Blog — Praying Through the Bible
The last prayer in Genesis is one of the shortest in the Bible. Yet it brings a powerful message of faith. This short prayer has a surprising number of ways we can use it in our own prayer practice.
What is the connection between prayer and action? Between God’s actions and our responsibility? This story of Nehemiah and his prayers gives us the answers to those questions.
In modern world (at least in the Western world) we do not offer many prayer vows. Many may not even know what a “prayer-vow” sounds like. Yet, there are many prayer vows in the Bible—two in Genesis. Dr. McDowell examines the practice of prayer-vows—both proper ones...
Sometimes God calls us to do unexpected things—perhaps life-changing, perhaps just altering a daily course. But rather than dive right into action, the right thing might be to spend time in serious, open prayer, like Nehemiah.
As the book of Ezra focused on rebuilding the Temple and learning to be faithful, so the book of Nehemiah focuses on rebuilding the walls of the city and learning to be faithful. These themes are also found in the prayers, and provide an excellent study for our own prayers when we seek renewal of our faith.
In the ancient world, having children was perhaps more important than today, since they viewed having children as the only way to gain “immortality.” Just as Abraham and Sarah did not conceive for a long time, so also their son Isaac and his wife Rebekah could not conceive. Their story, and their prayers, can help us learn how to petition and inquire of God.
The prayers found in the book of Ezra take place during a unique time in the history of Israel: the King of Persia sends Ezra to lead a large group of Jews back to their homeland after decades of exile. They are to rebuild the Temple and restore their religious practices and worship.
In such a unique period, we might think the prayer would be so specific that they would offer us little to learn for our own prayers. But, like so many other prayers in the Bible, there are always new perspective and insights.
Have you ever cried while praying? Actually cried out loud? I don’t know of many who admit to it, but lot of people in scripture do so. Maybe it is a difference in cultures: people of Middle East (both ancient and modern), tend to be more demonstrative than do Westerners. In this study, we have our first encounter in the Bible with someone who cries as she prays to God.
Why, in this story, is divorce the solution to the people’s sin? There are other passages of scripture which declare that God hates. It is the context of the story that can help us understand the prayer, the divorce, and the terrible and unintended consequences of wrongdoing.
This is the first intercession—a prayer for someone else—offered in the Bible. Abraham prays for a foreign king who took Abraham's wife, Sarah. Interestingly, he only took her because Abraham had told him she was single! What is going on in this story, why did the...