God’s Word has an essential role in all aspects of your prayer life. Your communion with God will be based on and include much communion through the Word. Your praise must of necessity make much use of Scripture as you praise the Lord. Whatever time you spend on your devotional life, surely about half will be spent reading and feeding on God’s Word.
Devotional books are good, as long as they do not take the place of God’s Word. If you spend most of the reading portion of your daily devotional period reading from a devotional book rather than from God’s Word, yours will be a very superficial spiritual life. Most devotional writings are skim milk as compared with the milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
A major reason for weak prayer lives is a neglect of God’s Word.
The God who hears prayer is the God of the Bible. Prayer and the Word are interrelated. Praying people love God’s Word, and those who love God’s Word long to pray and love to pray. When you feed on God’s Word, you will repeatedly find that your reading becomes prayer. You will be so blessed by the Word that as you read you begin to love the Lord, to thank and praise Him, to ask the Lord to apply the Word to your heart and fulfill it in your life, or to ask Him to fulfill a particular promise for you. The Word flows into prayer again and again almost before you realize it.
The more constantly you feed on the Word, the richer and deeper your life of prayer becomes. The Word of God is the food that makes you strong to pray. Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, defeated Satan by pointing to the essential role of the Word. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
God’s Word nourishes your prayer, strengthens your prayer, and warms your heart and fires your spirit as you pray. You cannot have a strong spiritual life apart from constant feeding upon and assimilating God’s Word. Spiritual growth depends upon daily spiritual food. Earnest, even forceful praying, if not nourished on God’s Word, may be weak and flabby.
Andrew Murray taught, “Little of the Word with little prayer is death to the spiritual life. Much of the Word with little prayer gives a sickly life. Much prayer with little of the Word gives more life, but without steadfastness. A full measure of the Word and prayer each day gives a healthy and powerful life.”
Prayer depends on the Word of God. It is built upon the message, truth, and power of the whole of Scripture. Prayer absorbs the power of the Word and incorporates all its vision, urgency, and force into its prevailing. Jesus promised:
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).
Four truths are very evident from this passage in John 15:7-8:
1. prayer answers are closely related to “remaining,” that is, really living in the Word;
2. this abiding in the Word is the secret of having much fruit for God
3. this prayer fruit is what really brings glory to God; and
4. prayer fruit is what proves your genuine discipleship.
While this teaching applies to all prayer, it is specially true for militant prayer warfare. Spiritual power for prayer warfare is inseparable from constant feeding on the Word, on massive incorporation of the Word into your spiritual life.
Samuel Chadwick wrote, “I never take any book but the Bible into the secret place. It is my prayer book.”
J. Oswald Sanders testifies how his Christian life and prayer were transformed. “A change came when I learned to use the Scriptures as a prayer book, and to turn what I read, especially in the Psalms, into prayer.”
Jonathan Goforth, so mightily used in missionary revival and in his prayer life, constantly saturated his soul with God’s Word. He stated, “It is appalling how God and souls are defrauded because we know so little of His saving Word.” Every morning Goforth, within a half hour of rising, began intensive Bible study with pencil and notebook. Whether preaching or doing personal evangelism, Goforth always had an open Bible in his hand. At one point in his life he had read the entire Bible thirty-five times in Chinese alone. He had read his Chinese New Testament sixty times, and by the time of his death he had read the entire Bible consecutively seventy-three times. He said, “I am ever wishing I could spend several hundred years at the Bible.”
Power in the use of the Word depends on the prayer life. Power in prayer depends on the use of the Word. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Word and the Spirit of prayer. Both prayer and the Word thus are centered in God. God reveals His heart in the Word. You reveal your heart to Him in prayer. He gives Himself to you in His Word. You give yourself to Him in prayer. In the Word He comes to your side and lives with you. In prayer you ascend to His throne and sit with Christ.
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