Join Jennifer for this week’s Monday Minute as she shares how praying Scripture helped her during times of distress.
The Benefits of Praying Scripture
by Jennifer Wake
As he drove away to meet the rest of his unit, I felt a vice-grip clamp down on my heart. His very first deployment was just fourteen days after I gave birth to our second daughter. In the midst of postpartum hormones, life looked very black. I felt like I was falling into a place of death and despair. Fear started to squeeze the hope out of me.
Every morning, I got up, I got dressed, and then tried to take care of my two daughters. My mother was staying with me to help, so I could at least do the basics. Truly, I was not really living, just surviving. My heart felt frozen. I was walking in a place with no one beside me because my best friend was overseas where people were killing each other. All I kept praying was “bring him home.”
One morning as my mom was bathing my five-year-old, I heard my daughter ask her what a shepherd is. My mom explained how shepherds take care of sheep. As the bath progressed the conversation became more focused on sheep noises and splashing. But through the noise my heart heard a small voice in that conversation. The Holy Spirit brought three simple words to my mind: Psalm twenty-three.
Scripture Loosens Fear’s Grip
The vice grip loosened a little when I started to remember, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I started to list things that shepherds do for the sheep. They nurture, protect, defend, and primarily love their sheep. The vice grip loosened enough to release a small spark. A little hope in the darkness.
Shepherds look for green pastures, places of quiet and peace. God reminded me of the sweet time before the deployment when my husband held our daughter for the first time. Another slip, a little more light. Less darkness, more hope.
Later when my daughter was watching Veggie Tales, she started laughing at the sheep someone drew. She called out to me to come see the funny sheep. I can still hear her laughter. “He restores my soul” came to my mind. Another slip, now a beam of light. When she laughed, my day brightened and my soul started to rejoice.
On and on throughout the whole deployment, God used Psalm 23 to loosen the bonds of fear, worry, and depression. It was a long, slow process but the light of life, the love of God broke through.
My husband has deployed several other times. And while my hormones have not been as bad as that first deployment, fear, worry, and doubt still threaten to grip my heart when my husband is in harm’s way. The vice doesn’t tighten as hard, but its grip is still strong. Each time, God draws me back to Psalm 23 and reminds me of the benefits of praying His Word back to him.
Here is one of my adaptations of Psalm 23 that I pray each day of my husband’s deployments. Some days I added more comments about specific things he was facing or the fears I was battling.
The Lord is my shepherd, and the shepherd of my servicemember; we shall not want.
He makes us lie down in green pastures and pleasant places.
He leads us besides still waters, through peaceful times.
He restores our souls.
He leads us in the paths of righteousness, where the military sends us
for his name’s sake.
Even though my servicemember walks in danger, even through the shadow of death,
we will fear no evil,
for you are with us;
your rod and your staff they comfort us. They teach us and remind us of your love.
You prepare a table for us, our table overflows with your blessings
in the presence of enemies;
you anoint our heads with oil; our cups overflow.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives,
and we will dwell together in the house of the Lord forever. (cf Psalm 23 ESV)
Praying Scripture Reminds Us of God’s Love and Faithfulness
Shepherd David wrote beautiful prayers to God. Because he turned to God in hard times, the Psalms gives us a place to take our own fears and worries. No matter what he face, David saw God’s creation and loved to write about it, praising God for everyday things. During that first deployment, I forgot to praise God for the little things like laughing babies and silly sheep noises. But now, when I walk around my neighborhood with my kids, God shows off his creation with brilliant sunrises or by allowing me to see different animals. He loves to surprise me with so many different plants, clouds, and even snowflakes. Noticing the beauty all around me brings me comfort.
Whether he was a shepherd or a king, hiding in a cave or living in the castle, no matter his circumstance or situation, David wrote psalms to remind himself and us of God’s love and faithfulness.
I am still not very good at praying Scripture, but I’m learning the benefits of allowing God’s Word to guide my prayers.
When I pray Scripture, I find my heart focusing on God and his love. When I pray Scripture, God’s promises become bigger than my problems. My heart may still feel the vice grip of fear, but the light of God breaks through when I pray Scripture.
Read: Choose one of the following passages to pray Scripture: Psalm 31, Psalm 41, Psalm 40
Reflect: Using the personalization system, write out a prayer from a Psalm.
Respond: What is the hardest part of praying Scripture? What would help you? What changes in your approach do you need to make?
Lord, I (insert your name) call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. Amen. (cf Psalm 17:6 ESV)
If you have specific prayer needs, you can ask our Prayer Team to pray for you by submitting your requests through our Prayer Request page.