scripture (7)



Prayerfully Memorizing Scripture


There is a sense in which the most important part of a tree is its root system. The stability and nourishment of a tree come from its roots. And, of course, the roots grow more slowly than the branches. So it is with our spiritual lives.

For this reason and others, I recommend Scripture memory as a discipline of prayer. It is not impossible to prayerfully memorize an entire chapter each week. The main issue is slowing down to memorize, allowing God to nourish your soul. Here is the process.

Read a verse over until you can say it. Then go to the next verse. When you have it down, go back to the first and read them together. Then memorize the next. When you have it memorized, go over all three together. Continue this process until you come to a good stopping place. If you divide a chapter into seven segments, you can memorize it in a week. The next day you will have to re-memorize these verses before you start on a new passage. You will soon find this rearranging your entire schedule. And you and God may be pleased with the outcome.

Time spent in prayerful review is the key to memorizing. In reviewing Scriptures I have already memorized, I inevitably misquote some of the verses. I try to resist quickly correcting myself and going on. I often go over the verse several times until I get it right. I use this same process to review each chapter for two weeks. That means I am always reviewing two chapters while memorizing another. I am aware that this will require a significant amount of time. And the current quarantine may be the perfect time to embark on this project.

You will find that such scripture memory produces fervent prayer. I didn't realize this until I started memorizing in this way. Three kinds of prayer come automatically in this process.

  1. I have to ask God to help me slow down and concentrate to fix the words in my mind. “Lord, help me memorize this verse!”
  2. “Lord, plant your word in my heart and transform my life.” The goal of my Scripture memory is for God to transform my mind, making me more like Jesus. It is mainly in the process of reviewing passages that God takes me deeper spiritually.
  3. While I am memorizing and reviewing, God brings people and needs to mind. And He gives me unusual faith as I take time to pray for them while I am deep in His word.

Even though it is automatic, such praying will also have to be intentional. You do not want to become so preoccupied with memorizing that you forget to pray. Scripture memory requires commitment. You will sometimes have to work at it when you are exhausted. You may have to pick up again after being too busy for a day or a week. You may want to set long term goals like memorizing the Psalms in six months, or committing the Gospels, an Epistle, or the entire New Testament to memory. Right now I memorize two chapters from the New Testament, then one from the Old Testament before returning to the New. All the time I work at this, I pray for God to work in my life. While God often uses memorized verses to minister to others, calling Scriptures to mind at crucial times, that is not not my main purpose in this. I do it for God to plant Himself in me.

This method is not “the law of the Meads and the Persians.” I encourage you to adjust this as God leads you. However, I do warn you against trying to shorten the time you spend doing it. God will bless every moment you spend in His word and prayer.


Your most powerful praying may come through the word of God.



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Can you see an orchard with trees covered with luscious fruit? I'll let you decide what kind of fruit you see. Whatever the fruit, those trees were almost certainly grafted. Any fruit tree has the DNA of two kinds of apple or apricot or whatever fruit. So the desired variety must be grafted into the existing root system either by budding or scion grafting.

Something like that happens as God's word is grafted into our lives. In John 15:7-8 Jesus said,

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

This particular passage speaks especially to our prayer lives. It clearly teaches that answered prayer flows from character shaped by a deep devotional life. 1 John 4:14 promises answers when we pray in God's will. As our understanding and character conform more to God's will, our prayer lives will become more fruitful. This is the process of spiritual growth.

In John 15:7,8 Jesus calls us to remain in continual fellowship with Him. And He connects abiding in Him with His words living in us. This surely includes memorizing Scripture. Many of our churches work at helping children memorize Bible verses. But adults, even church leaders, sometimes avoid the discipline of Scripture memory.

I recently made a commitment to increase the level of my Scripture memory in the twilight of my life and ministry. I wonder what this might have produced through my prayer life had I done it 40 or 50 years ago. Who knows what God may do through me even now.

For many years I have read the same chapter of The New Testament three days in a row trying to soak it up before moving on to the next. Several months ago I started memorizing the chapter verse by verse before I move on. This has slowed me down some. It usually takes me about a week to memorize a chapter. And this adds to my daily devotional time because I review each memorized verse every day for a month. I may have to do something different, because I am not retaining the verses as well as I would like. I have a long term goal of memorizing the entire New Testament even though the doctors do not think I will live that long. In the process I long for God to make me more like Jesus, and my prayer life more like His. God will continue to transform my thinking as His word is grafted into my heart.

I hunger for God to bear more fruit in the lives of others through my character, relationships, writing, and praying, showing more and more that I am truly a disciple of Jesus Christ.



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A powerful Scripture relating to hope is Romans 15:4.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Think with me for a moment about the last two words of this verse. What does it mean to have hope? In this scripture having hope should not be interpreted as having the possibility of hope. There are places and times where having hope could be interpreted that way. When Jesus died on the cross for us He gave all of us the hope of eternal life. But until you place your faith in him you do not actually hold that hope in your hand. This verse is a stronger statement of hope. I believe having hope here means for hope to have you.

