SOURCE: BILL BELLICAN
WHAT IS REFLECTIVE PRAYING?
— UNIQUELY APPLIED SCRIPTURE FOR USE IN TIMES OF NEED, DISTRESS, DESPAIR, CONFUSION, HOPELESSNESS, FEAR, HURT
— A SPIRIT-LED WAY TO READ – MEDITATE – PERSONALIZE – INTERNALIZE – PRAY THE WORD OF GOD
(Based on Psalms for Prayer/T.M. Moore)
The man who prays the psalms will make the thoughts of the psalms his own. He will sing them no longer as verses composed by a prophet, but as born of his own prayers. At least he should use them as intended for his own mouth, and know that they were not fulfilled temporarily in the prophet’s age and circumstances, but are being fulfilled in his daily life.
Abba Isaac, quoted in Western Asceticism
He who recites the Psalms is uttering them as his own words, and each sings them as if they were written concerning him….He handles them as if he is speaking about himself. And the things spoken are such that he lifts them up to God as himself acting and speaking them from himself.
Athanasius, quoted in The Letter to Marcellinus
Our purpose in praying the psalms is to be able to appropriate the words of the psalms as though they were our own words, to know and use these Spirit-given prayers as our own prayers, and to be carried along by them in the power of God’s Spirit as we come into the very presence of God.
Like any worthwhile goal, achieving this will take time and concentrated effort. Begin praying the psalms as a regular discipline. Learning to integrate Scripture into all our prayers can only serve to strengthen our prayers, to give us more confidence in prayer, and to provide us with words to use in coming before God’s throne of grace as often as we have opportunity or need.
The Reflective Praying Process
…but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Rom. 8:5b
And by him (the Holy Spirit), we cry, “Abba, Father.” Rom. 8:15b
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Rom. 8:26, 27.
Reflective Praying is a specific application of praying Scripture. As you read Scripture, (especially the Psalms), appropriate the words of Scripture as though they were your own words. Take these words and let them give an uncensored and honest voice to your specific situation, needs, and emotions. Ask the Holy Spirit to carry you along as you reflect your heart of prayer to the Lord.
The specific steps to take are:
(1) Make sure you have a comfortable, modern translation of the Bible. As
you read a passage or Psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind,
imagination, and awareness to what he wants you to notice. He always
will help in our weakness and inability to know best how to pray (Rom.
(2) While reading, use a highlighter to note a word, phrase, or paragraph
with which you resonate. The Holy Spirit will call your attention to
what to highlight. In so doing, he wants you to know that you can talk
to the Lord about what these highlighted portions are stirring in your
heart and soul.
(3) When finished reading and highlighting and with your Bible and eyes
open, focus your attention on just the highlighted parts. Personalize, expand,
amplify, and apply these highlighted portions to your current situation
and honestly reflect your feelings and words to the Lord. You are not
reciting or reading Scripture to the Lord. You are telling him in light of
what you highlighted how you are affected, what you can or cannot do, the
tensions you have, the struggles you experience, how you feel about God and
his closeness or, even, perceived distance. Ask questions, pause and listen, and
express yourself in a very real, personal, and natural manner to convey to the Lord all that you need to say.
Again, the goal is to willingly invite the Holy Spirit to draw you into a very intimate, personal, uncensored, unashamedly honest conversation with the Lord. It is not that the Lord needs you to inform Him what’s on your mind and troubling your heart. He already intricately knows these things. The Holy Spirit desires that you fully realize you freely can bring the entirety of these things to the Lord without fear of condemnation or rejection. Quite the contrary, He longs to interact with you at this level of honesty and vulnerability as He so loves the relationship with you…and…He wants you to grow in your love of this relationship with Him.