyone seriously enough to bring along as my date. Weddings were celebratory and fun, but the longing in my heart to be married and have a family was magnified as each of my dear friends were married off. (You can also see in the picture above that I “caught the bouquet” at many weddings as well!)
When pledge sister number 41 was to be married, I had just ended a relationship and was really enjoying the pity party that I had created for myself. (By now, I was feeling like most of my friends had two to three children and I still didn’t have two to three impressive dates!) I did not want to attend this wedding because I knew that I would be the “33rd wheel” and feel overly self-conscious that I still had not been “successful” in the dating realm. I did not want to attend this wedding for very selfish reasons.
I began to pray. I prayed that God would give me strength to face my embarrassment. I prayed that God would give me wisdom to know that His will is best. I prayed that He would enable me to enjoy my friends and celebrate their lives, no matter how envious I was of their circumstances. My prayers were helpful, but it wasn’t until I read the following passage that my prayers truly became inspired.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:6-9
If what I believe about the Bible is true, then I am a treasured possession. I am not leftovers. I have not been forgotten. I am chosen. How precious!
I memorized the above verses and vowed that, as I began to feel awkward or insecure during the wedding weekend, I would pray through those words to remind me how precious I am to the Lord. As I arrived, the airport was filled with sweet friends who were announcing new pregnancies, family vacations, and anniversary trips. “I am holy. You have chosen me…” were the words ringing in my head to offset the lies I was hearing. As I walked into the wedding venue to take my seat, and squeezed in the middle of 12 couples, I reminded myself, “I am His treasured possession. He chose me.” I was amazed how often I needed these truths to combat the lies that the Evil One wanted me to believe and succumb to. It was amazing how much strength I gained from truth!
During the beautiful ceremony the pastor said, “I have never used the following verses for a wedding ceremony, but this is what the couple has asked that I preach on. It comes from the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 7.” I began to furrow my brow thinking, “There is no WAY he is about to quote ‘my verses’!”
And…he did. Word for word, he read the very scripture that I had memorized. I began to weep in my seat. God was speaking so clearly and beautifully to me in that moment. “I see you. I remember you. I have a plan that is best. Trust my love for you, dear child.” I am sure that my lactating and happily married friends must have thought I had emotional problems because of the tears that were rolling down my cheeks! It was a beautiful and precious moment between the Father and me. Had the pastor used another scripture, my prayer through Deuteronomy would have been sweet enough. But to use the very same verses that I was claiming was an extra blessing I received because I was praying His Word.
This story is a reminder to me to not only PRAY, but to pray with specificity and with scripture. He is to be found. He is not longing to hide Himself from us, but He also encourages us to seek. I can’t think of a better practice to use as a mom or as a wife. Praying through scripture is personal, powerful, and a reminder of the living and deeply loving God we serve.
And in case you are wondering, God did provide me with a wonderful husband—and a precious family, to boot! You can read about that journey here.
*Do you have a personal story about how God encouraged you specifically through scripture? Do you practice praying God’s Word back to Him? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!