Pray the Bible?
It is made our duty and prescribed as a remedy against disquieting care, that in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we should make our requests known to God. And it is part of the Parrhsia, the boldness, the liberty of speech (so the word signifies), which is allowed us in our access to God, that we may be particular in opening our case and seeking to him for relief; that, according as the sore and the grief is, accordingly the prayer and the supplication may be by any man. Not that God needs to be particularly informed of our condition, he knows it better than we ourselves do, and our souls too in our adversity; but it is his will that we should thus acknowledge him in all our ways and wait upon him for the direction of every step, not prescribing, but subscribing to infinite wisdom, humbly showing him our wants, burdens, and desires, and then referring ourselves to him, to do for us as he knows fit.
Matthew Henry, Method for Prayer
Resorting to a more scriptural pattern of prayer may be a simple (but profound) answer to many problems in our practice of prayer. There are a number of reasons that could be given as to why Christians should “Pray the Bible,” but the ones below combine to make a rather convincing argument:
- Praying scripturally will teach us what prayer is, even while we do it.
- It will correct “shopping list” views of prayer which abound in the Christian community.
- It will begin to solve in our own minds the question of “unanswered prayer.”
- It will remind us of just how much there is to pray about day by day.
- It will teach us of the extreme urgency of prayer.
- It will return proportion to prayers long on petition, but short on adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.
- It will instruct us how best to pray for ministers, missionaries, and one another.
- It will show us the proper way to approach God in prayer.
- It will remind us of the good things that God does for us (which we, more often than not, take for granted).
- It will remind us to always give thanks to God (which, paradoxically, is so important for our own assurance of His faithfulness in answering prayer).
- It will begin to engrave in our minds biblical patterns of thought which can help immunize us from the enticing folly of the world’s view of life.
- It will force us to rehearse the solemn warnings and precious promises of God (which will do eternal good to our souls).
- It will move us from our inherent man-centeredness in prayer to a biblical, God-centered way of praying.
The aim of the online publication of this “old-made-new” monograph is to assist and encourage modern Christians in both public and private prayer. Surely we all recognize that the Church of our day, at least in the West, is weak in the way of prayer. Few of us, perhaps, understand what prayer really is. We do not pray often. We do not pray with scriptural proportion, nor does our prayer much reflect the language and thought of the Bible. We do not pray fervently. Although we claim otherwise, maybe we really do not believe in prayer!
For those who are called upon to lead the Church in public prayer, or who simply desire to be more faithful and competent in their own private petitions, a scriptural manner of praying provides the order, proportion, and variety which should characterize all our prayers. We have aimed to provide users with a number of helps to assist in achieving this end. The core of the website is the entire text of Matthew Henry’s A Method for Prayer. Reading and re-reading through it will train the Christian in the use of biblical truth and language in prayer.