Friday, July 08, 2011

Incline, Open, Unite, Satisfy

I need to be aware of my poverty in spirit more than I need to be eloquent when it comes to talking with God. Yes.

At the same time, I'm still in favor of thoughtful prayers. It's good to pray specific, meaningful things for the people we love. And why settle for "bless and be with so-and-so" when God's Word is a gold mine of prayer prompts?

I first discovered the practice of praying Scripture when I was in college, and I've loved it over the years. There are so many benefits to reading through the Bible and changing the pronouns to turn psalms and gospels and epistles and promises into personal or intercessory prayer! Besides the fact that the prayers are richer, I've found two other significant benefits: First, it increases my general familiarity with the Word. Certain passages get prayed over and over again, they become favorites, they become part of the everyday language of my prayers, part of my thinking.

Second, I love the confidence that I am praying in line with God's will. First John 5:14-15 tells us that "if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." So often when we pray, we couch it in terms of, "if it's Your will." We don't really know if it's God's will to heal this person's sickness, to grant that person a specific job, to bring these two people together in marriage. But there is so much we *can* know and pray with confidence, if we simply pray His revealed will--His Word!

One basic Scripture prayer I have used countless times over the years is an acronym I learned from John Piper's book When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. He describes an IOUS prayer: Incline, Open, Unite, Satisfy. This prayer captures several beautiful things; I can pray it for my beloved husband, whom I know intimately, and I can pray it for the church member whom I don't know well at all. I can pray it for my boys, who don't yet walk with Jesus, and I can pray it for my pastor, who has been serving Him for years. Four verses from Psalms:

INCLINE: Psalm 119:36
"Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!"
I often modify this one to "increase," to fit my natural vocabulary, praying that God would increase the person's hunger for His Word.

OPEN: Psalm 119:18
"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
I ask God to enable the person to see beauty in His Word, as well as enable them to see all of life from His perspective.

UNITE: Psalm 86:11
"Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name."
I pray for the person to have an undivided heart, to fear God alone and not worship idols.

SATISFY: Psalm 90:14
"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days."
Finally, I ask that the person would be satisfied with God's unfailing love--that they would know His love deeply, know the gospel, and not look anywhere else for satisfaction.

Incline, Open, Unite, Satisfy. Such a simple little acronym, but so full of rich truth. I also found a blog post at Desiring God that unpacks it and meditates on these verses a bit more.

If you've never prayed Scripture before, try starting here and see how it adds a new dimension to your prayer life! And if this is already a regular practice for you, I'd love to hear how you've found it helpful or what other passages you especially love to pray for yourself or for those you love.


Jen said...

Thanks Amy for sharing! I've recently become a prayer journal enthusiast. It has helped my prayer life become much more focused. And I can see what God is doing in the lives of the people I am led to pray for over the life of the journals. He has alos placed me in the Psalms during this season of my life. A great way to pray HIS word. Have a beautiful day you are one amazing mommy!

Danielle said...

Loved this post, Amy. I too, love praying God's word. Janet Pope makes the same point as you do about wondering God's will when praying. When we pray God's word, we never have to wonder about that.