If you have never tried praying through the Bible as a way to engage more deeply with scripture, I highly recommend trying it!
I know that we live in a world that has little time – trust me, I have a three-year-old and another one on the way.
Our household frequently goes from chaos to, well, greater chaos.
But there are those glimpses of quiet moments in the morning or in the moments before bedtime where I can feel God drawing me to Himself.
I want to sit down and pray, but it’s hard to quiet my mind and focus long enough to put together a cohesive prayer.
That’s where praying through the Bible can help!
A Guideline to Praying Through the Bible
A general guideline to praying through the Bible is to follow these three steps:
- Read a passage of scripture
- Think about what God is trying to teach or show you
- Pray over it!
Sounds pretty simple right?
That’s because it is!
This isn’t meant to be complicated!
Praying through the Bible is a way to help you read more intentionally.
In order to pray over what you just read, you have to pay attention!
Don’t worry, I will walk you through an example in a minute of what this actually looks like.
Where to Start When Praying Through the Bible
Do you have a favorite book of the bible?
Is there a book of the Bible you have never read?
And if you have never opened the Bible before, maybe try starting in James, which is what I will use in my example below.
If you like going front to back, start in Genesis (the beginning of the Old Testament) or in Matthew (the beginning of the New Testament).
I do find it easier to pray through the New Testament, but the Old Testament has so many lessons that you can pray over too!
So don’t be intimidated by any part of the Bible!
Praying through the Bible is a great a way to dig into scripture and understand it better!
And remember, this isn’t about speed.
Some days you might read 5 verses and feel like you need to stop and intensively pray over that passage.
There is no race to get through the Bible.
Praying through the whole Bible is not a qualification for getting into heaven!
Believing in Jesus is the only thing that saves us from our sin.
There is nothing we can do, by our own efforts, to get into heaven (like reading the whole Bible).
If you have more questions on that, please check out God Loves You.
Praying Through the Bible with Your Style
Have you ever been around other people that have prayed out loud?
If so, you might have noticed that everyone has a different “style” for how they pray.
Some people are very formal in their prayers.
Some people talk to God very casually and might even call him their “home-boy”.
I find that I land somewhere in the middle of these two camps.
I believe that God is the maker and creator of the universe and therefore deserves my respect and honor.
But I also believe that God sees me as His child, which is why in my personal prayers, I address him as Abba or “Father” (more on this in a minute).
I consider prayer to be very intimate.
When I come to God in prayer, I view myself as a child sitting in their parent’s lap telling them about how they scraped their knee or how excited they were when they got a new book.
I think that God cares very intimately about us and wants to have these types of daily “conversations” with us.
If you don’t think that God wants to know your intimate thoughts, read through Psalm 139.
Recap of Psalm 139:
God, our Father, has “searched me” and “knows me” (vs. 1), knows “when I sit down or stand up” (vs. 2), “knows everything I do” (vs. 3), “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (vs. 13), and “every day of my life was recorded in your book…before a single day had passed” (vs. 16).
Does this sound like a God who is only there to smite us when we do something bad, or more like a God who loves us intimately?
Does this sound like a God we need to approach in a prescribed and stiff manner, or a God who gladly welcomes us to talk and walk with Him?
I think it’s the latter, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.
But I draw attention to this because I have included how I would pray through each passage.
If you think that prayer is meant to be very formal and rigid, you might struggle with my prayer style.
But I don’t want you to feel like you have to pray the way I do.
You can read through how I would pray, and then use whatever style of prayer you are comfortable with!
What Does Abba Mean?
One more thing before we jump in – as I mentioned above, you will notice that my prayer sections always start with the word Abba.
Why do I address my prayers to Abba instead of God?
Abba is an Aramaic term that means “Father”.
It is also the word that Jesus uses when he prays to God in one of his most intimate moments with the Father.
Check out Mark 14:36:
“And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”
In Jesus’ time, the term Abba was used by sons and daughters.
I love this image – when I go to pray to God, I want to be reminded that I am His child.
I want to come before God respecting and honoring Him as the God of the universe, but I can also go to God in prayer with the heart of a child, just as I would ask my earthly parent for help, guidance, and wisdom.
A Sample of Praying Through the Bible
So now you have a better understanding of how praying through the Bible works, but maybe you are still wondering what this actually looks like.
Let’s walk through a passage together!
Like I mentioned before, you don’t need to read 5 chapters a day or anything to have meaningful prayer with God.
You will see here in just 18 verses of the book of James that there is so much that you can pray over!
Remember, the 3 steps for praying through the Bible are:
- Read a passage of scripture
- Think about what God is trying to teach or show you
- Pray over it!
So let’s practice those 3 steps together.
I will share a few verses, discuss what stood out to me, and then provide a sample prayer.
Again, you do not have to pray my prayer.
Make this your own!
Quick Note: I normally share verses using the NIV version, but all of the verses below are from the NLT version.
Greetings from James
1 This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am writing to the “twelve tribes”—Jewish believers scattered abroad.
Faith and Endurance
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
When I read this passage, it stands out to me that God is not promising Christians an easy life.