I have a close friend who would always watch the morning news on television before coming to a morning prayer meeting. He would sometimes come to the prayer meeting almost too disturbed to pray. He had trouble praising God because he was upset about problems. He wasn't able to pray for other problems because he was upset about what was on the news. I believe my friend had hope in the sense in which he belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. But his hope did not have him. He needed to apply hope to his life and especially his prayer life. It needed to grip his life.

All of us deal with this problem from time to time. But, as 2 Peter 1:4 says, we have very great and precious promises by which we can escape the bonds of the world and of our sinful nature. How do we apply these promises to our lives?

Romans 15:4 calls us to listen to the encouragement of Scripture. Are you listening to God? We need to hunger for what He will say to us in His word. Much of our anxiety as Christians would be overcome if we would allow things God has told us to grip our lives.

Romans 15:4 gives us a combination of applications. It is through endurance and the encouragement of scripture that we gain a firm grip, a life-changing grip on our hope. It is a fact that luxury, success, comfort, and  acclaim in this life can actually diminish our hold on hope by distracting us from it. It is when we are forced to endure deprivation, failure, discomfort, and discredit that God's word can speak to us most powerfully. Are you looking to Scripture for God to encourage your heart in the trials that you are facing? In times like these you need God’s hope to have a firm grip upon you.


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PrayNetwork Spotlight: Pray the Word

9651024455?profile=originalIf you're like me, the new year is a time when you evaluate your life, including your spiritual disciplines.  I often change up spiritual disciplines a bit at the beginning of the year in order to keep my time with God fresh.

If you're looking for a different way to start the year in prayer, you might want to consider Pray the Word, by Tiece King.  Published by Prayer Shop Publishing (the publishing arm of Harvest Prayer Ministries), Pray the Word is a collection of 90 days of prayers taken directly from Scripture.  Each prayer features a combination of several scripture passages related to the prayer topic for the day.  The prayers are a combination of thanksgiving and praise for the promises of scripture, entreaties to God to fulfill promises of scripture, petitions for God to help the reader obey scripture, etc.  The specific passages from which the prayers are taken are listed at the end of the day.

The prayers in Pray the Word are deep dives into Scripture, not just casual "drive-bys" of a favorite passage.  They can serve as the starting point for a deeper meditation on the scriptures and a consideration of how the reader's life lines up with the scriptures.  They can lead to times of repentance and confession, outbursts of praise, declarations of commitment, and many other aspects of relationship with God. 


Pray the Word is available as a 31-day or 90-day devotional in paperback or e-book format.  The 31-day version is available at; all versions are available at  A companion app containing 31 days of prayers is available for both iPhone and Android.  The app focuses on prayers around specific topics, providing lists of prayers for Lent and Advent as well as several other topics.

Praying Scripture is a great way to get "unstuck" if your prayer time has become routine, and Pray the Word is a great resource to help you pray scripture.  You may even find that you approach the reading of Scripture differently, turning passages you read into prayers more regularly as a result of praying this way.


Pray.Network Spotlight by Andrew Wheeler.

See Andrew's website at


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Have you noticed that as He prayed on the cross, Jesus prayed scripture? He repeatedly prayed to God in the exact words of Scripture. In fact he prayed so much of the 22nd Psalm that a friend of mine believes He quoted the entire psalm in prayer, and the Gospel writers recorded enough of it for us to understand that. Praying Scripture can be a wonderful practice.

You can memorize a verse and pray it off and on throughout a day. The scripture itself does not have to be a prayer like Psalm 22. You can pray from almost any scripture by praying from the truth opened up in it. “I thank you, Father, that I know all things, even this trial I am facing, work together for good.” (Rom.8:28) “Lord, help me not do what I do to be seen by others.” (Mt.23:5)

However, I think a great way to begin or extend this practice is by praying prayers from the Bible. I have often been thrilled by re-praying the prayer of the believers in Acts 4. “Sovereign Lord. . .” I believe one of the best Bible prayers for us to pray is The Lord’s Prayer itself. Most people already know it by heart. And praying from each thought in the prayer opens great vistas of the character and grace of God. “I thank you, Father, that I am part of a family. You are ‘Our Father’.”

This week I intend to challenge a group, some of whom have not developed a daily quiet time, to pray through The Lord’s Prayer every day for a week. I cannot wait to see what God does in their lives.

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Hearing His Voice?

"Hearing His Voice?"


Fairly often I encounter Christians who describe God “speaking to them.”  It is as if the Almighty actually verbalizes His unique direction right into their eardrums.  Frankly, I am skeptical.  I do not hear voices nor to do I see detached hands writing on the wall.  Yet, the Bible is clear that Christ is living and active among His people and He has commanded the churches to “hear what the Spirit is saying” (Revelation 2 & 3).


The Bible is prolific about the importance of hearing God’s voice – in both Old and New Testaments. Yet, how do we understand God’s pledge to speak to us without slipping into some kind of extra-biblical, subjective mysticism? Let’s try to understand.  


