Monday, June 22, 2009

Prayer 10: resources for learning to pray the Scriptures

I was challenged in college, and again in seminary (sometimes I’m hard-headed) to learn to pray the Scriptures. I’ve since found this a valuable and rich way to pray.

When we pray the Scriptures, we know that God approves of our prayers-- after all, we are praying His words back to Him! It can take some getting used to, however, to learn to do this. Also, we actually have to KNOW the Scriptures fairly well in order to be able to pray them!

I recommend the following as great places to start in learning to pray the Scriptures:
  • Face to Face, volumes 1 and 2, by Kenneth Boa-- these two volumes (subtitled “praying the Scriptures for intimate worship” and “praying the Scriptures for spiritual growth”) are set up in a daily devotional style, with each day (three months’ worth) including a prayer of adoration, confession, renewal, petition, intercession, affirmation, thanksgiving, and a closing prayer. (All Scripture passages are printed out, so it’s a great way to get acquainted with more Scripture, as well.)
  • Praying the Scriptures by Evan B. Howard-- while Boa’s books are designed to thrust you directly into praying the Scriptures, Howard gives a greater introduction to different types of biblical text, as well as different types of prayers, and how we find the two converging. This is much more of a “how-to” book, and gives a lot of insight into approach and method.
  • Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer by Eugene Peterson-- much more like Howard’s book than any of the others, Peterson walks us through different facets of the Psalms and discusses how these become prayerful tools. He focuses on things like language, story, rhythm, and liturgy (to name a few) and unpacks what they bring to our prayer life. Peterson has such a pastoral style that this book is an easy read; he has such rich insight that it will change how you read (and pray) the psalms.
  • Praying the Psalms: A Commentary by Stanley L. Jaki-- this book is just what the title suggests: one by one, Jaki works through the Psalms and draws out themes of prayer that are found within them. While there is some take-away in terms of how a psalm might be our prayer, Jaki focuses more on how any given psalm was the prayer of the one who wrote it. This is valuable insight, and protects us from taking a psalm out of its scriptural context and making it into something else.

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