Several years ago the church was able to sponsor Dr. Don Whitney to come to the church several years in a row to teach us various aspects of spiritual disciplines. By far the most sought after and appreciated was when he taught us to pray using the bible as our guide. He made a persuasive argument that by simply using the Psalms we could be confident that we were praying in a manner that honored the Lord and caused our prayers to be sound and truly helpful for whom we prayed.
I know the bible well but that does not mean I know how to view or handle all things. So there are times when I need to pray but I don’t really know how to approach it. However I almost always have a passage or two that comes to mind as I think on the situation and that is how I tackle the prayer issue — I pray that passage.
Here is an example. A person is suffering from a painful and long term illness. I think of 2 Corinthians 1 where we are comforted by God so that we might comfort others. So I ask God first to bring comfort to them in a tangible way. Second, that they might remember that comfort and use it to be a way to minister to others who suffer. That they might rejoice in the midst of the pain that the grace and presence of God is near. That they would have their eyes opened to ways God is comforting them perhaps through others and that they would give thanks. Add passages from James 1:2-5 or I Peter 5:10 and you have a sound, helpful and God-honoring prayer.
All of this is to announce that Dr. Whitney has now published a book on that very topic, Praying the Bible. It is a book you should own. It is a book you should read. It is a book you should give to others. And it is a book you should practice.