Praying Scripture

Mary Kassian

Mary Kassian | 03.24.09
Twitter: @MaryKassian


Do you ever get “stuck in a rut” in your prayer life? Praying Scripture will help. Praying Scripture is a method of prayer practiced by the early church. It involves reading, pondering, listening and praying God's Word:

1.  Read
Read the passage of Scripture slowly. Let’s use a passage from Psalm 1:1-2 for example:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

2.  Reflect
Think about how to personalize the text and apply it to your own life. Take note of any particular verse or phrase that seems to be of particular importance. For instance, in the above verses you might take note of the word “Blessed” and “delight is in the law of the Lord.” You might want to think about where you are seeking happiness and delight. Do you delight in God’s Word?

3.  Resonate
Respond to/agree with the passage by praying it back to God. Pray the words of the Scriptures, applying them to your life or circumstance. You could pray Psalm 1:12 in the following way:

“Lord, please help me not to walk according to the advice of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of scoffers. Help me find my happiness and delight in Your word, and to meditate on Your word all the time.” (Or, you could pray this as an intercessory prayer for your husband, children, or for a government official, church leader, or friend.)

4.  Receive
Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation is a two-way process. So it’s helpful to take a moment to listen to what the Lord is saying back to you. In the above instance, the Lord might speak to you about an area of your life in which you are listening to the advice of the world instead of to His Word.
Praying Scripture is one of the most effective ways to pray, because you know you’re praying according to the will of God. And He has promised, that when we pray according to His will, He hears and answers.

So here are my suggestions: 

  • As you are reading Scripture, make a habit of praying Scripture. Use the method I outlined above.
  • Write out specific Scripture verses to pray for yourself and/or for others. You could collect prayer verses for your husband on some loose-leaf pages and keep them in a section of a binder. Then, when you pray for him, you can turn to that part of the binder and pray through the verses.
  • Pray Scripture whenever you can. If you are praying at a prayer meeting, open your Bible to a relevant verse and pray that verse. Let the Word of God direct your prayers.

Do you pray Scripture? Give an example of a verse you’ve been praying for yourself or a loved one.

Topics: Relationship with God


  1. Isn't lectio divina practiced in the Roman Catholic
    church, and also part of the "new" contemplative
    "Christianity" and blending of new age beliefs and
    the true church. Perhaps we should check a
    little further into some of these "new" ways of praying
    to be certain that we are not leading some of those
    less mature believers into something that would
    not be helpful .
    posted by J.L. Smith
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm
  2. I agree with your statement above this type of prayer is definitely apart of the new contemplative Christianity and is causing some concern. For some help on this issue please go to Lighthouse Trials Research
    and type in lectio divina in the search button. You will get a lot of good information on this subject.
    posted by T. Brown
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 3:16 pm
  3. We also have to remember that Satan has no original material, but perverts what God has created as good.
    If a new age or some other religion distorts God's word, then they are in error.
    When we take God's word and do not distort it, but use it as it is intended - for doctrine, reproof, etc - then we are safe.
    I believe that God is pleased when we take his words to heart and use them in communion / conversation with Him.
    posted by Mary Hanneman
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm
  4. Ladies, you are correct. Today, in the Roman Catholic church, some have taken the practice of praying Scripture which was taught by the early church (in about 200 AD) and incorporated new age mysticism into it. They mistakenly place greater emphasis on what they subjectively "receive" than on what Scripture objectively says.

    However, if we humbly submit to the Word, I believe we can pray Scripture without fear of following their error. I think of the example of Daniel, whose prayer in Daniel 9 includes quotes from Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Jeremiah, 1 Kings, and the Psalms. Daniel read the word and prayed the word. His prayer was word-saturated.

