HOW SCRIPTURE STRENGTHENS PERSONAL PRAYER
BY EDITH MARSHALL
Several months after my husband Peter had accepted the pastorale of our second church and we had moved to the picturesque village of East Dennis on Cape Cod, I was invited to come and pick raspberries in the back-yard of one of the wisest and dearest men I have ever known. He was the Rev. John Stanton, retired Presbyterian minister.
Carrying my berry-picking basket, I wandered up the crushed-shell driveway beside a weathered-shingle and rambling house. He was sitting in the backyard, a huge Bible in his lap, his eyes closed, his lips moving. I knew he must be praying-except for the fact that every once in a while his eyes would open to focus on his Bible, only to be shut tight in a few seconds.
In a few moments he spotted me out of the corner of his eye, and beckoned me over with a warm welcome.
“I don’t mean to interrupt, ” I apologized.
“Oh,” he chuckled, “I’m praying my way through the Psalms. It’s marvelous!”
As I looked puzzled, he explained that because so many of the Psalms are addressed to the Lord, they lend themselves to being incorporated into our own personal prayer lives and that lie was simply personalizing them as his own prayer. His prayers were rich as a result-full of praise and thanksgiving. And since his supplications were prayed according to the will of God, he had the assurance his prayers would be answered.
But not wanting to seem super-spiritual, he showed me to the berry patch and set me to work.
Since my prayer life seemed dull at the time, I determined to try Dr. John’s approach. The very next morning, with my Bible opened in front of me, I began praying out loud the passages that lent themselves to prayer.
Some Psalms needed very little paraphrasing before they could be my own heart-felt prayer:
Create in me a clean heart, 0 God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, arid uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)
Others could be made my own prayers by switching some wording:
Lord, you are my shepherd. When you’re there I have no needs. You make me still in the inner man and give me peace. You lift up, restore, and heal my soul. Please lead me in your paths of righteousness for your
name’s sake … (Psalm 23)
On my next visit to Dr. Stanton’s, I shared with him my new-found enthusiasm for praying the Psalms. And I added that certain passages in the New Testament also pointed up my needs. For example:
Oh, Lord, let me live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit. Free me from self-conceit. Let there be in me no provoking of another and no envy. (Gal. 5:25)
Or if there was something I didn’t understand:
Lord, how can I work out my salvation with fear and trembling? Is there something I must do, or something to repent for. Show me Lord! (Phil. 2:12)
Dr. John confirmed my experiences thus far, and then taught me about using the Scriptures to intercede for others.
“Do the same things you’ve been doing in praying for yourself,” he said. “But now put the other person’s name in the Scripture passage wherever it’s needed.”
I could do this in the following way:
Oh, Lord, you who have begun a good work (in Ellen)… completion (in her). (Phil. 1:6)
bring it to
Blessed be the Lord who daily bears (Ellen) up. God is (her) salvation. Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belongs escape from death. (Psalm 68:19-20)
I found that on nearly every page of the Bible there was a phrase or a sentence that I could turn into a prayer for someone else. There were also Scriptures with promises I could claim for other, that Could be
turned into prayers:
Oh, Lord, as(Ellen) passes through the waters and rivers, be with her, that they no( overflow (her). Keep her from being burned by the fire. (Is. 43.2)
As (Ellen) walks through this affliction, work in her a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Col. 4:17)
Cause (Ellen) to wait for you that (her) strength might renewed. Then she can mount up with Wings like eagles, she can run and not be weary, she can walk and not faint. (Is. 40:31) What a wealth of resource and inspiration for prayer is available, when we but open His Word!
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