Why You Should Have a Prayer Bible
In a previous blog to encourage you to pray effectively, I wrote about the importance of having a prayer journal. They are extremely useful for recording some of your prayer needs and answers to prayers as well. A prayer journal is greatly encouraging because it can help you see the prayer needs that are being met and it can be convicting as well when it shows the way that we neglect meaningful prayer. We are commanded to pray but it will require great discipline on our part to do so (1 Tim. 4:7-8). There are a host of commands that we find in the Word of calls to prayer. A prayer journal can help you to become more focused and more disciplined in your prayers.
I think that most of the people who read this blog are familiar with the Pentecostals of Alexandria in Louisiana. It is led by Pastor Anthony Mangun who has been there since the early ‘80’s and prior to that, his father, Bishop G. A. Mangun was the pastor. One of the most important ministries of that church is the 24-hour prayer chain that has been ongoing since 1968 or so. It is designed to follow 3-hour shifts. A number of years ago at Because of the Times, I saw the signup sheets that are used. They have at least three people present and praying around the clock. Over the years, I have dropped in to pray at POA several times at varying times of the day when I was passing through the city. I have been in there in the late evening and also in the early morning hours and there is always someone in the prayer area. The prayer rooms used to be located in the G. A. Mangun center, but they have been moved now to the newer building that houses the sanctuary. Two prayer areas are located to the sides of the sanctuary and in one of them is a layout of the Tabernacle where you are encouraged to pray through it as a patterned prayer. They also have a table that has a large glass container to place written prayer needs in it. Various prayer guides are also available and there are also framed pictures on the walls that are themed toward prayer. It was during one of those times that I had slipped in to pray probably in the early ‘90’s that I saw several of the older saints who had open Bibles laying on the prayer altars that were in the room. So that I would not be a nosy soul, I occasionally would slip a furtive glance over at them to see what they were doing with the Bibles. After watching and listening to them, I realized they were praying through the Psalms. That was the first time that I had observed this practice taking place and struck me in a very powerful way. Some time passed before I started practicing it as well, greatly to my benefit. I will never ever forget one Saturday night at our church that I made an effort pray the Word. It was pushing midnight and I was alone in our old church on the front row sitting under one of the sidelights which barely illuminated the old sanctuary. The following Scriptures were the ones I started praying through:
1 Timothy 6:11–16 (KJV) 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
I prayed about the things I wanted to flee from which are in the previous verses (even chapters of 1 Timothy), particularly about the trap that money can bring into the lives of ministers. But the thought of praying about things I wanted to flee from expanded and things that I would not have normally thought of began to enter my prayers. Next, the focus of the prayer turned to the things I wanted to follow after which are character traits that need to be evident in my life. The same thing happened, and other character traits entered my requests to the Lord. Then the prayer moved on to the things I wanted to fight for, and this really opened up the avenues of thought for prayer. Finally, I let Paul help me to see what an incredibly sobering moment it would be for me to stand before the Lord and given an answer for the charge that had been laid out to all apostolic ministers who have been called into service. From that time on, I paddled around in the shallows of having a Bible with me at all times when I was praying especially in the private times of prayer.
The only regret I have was during those days, I thought that writing in a Bible was anathema. Even though I had seen Brother Griffin’s well-used Oxford Wide-Margin KJV and also his Dugan Reference Bible which had been very much marked up, there was still some hesitation on my part to do so. I am now guessing that probably 25 years ago, I started marking up my Bibles. More and more I have come to believe that marked up Bibles can help us to see spiritual progress that we are making as time marches on. This is just food for thought; I doubt your family is going to want your iPhone, iPad, or Android when you finally pass on from this life, but they will treasure a well-marked, prayed through, and wept over Bible.
What are some things you should mark up in a “prayer” Bible? If you have a personal library either physical or digital, make your books work for you. Look at your books as if they are tools, or even soldiers that are under your command, and get the most out of them. Herbert Lockyer’s All the Prayers in the Bible, E. M. Bounds single volume works on prayer, Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer, Dr. Jim Rosscup’s four volumes on prayer (given to me by Pastor Tony Mansinho) of all the prayers in the OT/NT, and John Eckhardt’s prayer books are all very good tools to push you into a direction of biblically driven praying. Read through those prayers and then outline them in your Bible. On another practical tip as well, use Flair marker pens and take the colors and use them for a variety of themes. However, to keep track of your colors, mark them in the front of the Bible so you don’t just begin to haphazardly mismark your Bible. Some of the different colors I use are for doctrinal content, holiness themes, spiritual warfare, and the kingdom of God. One of the mistakes I made early on was not have a precise color system. What the color choices do is help you to look through a “prayer” Bible and pick up on particular themes of prayer that you need to give yourself to: intercession, supplication, repentance, empowerment, enlightenment, and discernment.
Another one of the things that praying the Scriptures will do is force you to look at verses in their proper context. For instance, there are four prayers that Paul prayed as given in his prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians) that confronted some faulty understanding that I had of how God operates in the churches. Paul prayed for doctrinal understanding, a proper foundation in Christian living, to be filled with holiness, and spiritual understanding. When you began to pray for this in your local church especially if you are a pastor or in some role as a spiritual leader, it can really move you to a place of clarity as to what we should be praying for. In my thoughts, perhaps the majority of our prayers are focused more on material and physical needs than for the spiritual work both individually and corporately for the kingdom of God. There is also a wealth of instruction that can be mined out by looking at what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) which is really the disciple’s prayer. If you truly want to look at the Lord’s prayer, go to John 17 and work through that during your prayer time and it can add so much to your understanding as to what the Lord really wanted to see happen in our lives and the forward movement of the apostolic church.
Lastly, I would encourage you to let your “prayer” Bible be perhaps a different translation that you do not normally use. I have picked up an ESV that I have set aside to use specifically as a “prayer” Bible in an effort to do all that I can to help me deepen my own work in prayer. Next week, I will lobby for the need to have regular prayer revivals and other matters that will encourage you to foster a prayerful spirit in your local church.
Again, thanks for dropping by. . .
January 7, 2021