The Priority of Hearing God’s Voice


Throughout the Old Testament, the precursor to obedience was hearing God’s voice, most often through His commandments revealed in the divine Scripture. Dozens of times in Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Jeremiah we find references to the voice of the Lord in connection with His revealed commandments. “Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice” (Deuteronomy 26:17).  In Daniel 9, the sins of God’s people are described as a failure to hear and obey God’s voice (9:10, 11,14). The Psalms describe God’s voice speaking through His creation (18:13, 19:3, 29:3-9, 68:33, 77:18).


In the New Testament, Jesus announces that His sheep will hear and know His voice and follow Him (John 10:3, 4, 16 & 27).  He also declared that everyone who is of the truth hears His voice (John 18:37). He predicted that day when His voice will resurrect the dead from the grave (John 5:25 &28).  In Revelation 3:20 He calls on those within the lukewarm, self-sufficient Laodicean church to hear His voice as He knocks on the door, offering restored fellowship.  The book of Hebrews calls us to not harden our hearts when we hear His voice.


How Do We Hear God’s Voice?


His voice is contained in and consistent with His revealed word – Throughout the Scripture, hearing God’s voice is synonymous with obeying His commands.  The Bible is “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  In the closing verses of the New Testament we are warned not to add or take away from the revealed word (Revelation 22:18-19).  The sufficiency, authority, relevance, and transformational power of the Scriptures trump any individual revelation of the “voice” of God.


His voice is apprehended and applied by His Spirit – 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 says it so completely (read it well).


“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”


The indwelling, all-knowing life-tutor of the Holy Spirit gives us understanding to hear and apply the voice of God in His word.  Those who do not have the Holy Spirit do not hear or understand the instructive voice of the Holy Spirit.  First Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”


His voice is comprehended and confirmed among His people – The assembled church and gathered leaders in the Book of Acts heard  from God as He spoke to them by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2, 15:28) as they waited on the Lord and sought His will.  The confirmation of a community of godly believers is a necessary dimension of the voice of the Holy Spirit.


Characteristics of the Voice of God


When the Lord’s voice resounds it is precise, powerful, and penetrating.  God’s will is clear, not muddled or mysterious.  His voice brings the exactitude of His word to our hearts and minds in order to direct and confirm.  His voice is powerful.  By His command all of creation emerged and by His voice He rules over creation (see Psalm 29).  The voice of Christ was authoritative and powerful during His earthly ministry (Luke 4:26).  In Revelation, His voice is depicted as the force of “many waters” (Revelation 1:15).  God’s voice is also penetrating, cutting deep into the heart and soul of man, where real change occurs (see Hebrews 4:12).  The mouth of the risen Christ is described as a “sharp two-edged sword” (Revelation 1:16). 


Our Response to the Voice of God


We respond in obedience – The primary word associated with the idea of the voice of the Lord is “obey.”  (Even a casual search in a concordance will demonstrate this convincingly.)  As Mary said at the first miracle of Jesus, “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5).  The defining characteristic of those who “hear from the Lord” is a life of Christ-honoring obedience, not some irregular state of emotion or braggadocio.


We respond in trust – Psalm 29 is a dramatic depiction of the many aspects of the power of the voice of the Lord.  At the end of this Psalm we find a powerful application of what it means to recognize and receive the voice of the Lord: “The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).  When we hear His voice we rely on and receive from Him as our source of strength and peace.  The “peace be still” (Mark 4:39) of Jesus' voice is evidenced through a life of trust.


We respond in intimate surrender –The living Christ, walking among the churches, says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”(Revelation 3:20).  This invitation to restored, intimate fellowship with Jesus requires our response of surrender as we open our hearts to His presence and Lordship.


Today . . . IF You Will Hear His Voice


Our ultimate response to His voice is very clear (Psalm 95:7, Hebrews 3:7, 15; 4:7).  "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”


Copyright © 2012 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.


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A prayerwalking guide for Sept 11

Pray! Network friends, I want you to see this e-mail I recently sent:


Dear friends,

I want you to know about a resource we’ve just produced. It’s a prayerwalking guide designed to be used on September 11. It’s easy and free to download and print. Make all the copies you’d like to invite others to join you. Go to to download the pdf file.

September 11 falls on a Saturday this year, which is usually the easiest day to bring together a few friends to prayerwalk a portion of your community. Someone had the cool idea of prayerwalking between 9:00 am and 11:00 am on 9-11.

Thousands of people will be doing this, including some in every state of the union. Please think about organizing a prayerwalk near your workplace or around your neighborhood on the morning of September 11.

I wrote this prayer guide with the encouragement of our friends who are organizing the Cry Out America! initiative. Go to to find out what Cry Out America! is all about. Many will be organizing gatherings at government centers and courthouses at noon on that day. The last prayer on this prayer guide is designed to be read in unison at those gatherings.

Recent events have made this September 11 to be an even more important time for Christians to pray in hope for God’s life and love to be revealed in our land. We need to pray in ways that go beyond our partisan opinions. We can easily cheapen our public praying as political posturing unless wedeepen our praying by grounding our hope in God’s Word.

Yours in hope,

Steve Hawthorne
Director, WayMakers

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