Praying Scripture: Thirsty for GodJul 13, 2022
Blog by Alan Fadling
One of the spiritual disciplines in which I find a lot of grace is praying my way through a passage of Scripture. Specifically, I journal on my computer. (I sometimes still journal by hand, but I always then incorporate this into my digital journal.) I copy and paste a passage from an online Bible site into my journal and then pray my way through it verse by verse or phrase by phrase.
Let me demonstrate what this looks like using a journal entry in which I prayed my way through Psalm 63. I hope you’ll find it helpful.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Lord, you really are my God. I am coming to seek you as earnestly as I know how. My soul is thirsty for you alone. Even my body aches to know you more deeply. This parched place through which I journey only intensifies my longings. I am not finding refreshment or satisfaction anywhere else. You are my only hope right now. Has this been your plan? Is this desert the place where you bring focus and clarity to my desire and the realization that it is you alone I want?
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
In this wilderness place, I can recall seasons when I’ve sensed your presence, felt your power, and was humbled by your overwhelming glory. I remember the intimacy of your presence in those holy times and spaces. I have known moments when I felt there was no one and nothing in the world but you and me. This increases my longing for you now.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
Can I say this with the same conviction as David? Do I really believe that your love is better than life itself? Or do I love my life more than I want your love? What might I be devoting myself to instead of you? When I realize that nothing in my life, not even my life itself, is better than your unfailing love, I see you filling the whole horizon of my vision. I am enabled to glorify you, acknowledging that you are worthy of praise.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I am learning that you are always and will always be more than worthy of my tiny praise, no matter what may come. Thank you for the challenges I face that deepen this conviction. May these hands rise in praise when you come to mind.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
In this dry and weary land, I have hope that you will, in good time, fully satisfy my deepest, truest longings. I think of excellent meals that I have enjoyed at fine restaurants. Those were fast food next to the richness of your life in me. Satisfy my soul with yourself, Father.
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
What captures my attention through the long, dark nights of my life? How do I keep the darkness from invading my heart and mind? I remember you. I think of you. I look to you. “Be thou my vision” through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I realize more and more how much help I really need. You have been showing me the foolishness of presumptuous self-sufficiency. I need you. I need others alongside me. Be my help, Father, so that I might find myself singing praise in the safe place of hiding under your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
As this desert place exposes the emptiness of everything I cling to in creation, I realize more fully that my soul should cling to you alone. I am like a little child who clings to you as you uphold me. Thank you.
Lord, grant that this psalm prayer might soak more deeply into my assumptions, my expectations, and my hopes. May I come to more fully embody the reality of this psalm. Continue teaching me to find satisfaction in you alone.
- How might you experiment with this practice, even with a single verse?
- When and where might you try it on?