Five ways to pray with the Bible

Christians believe that when they read the Bible God speaks. If you are new to Bible reading as a Christian it is important to recognise that it is slightly different to reading other books.

We might read other books to learn things; to understand more about our world; to get to grips with who we are as people; to find out how to make good decisions; to unravel how we feel about something and so on. Reading the Bible involves all of these things – and more – but it also involves asking God to speak to us and listening with ears of our heart in order to hear what he might have to say today.

As a result it is important to begin in the right kind of way, with prayer. You can do this in all sorts of ways. The simplest is just to ask God to be with you as you read and to show you what he wants you to hear, but you might find it helpful to say some set words before you begin. Here are five tips 

1. Invite God to speak 

You could quote the words the prophet Eli said that Samuel should say when God wanted to speak to him: 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening’. (1 Samuel 3.9)

2. Repeat the beautiful words from Psalm 119

Pray, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. (Psalm 119.105)

3. Reflect on the words from Hebrews 4

'The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.’ (Hebrews 4.12-13)

4. Use a written prayer

Open my mind, Lord, as I read today

so that I learn more of you;

Open my heart, Lord, to feel your love

Speak to me, challenge me and make me more like you.

Amen.

5. Pray as you read the Bible

There are a range of different ways of praying while you read the Bible. Here are just two. These methods work best with a short passage of about 10-15 verses long.

  • Our Lyfe material offers a very simple way of praying with the Bible. The idea is to read the passage though several times, reading it slowly, using your imagination to picture the scene and soak it up. As you read, keep praying and look out for one or two points that really impact you.  We call these 'shockers' and 'blockers'. Shockers - something from the text that stands out or surprises you. Blockers - something that raises questions or you find hard to understand.
  • A similar but slightly more complex model is what is known as the Swedish Bible Method.
    As with the Lyfe method, you begin by reading the passage a few times, praying as you read, then reflect on nine different questions.

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