    The Word is what guards and keeps us from error - in how we live and how we pray. The Word is a vitally important part of prayer. Praying Scripture is a discipline that helps us in our prayer lives.
    posted by Mary Kassian
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm
  5. Look up L.D on Wikipedia Ladies. This gives a good unbiased decription of the practice. Sadly my prayerlife is not as disciplined as it should be to think about using L.D. It was used by monks in the 12th century. Then in 2005 Pope bendict XVI urged the use of it. Mary's 4 sections correspond with the 4 stages of Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio & Contemplatio. In the Catholic tradition they may pray using Icons to prepare themselves, which we would have issues with. I think the biggest struggles we would have is the Meditatio stage. Because of the New-Age cults, we are wary of the word 'medtition'. But the true sense of the word is to 'give serious thought or study' to something. I like to think of meditation as more of 'chewing the cud', sorry if that's an British term. Mulling something over. It's not emptying our minds, becoming like zombies, floating around somewhere in the atmosphere. God's Word is absolute Truth. So surely we can read His Word, meditate on it/mull it over/think hard on it, and then pray it back to Him. After all, He did give it to us didn't He. Or are we doubting that our Bible is the inspired- Word of God.
    posted by Deb Jones
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm
  6. I was praying Ephesians 1:17-19 for my kids today... that God may give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of him. That they might have the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which he has called them, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward them, according to the working of his great might.
    Ladies, I LOVE praying Scripture! I can sense the presence of God's Spirit when I pray his Word.
    posted by Mary Kassian
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm
  7. It really boils down to the condition of the heart doesn't it? Prayer is open, honest and trusting communication between us and the Father. If a word is speaking directly to my heart whether it be for me or for someone I love then how can it be wrong. God is big enough to correct my course when I stray in the wrong direction. I recently learned I was praying out of my flesh for my husband rather then God's will. He showed me this. I then asked how should I pray for him. He pointed to His word and how Christ and the Apostles demonstrated prayer for us, with sincerety for the well being of the individual and not out of there own needs. I am not a intellectual and do not understand all that was being spoken of before hand, but I believe sometimes we think to much.
    posted by Judith Gonzalez
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 9:32 pm
  8. I totally agree with you, Mary, God's Word is what straightens out our incorrect theology about so many things. I too, feel a sense of God's presence when I am praying Scripture. It is not a ritual or a chant that I mindlessly speak. I am thinking about each phrase and how it fits to a certain person or situation. I learned to do this a while back. And there is nothing more powerful than knowing I am praying in the center of God's will. I pray more confidently to my Father, like the conversations I can now have with my grown children. I believe God loves to hear His own Words coming back to Him, as I love to hear my children use some of the same words I spoke to them as children. Keep the faith.
    posted by Starr
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 9:57 pm
  9. Thank you Mary for the Ephesions: 17-19 scripure. It describes what I want for my family exactly. I will pray it from now on God is so good to bless us with His Word. I have learned so much from this series on prayer. Thank you and may God bless you for this ministry.
    posted by Sherry Kremis
    on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:46 pm
  10. God, wants us to pray his word, what is so hard about not understanding that, i have seen my pastors and my mom do it many of times and your right we are praying in his will and that is what he wants, i think oraying the word is awesome his word is his word and he alone is so true to it and that what makes him such an awesome God
    posted by Natalie Carrizales
    on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 9:52 am
  11. One of the prayers I pray is from Ezekeil 33:11, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked trun from his way and live." I pray this prayer over my unsaved spouse.
    I often pray over myself that I will be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (Corinthians 14:58).
    I pray Psalms 90:14 over my children that the Lord will satisfy them each morning with His unfailing love that they may sing for joy and be glad all the days of their lives.
    Over my marrigae I pray Matthew 19:6, Therefore what God has joined togather, let not man separate.
    posted by Elizabeth
    on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 12:15 pm
  12. Ephesians 1:15-19 is one I have used in praying for others and for myself. Paul says: "Since, then, I heard of this faith of yours in the Lord Jesus and the practical way in which you are expressing it towards fellow-Christians, I thank God continually for you and I never give up praying for you; and this is my prayer. That God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the all-glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realise how great is the hope to which he is calling you - the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians - and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." Substituting the name of a dear friend or loved one or even my own for those pronouns gives me the ability to pray exactly as Paul did for the people of Ephesus. Wow!
    posted by ann
    on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm
  13. Colossians 1:9-11 and Ephesians 3:14-21 are passages I pray often for friends and family. There are some powerful phrases in those passages, like "that they may be filled with the fullness of God."; and "to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Thank you, Mary for your instruction in this area. I have much room to grow in my prayer life--especially in being consistent to pray Scripture. "Oh, how I love thy Law, it is my meditation all the day." May that be true of all of us seeking to be True Women!
    posted by Vivian
    on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 5:17 pm
  14. Hi Mary,

    Thank you for sharing this post. What comes to my mind is 1 John 5:14-15. What better way to be praying in the will of God, than to be praying scripture for someone! (I know we must still be led by the Holy Spirit.) Over the years I have often based my faith on various promises for God's Word, or prayed a certain scripture for someone in time of need. The idea of praying scripture on a regular basis is a new one to me, however it bears witness with me that this is totally scriptural! As you said, Daniel's prayer was full of scripture. I'm sure Paul's prayers and other prayers in the Bible either contain scripture or are scripture based (Solomon's prayer in dedicating the temple comes to mind!). Praise the Lord for all the beautiful posts above. I am especially looking forward to praying scripture for loved ones and for this nation. Actually I think I do quote scriptures sometimes in my prayers, without even thinking about it. But I think I'll start to be more intentional. 2 Tim. 3:16-17!
    In His love,
    posted by Leslie S.
    on Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm
  15. Hi again -- first reference in post above should be:

    1 John 5:14-15

    posted by Leslie S.
    on Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm
  16. When I had no joy I looked up alot of joy promises and prayed them. Mary said"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in the God of my salvation" Praying and speaking truth transforms your mind and thinking. Now 'With joy I draw water from the well of salvation!"
    The prayers of Paul are strong and relevant to today. I have been praying Eph 1:16- 23 for my fellowship, family, friends and myself. We are to seek God's wisdom--the principal thing stated in Proverbs. So to pray for it is wise :). He says we have not because we ask not. Blessings~
    posted by Rose
    on Friday, March 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm
  17. Mary, I appreciate this thread about prayer; just now reading it although it was written last year.

    I loved hearing you speak at the TW 2010 conference in Chattanooga. I have been praying for an extended family member who's "come out of the closet." Your message was just the thing I needed to hear; it revved up my determination to keep praying and keep being a witness--offering him truth instead of easing back from the lies he's chosen to believe and what he's chosen to use as a defense for his case. Creation itself is wonderful "proof" of God's intentions and design!! Ah, that message was powerful! Just powerful!

    Praying Scripture is something I do often; appreciating the expressions of others when my own words and expressions lack. During the day, my heart and mind is in a constant state of prayer..."Pray without ceasing..." This feels so comfortable to me; it's like a conversational time with the Lord. He does speak to me as I recall Scripture. I count this as a way of hearing the Lord give me answers to what I'm praying about. The Holy Spirit's presence is quite evident.

    But, to specifically sit down and pray with a greater concentration is difficult for me, I'll have to admit--and I hate admitting it! Satan really uses this "lack" on my part to bring out the guilt, further creating the atmosphere of "failure." Part of this guilt comes because there really is SO MUCH to pray about! It seems like I do well to keep myself aligned and in right relationship, and praying for immediate concerns of family and close friends; missionaries, etc. Every which way I turn there is more and more to pray about!

    One of the things I took from the conference really wasn't anything that was said in so many words by any one person. I do believe the Holy Spirit revealed it by helping me piece together in my heart specific guidelines that includes being reasonable...being reasonable with myself, with my marriage, with my family, with my responsibilities and with my prayer life.

    If you don't mind, would you be willing to share a little about "praying our territory" without the guilt of creating more territory to pray about? Does this question make sense? I think it almost sounds selfish, but I need to be 'reasonable!' and I suspect that you might have some wisdom to share that would not only be beneficial to me, but to others who might experience this same difficulty. (I'm not asking for prayer to be easy; I know Scripture points out that prayer is sometimes really hard!)

    Thank you!
    posted by Jeanne
    on Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm
  18. If we don't pray the Scriptures; what else shall we pray?

    My favorite book on praying according to the Scriptures is Matthew Henry's, A Method for Prayer.

    Have a most blessed week!
    posted by Becky @ Daliy On My Way to Heaven
    on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm
  19. Hey Ladies,

    I was directed here by Tim Challies blog. Good stuff. Praying the Word of God is necessary and essential to our prayer life. Often when we do not know what to pray or how to pray it is an awesome guide.

    Also, can not wait to check into the lectio divina debate. I was taught this method many years ago at a rather liberal church camp by a liberal denomination. Can not wait to see what the negative is surrounding it.
    posted by Brandon
    on Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm
  20. great article. reminds me of bonhoffer's admonision to pray out of the richness of the Word, not from the poverty of our own hearts
    posted by aleksandra
    on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:16 am
  21. I had a woman come to me and state that she was going to pray for me a husband; I was offended. My question to her was, how can you pray for me a husband when you know not what I want? Mary, where in the bible did a woman actually prayed for God to give her a husband.
    posted by LaSonia Michele
    on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 5:51 am
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  23. Thank you for the post. Many can distort anything they want to distort and satan surely knows how to do so. Anything that is founded upon truth will be distorted by him. I do not see any distortion in how you approached this subject. To me, letting His Words abide in me helps my prayers. I don't pray with intentions of GETTING something…I want to pray with the intention of BEING more for Him. If there is a need in my life, I do pray for it, but when I do my heart has to bow to His will. When I am bending to His will He helps me in my attitudes and opinions. Using Scripture helps me to bend my will toward His. Thanks again.
    posted by Margie LoVette
    on Monday, June 30, 2014 at 3:13 pm

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