Have you ever felt captive to negative thoughts and the emotions that often accompany them? I have. I don’t always feel like praying as I should, even when I know what I should be praying about. Like so many leaders before me and many presently, I experience times where the ability to present a passionate plea for myself and others escapes me.
It’s during these times that I’ve always been encouraged and inspired to seek God by doing what his own people have been doing since the beginning of time, praying God’s words back to him.
These are the times when I tell God how I’m feeling and turn to the Scriptures to receive sufficient grace to get me through, and God hasn’t failed me in 40 years. I haven’t known a time regardless of my feelings (or lack of them) when the Holy Spirit hasn’t opened my understanding to a passage that encouraged me to begin praying. Before long His passion for providing the answers floods my soul.
When The Captives Are Captivated
I think of God’s people who were exiled for seventy years because they had continually violated God’s covenant with them. His promise of restoration and the instructions on how he’ll bring it about are written for the captives decades earlier by Jeremiah;
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
Daniel Prays God’s Words
Jeremiah records God’s promise to bring his people back from exile. It’s important to notice that the promised return and the directive to seek God in prayer are given to those in exile. In exile is where Daniel was while reading Jeremiah’s prophecy. The Holy Spirit opens his understanding of the passage and its timeline, and suddenly he has all the passion he needs to seek God with all his heart! Read Daniel’s passionate plea for mercy in Daniel 9:4-19.
Solomon Prays God’s Words
The promise and the principle behind Jeremiah’s prophecy wasn’t a new idea or concept. God’s people have understood this all along. Solomon mentions this very thing several centuries earlier in his epic prayer at the dedication of the temple;
“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.” 2 Chronicles 6:36-39
Moses Prays God’s Words
We see an interesting exchange between God and Moses in Exodus 32:9-10. God tells Moses that he sees that the people are “stiff-necked people,” and tells Moses to leave Him alone so He may destroy them and make a great nation from Moses!
The narrative continues through Exodus 32:11-12; “But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.”
Moses references God’s covenant with Abraham in verse 13; “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’ ” Did God listen to Moses? Yes, He did; “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” Exodus 32:14
We Should Pray God’s Words Too
Jesus prayed the Father’s words, the apostles referenced God’s Words in their praying, and these are written for our instruction and encouragement. God does not play favorites with his people, Like Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Daniel, God’s Word motivates people to pray, let’s follow their example.
The Holy Spirit will open your mind to the Scriptures, causing a particular promise, precept, or narrative to resonate within you. That written Word made alive within you by the Spirit, provides all the motivation and passion you need to begin praying.
Let’s tell God exactly how we feel and turn to the Scriptures, let the precepts and the promises fill our mind and let’s thank him for them. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16