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Intersect: the soul in paraphrase

INTERSECT (Where the Bible Meets Life) is a regular column of ONE Magazine featuring Dr. Garnett Reid, a member of the Bible faculty at Free Will Baptist Bible College. Email Garnett

ALL OF US NEED GOD. There’s no denying that. So what do we do about it? We pray; that’s what we do. Like a baby’s crying, prayer is “letting God in” on how we feel when we’re hungry or dirty or when we need holding. George Herbert called prayer “the soul in paraphrase.”

But for many of us, it’s hard to pray. We offer a bushel of excuses: too busy, too tired, just forgot, not in the mood—the list continues. Just choose the one that fits your neglect today and plan to do better tomorrow. The sad thing is, tomorrow becomes a repeat of today, and before long we’ve moved out of God’s neighborhood.       

One excuse for poor praying is that we don’t have much to tell God. We pray for three or four minutes, then we run out of things to say. When that happens to you, try this: pray Scripture. Read a passage, then go back through it slowly. As you do, turn what you read into prayer. This approach has energized my prayer life and afforded me an intimacy with the Father I hadn’t known in a long time.

Actually, precedent for this method comes from Scripture itself. Biblical prayers are laced with words and concepts from prior passages. For example:

  • God’s self-revelation in Exodus 34:6-7 shows up later in several prayers, notably Nehemiah 9:17.

  • Mary’s Magnificat echoes Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2.

  • Jeremiah’s complaints borrow language and sentiment from Job.

  • The Lord’s Prayer adapts phrases from Isaiah, Chronicles, and other Old Testament books.

  • The disciples pray Psalm 2 in Acts 4:25-26.

The benefits of praying Scripture are many. We not only strengthen our prayer lives, we also increase our familiarity with the Bible. As Robert Crawford used to say, we also “pray about things dear to God.”

Voicing biblical content in our petitions teaches us the language and mindset of praise and confession. We develop a way of thinking conducive to God-centered living. Praying His Word pleases God. It helps us hide His Word in our hearts and keeps it on the tips of our tongues to use for the right occasion.

Recently my devotional guide called for me to read Deuteronomy 22-26. Here’s a sample of what I prayed as a result:

  • I acknowledge your call to love my neighbor, Lord. As you care for me in the “small things,” help me to do the same for (my neighbors) Doug, Bridget, Ray, and Wanda.

  • Keep me from the mindset of my culture in making sex a trivial thing.

  • Lord, protect my family from the anguish of divorce.

  • As I meet people today, help me to remember that I was a slave, and that you redeemed me.

  • “All who act dishonestly are an abomination to the LORD” (25:16). Guide my steps in integrity today, Father.

  • We are your “special treasure,” O Lord. Help us to keep your laws, and so be a holy people.

Remind your Heavenly Father what He’s told you. He’ll be glad to hear it.





©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists