Monday, February 16, 2015
Conversing With God
This past weekend by family and I attended a “Biblical Spiritual Disciplines for Real People” conference at our church, Oakwood Baptist, in New Braunfels. Texas. The Speaker was Dr. Donald Whitney of Southern Baptist Seminary in Kentucky. The topics focused in on two disciplines of prayer and Bible study. Dr. Whitney spoke with a sincere passion for the importance of spiritual growth. This week in the blog I want to share some thoughts from his talk on prayer.
My favorite section was his teaching on prayer as he opened my mind to a concept of prayer I had not heard of before. The concept was “Praying the Bible”. He started by saying we commonly pray about 6 main categories: family, our future, finances, work or school work, Church or ministry and current crises we find ourselves in. These 6 relate to our lives and that is fine as our lives are important to God. Yet he kept repeating the idea that we slack off in prayer because of a common problem. The problem is we continue to pray often the same words day after day saying the same old things. Therefore prayer tends to become boring and we give up praying, thinking the problem is us. Instead of self-blame he encouraged us to rework our method of praying to add vitality to it. That is where “Praying the Bible” comes to play.
The prayer method of “Praying the Bible” is not complicated. Actually it came across as simple, which I like as my mind likes simple methodologies. Before your prayer time you simply choose a passage of scripture from the Bible. Dr. Whitney encouraged the use of the Psalms but mentioned it can be used with other passages from the Bible as well. After you choose a passage or Psalm you read it over and then start your prayer using key verses from the passage God places on your heart to guide your prayer.
For example let’s say I choose Psalm 63 (NKJV)
1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.3 Because Your loving-kindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You. 4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it, Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
With this Psalm you may want to begin praying how you are thirsty to experience the reality of God’s presence in your life. Possibly God will bring to mind some friends or family who are experiencing a desert time in their lives so pray for refreshment for your spirit and theirs. You may then move into a section of thankfulness for God’s loving-kindness and seek to be an example of God’s love to those you meet in your workplace. With these few thoughts, you probably get the gist of what the concept of the method is getting at, in praying through a scripture passage.
Dr. Whitney gave everyone a time to try the method out with various passages of scripture. Many felt it was like a true conversation with God. Which if one believes as we Christians do, that the Bible is God’s Word to us; then by using a passage of the Bible as the foundation of a prayer it truly is an opportunity to allow God to speak to our hearts and minds spiritually. This also solves the initial stated problem of people giving up on prayer as they get bored with praying the same old things in the same old way day after day. With a different Bible passage each day we are allowing God to guide our prayers in new ways each day.
Dr. Whitney has several excellent books on spiritual growth that can be found on his website. He also offers free articles on a variety of spiritual growth topics. His website is biblicalspirituality.org. I would encourage you to check out some of the information he has available for your spiritual growth journey.
Reflection: Try “Praying the Bible” out by choosing a Psalm and using that as a guide for a prayer. Go to Dr. Whitney’s website and click on Resources and then click on Articles. Read an article of your own choosing and reflect over what is being said in the article.