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News / 2021 / 11 / 01

Praying Scripture

1 November 2021

Praying Scripture
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Praying Scripture

Prayer can seem like a difficult practice. How do I pray? What words do I use?

My prayers do not sound like those of that other person, they are so good at praying.

This can be a barrier to our even trying to pray. We don’t think that our attempts at prayer matter or that they are even real prayers.

Praying scripture can be of assistance to all of us. Those of us who are new to prayer, and those of who have been praying for a while; we can all benefit from praying scripture.

According to Adele Calhoun, praying scripture ‘is a way of entering deeply into the text with a heart alert to the unique and personal word from God.’1 When we pray scripture we let go of our agendas for God, we let go of our shopping list of requests, and we are in a state of openness and attentiveness to God and his Word.

Many Christians have found the book of Psalms to be of assistance in their prayers. Here we find prayers that give words to our experiences, of awe and wonder about God, to distress and anger at our circumstances, to even blaming God for what has happened. The Psalms of lament are helpful when I am going through a tough time. A Psalm of lament is where the writer of the Psalm cries out to God in a time of distress, confusion or despair. The writer seeks God’s intervention and deliverance from the distress. The Psalm of lament often ends with expressions of trust in God and a feeling of hope and joy.

  • Try praying a Psalm of praise, this can be powerful when I pray it aloud
  • When you are in pain or hurt, pray one of the Psalms of lament. There are Psalms of communal lament, and others that are an individual lament
    • Communal lament: Psalm 12, 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85, 86, 90,
    • Individual lament: Psalm 3, 6, 13, 22, 25, 28,31, 44, 56, 57, 71, 77, 86, 142.
  • If you are concerned for your community or church, pray one of the prayers from the New Testament, examples are Ephesians 1:15-21, Philippians 1:3-6,9, John 17
  • If you are convicted of your own sinfulness, psalms of confession such as Psalm 51 or 32 can be helpful.

Kenneth Boa has published a couple of books on Praying the scriptures2, with each day containing scriptures for prayers of adoration, confession, renewal, petition, intercession, affirmation and thanksgiving.


1Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform us, Downer’s Grove, Illinois: IVP, , 2005, p 246.
2 Kenneth Boa, Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Intimate Worship Volume 1 and 2, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997


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