If you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you know that I like to pray the scriptures, taking the actual words in the Bible and turning them into prayers. It doesn’t matter what the need is (wisdom, physical health and safety, diligence or self-control, favor at school or work, endurance in times of trial, healing for broken relationships…anything, really), God’s Word has got you covered.
For instance, if Robbie has a lacrosse game (and if you know anything about men’s lacrosse, you know that the main point is to get the ball in the goal, but the other main point is to use a long metal stick to hit the guy who has the ball), I might lift a prayer for his protection out of Psalm 91: Don’t let any harm befall Robbie; command your angels to guard him in all his ways. (Psalm 91:10-11)
Likewise, when Hillary is facing a tricky problem at work, or if she has a big presentation to do, I might borrow from Psalm 90: May the Lord’s show his approval to Hillary and make her efforts successful. (Psalm 90:17, NLT)
If I find myself facing uncertainty about one decision or another, I like to draw on verses that showcase God’s promised guidance, like this one: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8).
Using the Bible this way – letting God’s words shape your prayers – infuses them with meaning, creativity, and power. It also helps shape your perspective, as words filled with faith and hope and encouragement take up the battle against things like sickness, worry, or fear.
Last year, I told you how I spend a little time every December thinking about Robbie and each of our kids. I ask God to show me how he wants to bless or provide for them in the coming year, or to alert me to any particular needs they might have. Usually, one or more specific concerns or opportunities makes its way to the forefront of my mind: Maybe I sense that someone needs perseverance to make it through a particularly challenging circumstance or relationship. Maybe someone needs divine wisdom for an impending change, like choosing a college or making a career move. Maybe someone else has a tendency to grow fearful or anxious, and they need help trusting God. Or maybe someone is just not being very nice to their siblings, and they could use a little more kindness or compassion in the coming year.
I let these thoughts gel, and then I find a verse that “fits” and turn it into a prayer, one that I will return to over and over again during the coming year. (I wrote about these “annual prayers” in a post last December; click here if you want to read that one, or if you want to see a photo of the “prayer hands” we make.)
Want to find your own prayer verse(s) for 2016?
You’ll find a whole catalog of them, arranged topically, at the end of each chapter in Praying the Scriptures for Your Children and Praying the Scriptures for Your Teenagers. Or, just open your Bible and ask God to pick a verse or two for you; the Psalms are a great place to start hunting.
Write your prayer on an index card (or a paper hand!) and date it. Keep it someplace where you’ll see it often…and then pray with confidence and joy, knowing that God hears you (1 John 5:14) and that his word will never return empty, but will always accomplish his desires and purposes. (Isaiah 55:11)
Happy praying – and all God’s best to you and yours in 2016!
And P.S., If you’re pressed for time (God doesn’t care, but if you’re as uptight as I am, you might want to have your prayer verse at the ready by midnight tomorrow), help yourself to one of my current “one-size-fits-all” favorites:
Make ____ glad by your deeds, O Lord; let ____ sing for joy at the works of your hands. (Psalm 92:8)
Fill ____ with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that ____ may live a life worthy of you, Lord, and please you in every way. (Colossians 1:9-10)
Don’t let ____ be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, may ____ present his/her requests to you. And may your peace, which transcends all understanding, guard his/her heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)