Prayer is difficult but we often assume it ought not to be. It is speech to God (and listening in silence too) and we may think that if we have a relationship with Him it should just flow. Perhaps we’ve even been taught that prayer for a Christian is as natural as breathing.
Then we get on our knees, or sit in our chair, or walk through our neighbourhood, and we find that we have run out of things to say. Or our mind can’t settle down long enough to connect with God in prayer. We find that it is not as easy or free-flowing as we thought it’d be.
Fortunately, we have not been left without help. God has inspired many prayers within Scripture. The Psalter (Book of Psalms) is a book of 150 prayers. As well, through the Old Testament (Exodus 15, 1 Kings 8:22-61) and the New Testament (Matthew 5:9-13, Philippians 2:1-11) there have been prayers deposited within the pages. But any passage of Scripture can be used for meditation and inspiration for prayer.
The Reformer Martin Luther said that our hearts need “warming up” in prayer and that a chapter of Scripture may be used as a Feuerzeug, a lighter. This is the same term used in modern German for a cigarette lighter.*
And that is what Scripture can do for our prayers – ignite them. As I look within my heart, I don’t find always an instant supply of praise, request, or thanksgiving to God. It may all be in there, I just need help finding it. Reading, meditating, and then praying (putting in my own mouth the words of Scripture’s prayers) ignites my heart in prayer. The extemporaneous prayers that may follow, or flow free from me next time, are fueled by the Word.
- recounted by Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy, page 256.