Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Vision (11/18/10): Reflections on the Bible and Personal Prayer: Part 2 of 3

Note: The following devotional article is the second in a three part series written by CRBC’s Michael Cressin.

Often the amount of time that we can devote to a prayer period determines the amount of Scripture that will be appropriate for that period. Two concepts are applicable here: macro-scriptura and micro-scriptura. Macro-scriptura denotes using a lot of scripture while micro-scriptura means using a small amount of scripture. Let's say that one has plenty of time on hand to commit to prayer. Perhaps it is the Lord's Day, and one is setting aside an hour or more for prayer. Or maybe it's a week-day evening with a free half hour or forty minutes available. These would be optimal for reading and meditating upon a longer passage of Scripture, perhaps several chapters. This would be a good time to dig into some of those lengthy Old Testament passages from the history of Israel or the prophets. Here in the macro-scriptura mode one can allow one's mind to be molded by the flow of the biblical narrative. Perhaps in the midst of our reading a few verses pop out to touch your heart. Slow down and re-read that verse that caught your attention. At the end of the entire passage come back to that verse and savor it. Allow it to sink into your soul. You might even want to write it down and refer to it later that day.

I try daily to have a period of macro-scriptural prayer. Usually the evening is best for me. I typically go consecutively through a book of the Bible. Often I will jot down “power verses” so that when I finish the course of that particular book I will have a collection of verses from that book that I can review and meditate upon. You must realize that, “the Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two edge sword” (Heb 4:12). Often with these treasured “power verses” I find that I experience the life-transforming power of the Scriptures.

The other mode of scriptural prayer is that of micro-scriptura. Here, as stated above, a smaller portion of the Bible is utilized. Perhaps one only has 10-20 minutes to commit to prayer. It is times like these that perhaps a section of one of the Gospels or New Testament epistles will seem more optimal for use in prayer. Let the Word speak to you. Let it sink into your mind and your heart. Read it over again...and again. During the course of your day bring it to mind. What prayer does the passage prompt within you? Perhaps the passage makes you aware of your own sinfulness, or more aware of God's providential care for you, or maybe it prompts you simply to praise God for who He is and what He has done. A little bit of Scripture can certainly go a long way! Concentrated prayer on a few verses can yield much fruit.

Another important consideration is the relationship between corporate worship and personal prayer time. It is a centuries-old proven fact that without commitment to a church body one will not grow in the Christian life. This is certainly true when it comes to personal prayer. On any given Lord's Day in the church assembly we are exposed to biblical readings, psalms, scripturally-based hymns, and Bible-centered preaching. All or any of these can provide texts for prayerful consideration during the week to follow. A practice that I sometimes like to incorporate into my personal prayer is to reflect upon the scriptural passage upon which the Lord's Day sermon was based. I will often do this in the first half of the following week. In the latter half of that week I will often preview the sermon text for the coming Lord's Day. I have found much can be gained from this practice, including a greater sense of commitment to the church body.

Michael Cressin

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