“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a NIV)
Simple application today. This is something that can be done with many verses or passages of scripture. Psalm 23 is a particularly good example.
This spiritual skill or tool is called what it is: Praying through Scripture.
Once you’ve selected a scripture verse or passage (our verse for this week, for example), here’s how you do it:
1. Repeat slowly, like a “breath prayer.” 3-5 times, gaining an ease and comfort level with the words.
2. Think about the imagery or the story. For example, think about a sheep being made to lie down for rest. Think about the goodness of the shepherd seeking out green pastures on which to lie. Think about the calm and serenity of being led by those quiet waters. And think about being refreshed in one’s soul.
3. Think about the truths the passage is conveying. For example, this passage pictures God as the shepherd and us the sheep. It tells us about the provision of God and his idea of what is good for us.
4. Using the verse or passage as an outline of sorts, pray by “piggybacking” off the words, imagery (or story), and truth/s of that verse or passage. For example:
God, you know and love me deeply. You know my needs better than I do. Instead of green pastures, I’ve felt parched in my soul lately. [You can get even more honest and specific here.] I need you to make me lie down and provide green pastures in which I may lie down. God, my life is too full of noise and chaos. I’ve got noisy chaos in [Name those areas or aspects of life.]. I need you to lead me beside quiet waters where I may experience some calmness and serenity in the midst of the current storminess of my life. Come and refresh my soul. Amen.
Yes, this is a tool for prayer that employs creativity. Naturally creative people may be quickly attracted to it. But sometimes folks who are not naturally creative also find that a simple exercise like this opens up their mind and spirit in a helpful and authentic way. This way of praying helps us not simply to recognize a truth of scripture, but to go further and incorporate that truth into our life through prayer. And it helps us break out of any prayer ruts we may in.
So, this weekend, consider trying out this prayer exercise. Try it with this scripture verse. Try it with another, if that seems to work better. The point is to bring together knowledge of a scripture with a practice of the spiritual life that helps us connect more authentically with God.