Praying the Prayers of the Bible
Over the years, I've prayed the prayers of the Bible and made them my own. At times, I felt God's presence as I did this, and, at other times, I felt nothing! Because I know that we're not to be led by my feelings, I tried not to get discouraged when it felt like I was in the desert praying to sand. But, if we're honest, I'm sure we would all say that those dry times made it pretty hard to keep going. However, if you persevere, you begin to sense something deep in your spirit and you know that God is there. When in the desert, keep walking to live.
There are times when I pray and I really wonder if I'm doing it right. I've been a Christian for a very long time. I've read many, many books on prayer, heard more than my share of sermons on prayer, listened to teachers tell me about prayer, and, in the end, I still needed to figure out what worked for me, not them. Some of what I learned really helped. Especially when I was brand new and didn't realize that all I had to do was talk to God. I could be me and just pour out my heart to Him and He would love me and listen to me. Anyone who's been around children understands that concept. They tell you things in a straightforward way and are totally honest. Even if they're wrong, we don't mind because we love them so much and we know they're still learning and growing.
As I grew in my prayer life and practiced it more, I realized that the most satisfying times I spent with God were when I just talked to Him and listened for His voice. I also realized that, when I pray the Word, I don't have to worry about whether or not I'm praying according to His will . It's His Word, so it's also His will. I pray the Word out loud. The more I do it, the more I remember it and the more impact it has on me. I can pray the same Scripture over and over and find myself crying or inspired by it each time. The repetition causes my heart to open to what I'm saying and hearing. The more my heart opens, the more the Word takes root in me and impacts me. As I personalize it - saying me, mine, I - the deeper it sinks into my spirit.
God's Word isn't just a generic book, it's totally personal. If you're reading it, it's talking to you; it's changing you. Hebrews 4:12, The Voice, says this, "The Word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart." Ok, since God obviously knows your thoughts and your will (intentions), you might as well be completely honest with Him when you pray. Please note that Hebrews does not say that the Word is cutting you open and then condemning you, finding you lacking, and rejecting you. No, it's just the opposite. The Word cuts into us to change us into the likeness of Christ. It's a good thing that's happening. God doesn't condemn those who have Christ living in their hearts. He sees us through Christ; after all, we have become one with Him. To be "judged" does not mean your destination is hell. God is not like an earthly judge who may send you to prison. God IS love so, He only wants you to become like Him. That dividing and judging may hurt a little - your pride might suffer a blow, your lifestyle may have to change, you may have to ask someone's forgiveness - but in the long run, you will find a freedom you never had before.
Right now, I'm praying 4 particular Scriptures every day: Ephesians 1:17-23, Ephesians 3:16-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9b-14. Each time I do, they touch me in a new way. There's a long list of prayers in the Bible, just google "prayers in the bible" and you'll find them. Make them personal and use the ones that mean the most to you in your current circumstances. Pray out loud. I promise you, it's a great thing to do and over time you will be changed. Since God is all about our hearts, the first changes will happen on the inside, and, later, they will show up in multiple areas of your life - how you talk, treat others, treat yourself, think, react, and on and on.
Start with the Scriptures I just gave you. I have them typed out in a document I can pull up on my phone or iPad or computer. I also have them written out on some cards and highlighted in my Bible. I occasionally change the version I am reading from. I just changed from New American Standard to The Voice. They're also great in the Message Bible. Find one you like and go for it! You can't go wrong because it's God's own voice speaking to you each time.
Here's a sample from The Voice:
Phil. 1:9-11, "Father, may my love grow more and more in wisdom and insight - so I will be able to examine and determine the best from everything else. And on the day of the Anointed One, the day of His judgment, let me stand pure and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness that ripens through Jesus the Anointed. All this I pray, with a view to God's ultimate praise and glory.