“You search the Scriptures [Bible study], for in them you think you have…life; these are they which testify of Me. 40You are not willing to come to Me [talk to Me] that you may have life.” (Jn. 5:39-40)
- Jesus called us to abide in Him. The foundation of this reality means talking with Him. We do this best as we pray-read the Word, which is simply speaking its truths back to Him as we read it.
5He who abides in [talks to Me] Me, and I in him [I abide or talk to you], bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…7If you abide in [talk to Me] Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (Jn. 15:5-7)
- I offer the following suggestions as a method of “prayer-reading.” As you read through the Bible or teachings notes on the Bible, I suggest that you pray the Bible passages back to God. This will help you to practically give your heart to God and to receive from Him.
There are Two broad categories of Scripture for to pray-reading the Word:
- Scriptures that focus on promises “to believe” in God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that declare that God loves, forgives, leads, protects, or provides for us, etc.
- Scriptures that focus on exhorting us “to obey” God’s Word. For example, use Scriptures that command us to bridle our tongue, serve others and give time and money to God, etc.
We actively dialogue with God by praying promises from His Word that we are to believe.
- First, we thank God for a particular truth. We turn these truths into simple declarations of thanksgiving or trust. For example, say: “Thank you that You love me, that you forgave me.” Or declare: “I trust that You will lead, provide, and protect me.” When the Lord says in Song 4:9, “You have ravished My heart,” we respond by thanking Him for this truth.
- Second, we ask God to reveal (release) particular truths to us. Ask God to release a spirit of revelation (Eph. 1:17).
- For example, pray: “Father, reveal to me the certainty of Your provision; how much You love me, forgive me; how I have ravished Your heart.” Or, “Father, release Your promised guidance, provision, and protection,” etc. When Lord says in Song 4:9, “You have ravished My heart”, we respond by asking for more insight.
We actively dialogue with God by praying truths back to Him that exhort us to obey His Word.
- First, we commit ourselves to obey God in the specific way set forth in a biblical passage. Make declarations of resolve to obey the Word as you read passages about obedience. For example, declare: “I set my heart to love You and obey You with my speech, time, money, etc.” Or “I set my heart to love you like David, to endure hardship like Paul.”
37You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart… (Mt. 22:37)
2If anyone does not stumble in word, he is…also to bridle the whole body. (Jas 3:2)
- When the Lord exhorts the bride in Song 2:8-10 to arise in order to follow Him to the mountains, leaving the comfort zone behind. Take time to speak the intent of your heart to obey this passage. These sweet resolutions to obey will strengthen our heart.
“I set my heart to pray like Daniel or do miracles like Paul in the Book of Acts.”
- Second, we ask God to empower us to obey a particular truth seen in Scripture. Ask God for help to give you wisdom, motivation, and power to obey in specific areas. For example, pray: “Father help me to love You, to bridle my speech, to use my time and money in full obedience.” “Father, strengthen me by your grace to love you like David.
- When the Lord exhorts the bride in Song 2:8-10 to arise in order to follow Him to the mountains, leaving the comfort zone behind. Take time to specifically ask the Lord to empower your heart to obey this passage.
“Father, lead me away from temptation” (Mt. 6:13), or “deliver me from the works of the evil one” (Jn. 17:15).
Two ways to focus our mind in seeking God: God on His Throne (Rev. 4) and God in our spirit
14The love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor. 13:14, NAS)
38Out of his heart [belly, KJV] will flow rivers of living water… (Jn. 7:38)
Methods of going deeper:
- Linger in God’s presence: in dialoging with God in the Word. Take time to linger as you speak slowly to God (include declaring your love and praise, praying with your spirit and being quiet). This is ‘devotional prayer.’
- Journaling: take time to record thoughts and prayers as you “pray-read” through Scripture. This helps us capture the truths that the Spirit gives us and to grow in our prayer dialogue with God. The anointing of the Spirit in you is your best teacher. When you pray the Word in spirit and truth, you and the Spirit work together to provide you with a tailor made teaching in the Word.
27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)
Examples of Pray-Reading the Word
- Jesus promises to reveal the Father’s personality to us as the way to impart love in us for God:
26 I (Jesus) have declared to them Your name (Father’s), and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn. 17:26)
- Pray: “I thank You for Your commitment to declare (reveal) the Father’s heart to me, release more.
- Pray: “I thank You for imparting Your love to my heart, please release more.
- God promises to show His power to those who are loyal to Him.
- Pray: “I thank You committing to show Yourself strong in me, release it. I set my heart to be loyal to the Spirit’s leadership in all that I do with my speech, eyes, actions, time and money. Help me to walk this out.”
9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. (2 Chr. 16:9)
- Jesus promises to manifest His presence to those who obey and keep or ‘treasure’ His commandments:
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… (Jn. 14:21)
- Pray: “I thank You for committing to manifest Your presence to my heart, release it more. I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech, time, money, etc. Holy Spirit, help me to do this.”
- Note: the Father loves everyone in the sense of valuing, caring for and pursuing them. However, He only loves the lifestyle, choices, sacrifices and fruit of those who pursue 100-fold obedience.
- We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in what we look at. Pray: I set my heart to not look on anything that quenches the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.
1 I have made a covenant with my eyes; why should I look upon a young woman? (Job 31:1)
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes… (Ps. 101:3)
- We are called to obey the Holy Spirit’s leadership in our speech. God promises that our whole body (our human passions) will be bridled as we obey the Spirit in our speech. Pray: “I set my heart to keep (obey) Your Word in my speech. Holy Spirit, help me to do this with consistency.”
14 Let the words of my mouth…meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight (Ps. 19:14)
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless. (Phil. 2:14)
18 In everything give thanks…19 Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:18-19)
- God promises to save or deliver those who lay aside filthiness as they meditate on His Word. Pray: “I thank You for desiring to deliver my soul from filthiness in me, please release it. I set my heart to lay aside all filthiness and to implant your Word in my heart with meditation and meekness. Please help me to do this with consistency.”
21 Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save (liberate, deliver) your souls. (Jas 1:21)
- God promised that we are a new creation based on giving us the gift of God’s righteousness. Pray: “I thank You and declaration my trust that you have given me the righteousness of God, please reveal it to me more by the spirit of revelation. I declare, that all things are new and the old things of my guilt has passed away in Your sight.”
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…21 For He (Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
There are atheists who study the bible and bear no fruit, there are Christians who study it and also are fruitless. Matthew 13 reveals that our heart is a soil and the Word is a seed but there are obstacles to get the conditions right for the seed to take root. A big one is that we would not just read the Word but to have a relationship with Jesus with the bible as our holy conversation material and means of transformation. We want to know Him as He actually is, not who we imagine Him to be, this method helps us connect with the reality of Jesus.
It is not enough to study the Bible—we must talk to God as we study. Bible study is meant to lead us to conversation with God by giving us the “conversational material” for our prayer life. It provides the language we use as we talk to Him. Using the Bible and speaking the Word back to God makes prayer easy and enjoyable. It “turns up the volume” in our conversation with God.