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How to Pray Through Scripture

Below is a sample of how you might read through, meditate on, and respond to a passage through prayer. Consider that Scripture is God’s way of starting the conversation, and our prayers are one way we respond to what he says. As you read, think through the ACTS acronym.

Not every passage will lend itself to all four components of prayer. Read slowly. Ask God to guide you. Take note of things that capture your attention. Be sensitive to other verses that the Holy Spirit may bring to mind as you are reading and meditating. Remember, as you turn from reading to praying, you are embarking on a holy dialogue between you and your loving Father.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:1-3 NIV)

Shouts of joy, glad worship, and joyful songs—these are not my praise and adoration, but they are the call to praise. These expressions should characterize my response to God. Why? Because the Lord is God, and we are his. This is my praise.

1. Adoration

He is God. Ruler, Authority, Creator, Power—that is who he is. And because he is God, he has a claim on me, authority over me, and the right to make demands of me.

I belong to him—not as a possession, but as a son or daughter, as one redeemed, rescued, and ransomed. I’m not an outsider; I am his. I’m not an enemy, but a beloved child of God.

Prayer: Wow! You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You alone are Sovereign Ruler and Mighty God. You are my God, and I belong to you. I’m not separated but welcomed in and granted direct access (Ephesians 1:3-14). I am in awe of how wonderful you are.

2. Confession

He is God, and I belong to him. Why is that not enough to generate joyful, exuberant praise? How can I be unimpressed and unmoved by these truths?

What else could be more worthy of my joy and worship? Yet I demand more proofs of his power and love.

Prayer: God, I confess that I withhold praise when I should be pouring it out. I am no longer moved by the fact that you are my God and God of all. I am often drawn away to worship other gods—gods who are not gods at all. I’m an idolater (Exodus 20:2-3). Forgive me, and help me return to you.

3. Thanksgiving

God made us. In fact, he made us twice: He created and knit us together in our mother’s womb. And, he recreated us and made us a new creation in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, God. I am grateful to be made in your image and then blown away by the grace you give in restoring me to the image of your Son (Romans 8:28-29).

4. Supplication

We are the “sheep of his pasture.” Sheep are under the authority of the Shepherd. They rely on him to lead and guide, but they are also bound to listen to his voice and follow him. They don’t belong to themselves and live unto themselves.

Prayer: God, use my life for your glory and your kingdom. Help me to lay down my preferences for your purposes. I want your kingdom to come and your will to be done. Help me (and others) to yield to you, to surrender to you, to live for you and you alone (Matthew 6:9-10).