How to Pray the Bible
This guest post comes from Jonathan Welch, the managing director of The Summit Institute (TSI) and one of the masterminds behind the Praying the Bible podcast. Praying the Bible makes it easier than ever to pray the Bible whenever you want and wherever you are.
The Challenges of Prayer
Every Christ-follower has heard the call to pray. We hear it from Jesus himself (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2). Our worship gatherings feature regular opportunities to pray. Other Christians invite us to pray. And there’s an ever-increasing list of books, sermons, and other resources encouraging prayer. At least at a cognitive level, we know we should pray.
Yet, if we’re honest, prayer is not easy, and obstacles to prayer abound. In our sinful self-reliance, we hesitate to ask for help in any area of our lives. We want to rely on our own time, talents, and abilities. Maybe we believe the lie that prayer doesn’t work, or we blame our (self-induced?) busyness. These statements are all common justifications for our prayerlessness. For the pastors and church leaders reading this post, we are certainly not immune from the ever-present temptation of prayerlessness.
At least at a cognitive level, we know we should pray. Yet, if we’re honest, prayer is not easy, and obstacles to prayer abound.
The Remedies in the Word
We cannot neglect prayerlessness in our lives. J.I. Packer reinforces the seriousness of prayer when he says, “I believe that prayer is the measure of a man, spiritually, in a way that nothing else is, so that how we pray is as important a question as we can ever face.” But how are we to pray?
The remedies to prayerlessness are found in the living and active Word of God. D.A. Carson affirms, “Just as God’s Word must reform our theology, our ethics, and our practices, so also must it reform our praying.” In other words, God’s Word shows us both what to pray and how to pray. The Bible offers us countless examples of prayer—spanning both Old and New Testaments—that we can adopt as our own prayers to God. And the Bible also provides us with biblical principles that inform how we should approach God in prayer. As examples, consider the prayer life of Jesus in the Gospels and the prayers of Paul throughout his epistles.
Praying the Bible Creatively
Yet, some of us still might not know where to begin. One of the best ways to jumpstart your prayer life is by taking a God-exalting, creative approach. Here at the Summit, we recently explored ways to creatively integrate prayer into our everyday lives. The result was Praying the Bible.
Inspired in part by The Daily Liturgy Podcast, we wanted this to be an interactive resource. When I hear the word “podcast,” I usually think about information intake. But Praying the Bible isn’t meant for just listening or learning; it’s meant for us to start doing.
What may come as instinct to many believers—particularly seasoned Christians—may not be so intuitive to others. So, a regularly-scheduled podcast provides a unique opportunity for us to teach our people how to pray the Bible in a style and format that engages the heart, mind, and voice beyond mere printed words. In each episode, you’ll listen as we read the Bible aloud. Then, we’ll give you specific instructions on what to pray, prompting you to pray God’s Word with your own voice. We also provide background music and space for listeners to actually pray right then and there before we move on to the next prayer point. And we also include Bible-saturated, scripted prayers from our team of writers and narrators as another way to model the principles of praying the Bible for our people.
Plus, podcasts (and cloud-based technology) allow us to reach people where they are—at work, at home, on the go, on their phones. Some might use it as a primer for longer prayer. Some might even use it to pray together in groups. The end goal is thousands more people encountering God by praying his Word with greater consistency and joy.
Some of us might be in a season of prayerlessness right now, while others might simply be looking for some new resources on prayer to recommend to those that you disciple and shepherd. Either way, join us for an episode of Praying the Bible. Here are some practical ways to utilize this resource:
- Invite a weary saint or new believer who struggles to pray to listen to the Praying the Bible podcast and pray along as much as he or she can.
- For those struggling to find quiet moments to pray, encourage them to use episodes of Praying the Bible on their commutes.
- Challenge faithful prayer warriors to explore new prayer habits with a resource like the Praying the Bible podcast.
- Invite someone you disciple to go through a few episodes of Praying the Bible together. Listen separately throughout the week, and meet up once a week to talk about what God’s been teaching you and spend more time praying together.
- Transform your small group Bible study into a prayer meeting with the Praying the Bible podcast. Listen to an episode out loud together. Press pause after each prayer prompt and take turns praying to God in response. Simply press play whenever your group is ready to move on to the next point.
Or better yet, ask God if there are ways he might be leading you to creatively encourage your church to pray the Bible. In the spirit of the saying attributed to Andrew Murray, “The man [or woman] who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.”
 J.I. Packer in My Path of Prayer, ed. David Hanes (Worthing, West Sussex: Henry E. Walter, 1981), 56.
 D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), 17.