The Challenge of Praying through the Bible
A few years ago, I decided to pray through the Bible. I had read somewhere that George Mueller made a regular practice of praying through the Bible every year while on his knees, so I decided to try it myself.
I devised a plan based on Mueller's life and Psalm 119:164, which says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” I decided my “seven times a day” would be 6:00, 8:00, and 10:00 a.m.; noon, and 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00 p.m. My plan was to take out my Bible and invest 20 minutes praying in whatever way I was prompted while I read.
It was an ambitious plan. If successful, I would end up praying two hours and 20 minutes a day.
Lessons Learned It did not go exactly as planned. But here are some valuable lessons I learned that encouraged me to continue the practice of praying through the Bible:
- There is plenty of prayer material in the Bible!
- It was almost impossible to pray every two hours between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. every day. On average, I was able to pray four or five times each day. Sometimes I was motivated to pray for 15 or 20 minutes; sometimes only five minutes.
- It became easier to pray so many times each day as the weeks went by. I found it becoming more of a habit. I was pleased that my enthusiasm lasted as I prayed through the entire Bible.
- Praying through the Bible allowed God to bring to mind things I needed to pray about. God made certain things stand out: sins, examples, commands, or promises. I believe I was praying more what God wanted me to pray about and less what I wanted to pray.
- In many Old Testament books, several chapters provided me few promptings for prayer. Perhaps praying through the Bible a few more times will provide increased enlightenment.
- Praying through the Bible is a combination of reading, meditation, and prayer.
- I looked for recorded prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer, the prayer of Jabez, the prayer of Moses, and the prayers of David in the Chronicles. I tried to pray the words as they appear in the Bible yet personalized them to my specific situations.
- I spent more time praising God than I would have without having Scripture in front of me because much of the Bible refers to the attributes and actions of God.
- Praying on my knees helped me focus. But kneeling prayer is difficult when away from the privacy of your own home or when your office doesn’t have a door you can shut. By the end of the year, I was rarely praying on my knees. As much as I wanted to emulate Mueller, it was hard with my daily schedule.
- I used an inexpensive Bible I could carry with me at all times. As I read through a passage the first time, I used a red pen to highlight key points. On the second read-through, I used a blue pen as I prayed a passage.
- It took me about six months to pray through the Bible the first time. I am proceeding through it much slower the second time. I find myself praying longer prayers as I take my time through a passage.
- God can use any passage to prompt me to pray. What I pray about might not be directly related to the passage, but it will be related to my life through the work of the Holy Spirit. For instance, Exodus 16:36 says that an omer (a unit of measure) “is one-tenth of an ephah.” God used the words one-tenth to remind me that the recommended Old Testament gift to God was one-tenth of my increase. This convicted me to pray about where I was currently giving my tithes and offerings. It was not a direct correlation to the passage, but God used it to prompt me to pray about a specific area of my life.
The longer I prayed, the more I realized there is no right way or wrong way for me to pray through the Bible. I just did it—and learned as I went along. Your experience may be different from mine, but it’s worth the effort to see God’s Word come alive in your prayer life.
GEORGE WHITE has developed his own website about the pursuit of Jesus at practical-discipleship.com