In fact, this scripture PROMISES us trials so that God can develop our character.
I don’t like trials.
In fact, I very much like comfort.
So I should probably focus on changing my mindset about trials!
Abba, thank you for trials and troubles, as they help my faith grow and make me dependent upon You.
Help me to see these as opportunities to grow my faith and endurance and to have joy in the midst of them.
Help me to not be dependent on anything in this world except for You – that I may be perfectly complete in You.
I pray that I would not find my worth or identity in my spouse, kids, job, or accomplishments, but in You alone.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
I love that this passage says that if I ask God for wisdom then He will give it to me.
Boy do I need wisdom!
For being a good wife, for raising kids, for writing this blog, and for just about anything I do!
So I definitely want to pray for wisdom!
But this passage also says that I need to have my faith in God alone.
I struggle with waiting on God to act and not trying to rely on myself to get things done.
I am also easily distracted by the things of this world – money, possessions, accomplishments.
So I should definitely pray for unwavering faith like what James is talking about!
Abba, I ask You for wisdom just as Solomon did (see 1 Kings 3:1-15 for the story I’m referring to).
I know that You are a generous God, and I thank you for not withholding Your wisdom from me.
Abba, teach me to have an unwavering faith and to not be distracted by the things of this world.
Help me to not serve two masters, as Your Word says that we cannot serve both You and the world.
I choose You as my “master”, as my Lord and Savior.
Teach me how to choose You over the world.
Help me to resist the devil and his schemes to distract me and derail my faith.
Tear down any idols I have in my life to obtain earthly things like wealth, power, social status, accomplishments, raising the “smartest” kids, and being “better” than the person next to me.
Help me to have a firm faith in You.
Let my identity be that I am a follower of Jesus.
9 Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. 10 And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. 11 The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.
Oh this one hurts.
I am an achiever!
And I get a sense of security from building wealth.
Both things that God says will fade away.
What a good reminder that the things of this earth are very temporary!!
I need to ask God to help me to focus on things of eternal importance!
Abba, I am so thankful that our entry into heaven is not dependent on our wealth.
You give us all an equal opportunity to be Your sons and daughters through believing in Jesus.
Help me not to place any confidence in my wealth, as I know that money is easily lost.
Teach me to not put my trust in my own means because You will provide for all of my needs.
Help me to seek true “wealth” by developing my faith instead of my bank account.
12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Another tough passage!
More testing – ugh!
But a crown of life?
And a great reminder that while God only tests and does not tempt us, the devil is certainly out to tempt us!
He wants nothing more than to devour us!
Don’t believe me?
Check out my post the 3 Ways Satan Deceives Us.
Since the beginning of time, Satan has tried to lure us away from all that God promises – in this case, God promises a crown of life!
I want to remain firm in my faith so that I receive that crown!
But I am weak, so I definitely need to pray for God’s help in overcoming Satan!
Abba, help me to patiently endure testing and temptation by the devil.
I know that the devil wants nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy my life.
Abba, I know that You will never tempt me, and that it is my own pride and selfishness that the devil uses to tempt me.
Help me not to be tempted by my own desires which will lead me down the path to death.
I pray that You would reveal to me any strongholds that I am unaware of that the devil is using against me.
Help me take a clear look at my life to see where the devil is trying to attack me.
Teach me to quickly identify when he is at work and refute his efforts with prayer and speaking scripture over the situation.
I declare that the devil has no power over me or my family because we are covered by the power and blood of Jesus.
Help me to run the race of life well so that I will receive the crown of life that You promise to those who love You.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
How cool is it that God calls us his prized possession?!
Sometimes I get so caught up in everything going on in my life that I forget everything that God has done and is doing for me!
This is a time for me to just praise God in prayer!
Abba, thank you for the gifts that You give me that are completely undeserved.
You continually shower me with blessings.
This is evident from even the beautiful sunrises You bless me with in the morning as a reminder of Your goodness as I start each day.
Thank you for loving me so much that You sent Your Son Jesus to die on my behalf.
And that through the death of Jesus, I am able to live not in the shadows of the darkness of this world, but in Your light and truth.
Thank you for the hope of eternal life I have with You through Jesus.
Thank you for choosing me as a prized possession.
When I am questioning my worth, abilities, or beauty, please bring this scripture to my mind as a reminder of the immense value I have in You.
Moving Forward with Praying Through the Bible
I hope you can see the beauty of praying through the Bible.
Using some of God’s own words to inspire prayers of our own is so powerful.
It challenges us to understand the passages we read and really reflect on what it’s trying to communicate.
It also helps us to slow down as we read scripture.
You can’t mentally check out and skim the passage and still pray over what you just read.
So if you find yourself with just a few minutes a day, try praying through the Bible!
You don’t have to read chapters upon chapters of scripture in order to find something to pray over.
So take a few minutes to read a short passage of the Bible, ask yourself what God is trying to reveal to you in that passage, and then pray over it!
How do you engage with the Bible?
Do you journal?
Do you have a certain way that you read through the Bible?
Share with me in the comments below!