Praying Scripture for One Another

In a previous blog post, I encouraged you to pray for one another using Scripture.  In this post, I want to give a few suggestions for doing this.

It is important as we pray to understand where we are at in redemptive history. For example, it would not be right for us to pray that God would allow to drive all of our enemies out of the land using the sword.  That was right for Joshua to pray, but wrong for us to pray. But we are at a different stage in redemptive history. Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:3-19 has a very specific context. Israel is in exile. Daniel remembers Jeremiah’s promise that God would only leave them there seventy years. Then God gives Daniel a specific answer to his prayer (Daniel 9:20-27). In other words, we cannot pray the exact the same thing as Daniel. Finally, using a New Testament passage, in Matthew 10:5-42 Jesus sends out the twelve on a mission trip to the nation of Israel. Many of the specifics in the passage do not apply to modern missionaries.  As we pray, we need to remember our context. We live in the New Covenant age.

There are many passages that can be prayed word for word. Many of the Psalms fit that category. There is nothing in Psalm 1 that should not be the prayer of every believer in every age. Proverbs contains great truths that apply to all of God’s people. Paul’s prayers, while written to a specific congregation, are generic enough to be applicable to all Christians. The Ten Commandments fit this as well.

But how do we take passages from different times in the history of God’s people and use them as a guide for prayer today? The key is to find some principles in the passages that do apply to all of God’s people at all times. There are always principles we can glean (Romans 15:4, I Corinthians 10:11). For example, while we should not pray that God will drive out our enemies using the sword, we can pray that God would use His Word to drive out our enemies or convert them. We can trust that as God promised Joshua he would have victory, the greater Joshua will give us victory (Matthew 28:18-20). We are not in exile like Daniel. Yet we should be confessing our sins, the sins of our people and looking to the promises in God’s Word like Daniel did. We are not the twelve going to Israel.  Yet we should pray that our missionaries will not be afraid (Matthew 10:26), will preach the word faithfully (Matthew 10:27), and remember there is a reward (Matthew 10:40-42). Finally, we are not Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), but we can still pray that we would not compromise with sexually immoral false teachers (Rev. 2:20) and that will keep the works of Christ to the end so that we might rule with Him (Rev. 2:26-28).  In any passage that does not directly apply to you find the principles that you can apply and then pray them. 

Another suggestion, especially when praying the Ten Commandments, is to use a catechism to help you get beneath surface sins. For example, here is the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” 

Q: 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?
A: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another: but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: also, that I hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder.
Q: 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?
A: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder.
Q: 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

A: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;  to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him,  and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies;  and that we do good, even to our enemies. 

In other words, don’t just pray that you, and your brothers and sisters in Christ would not murder. But pray that all envy and hatred would be driven out of our hearts. As you intercede for others get beneath outward action to inward desires, thoughts, and emotions. Also pray for that God would help the positive virtue grow in people. In this case, pray that we would do as much good to those around us as we can, including doing good to our enemies. 
Finally, when I suggested praying through Scripture I do not mean something like “Dear Lord please help Jim be filled with the knowledge of your will. Help Sally to be more patient. Help Jack to not be bitter. Amen.” Fill in the gaps with your knowledge of the person. “Lord, help Jim to be filled with knowledge of your will so he can guide his family during this difficult time. Keep him from wandering from your path. Help him to hold fast your word.” Do not make the Bible passage you are praying through into a mantra that you repeat. Put flesh and bones on the passage as you pray through it. Fit the passage to the person you are praying for.