Adapting An Ancient Practice

In my previous articles I’ve discussed various aspects of prayer. In this article I want to encourage a particular prayer practice to you. It is one that is not new, it is in fact very old, but it might be new to you. It was new to me several years ago. It is the practice of using the Bible to guide our prayers and by that I mean using the actual words and language of Scripture.* Allowing the very words of the Bible to inform how we pray. This is a practice that has been advocated throughout church history and is even something Jesus himself did as he was on the cross when he prayed Psalm 22.  

But rather than simply urging you to pray the Bible, I want to give you a practical application of it for your English Language Ministries. How can we let the Bible inform our prayers for English Language Ministries? What are some specific Scriptures you could use to guide your prayers as you pray for the people you are ministering to?

Take Ephesians 2:11-22 for example. If they are not yet believers you could pray for God to be reconciling them to himself, that they would no longer be alienated from him, and that the walls of hostility between God and them would be broken down as they are brought near by the blood of Christ. If the people you are teaching English to are already believers, you can thank God that you are fellow citizens with them as saints and members of the household of God even though you do not share the same first language. You can praise him for the way he is building you up together into the dwelling place for God. 

Another Bible passage you could pray is Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission, a passage that all believers are called to participate in. For these verses you could thank Jesus that he has authority over all things, including the individuals you are ministering to. But as you progress to verse 19 there is a powerful statement that will specifically apply to your ministry to them. “Make disciples of all nations.” You could pray something like “Jesus I thank you that you have authority over all nations and you desire for people from all nations to be your disciples. I pray that as I minister to this person from ______ nation that they would become your disciple.” Following this you could pray “God it is your desire for people to know what you have commanded, and I pray that as this person learns English that I would better be able to help them know your teaching and word. Lord it is a good thing for them.” Obviously knowing English is not a prerequisite for these things, but God has placed you in this person’s life to seek to accomplish these things, which leads to another verse.

In the book of Acts when Paul is speaking in the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-34), he declares to them that God has made from one man every nation and he “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek him.” As you minister to the participants in your groups you can thank God for his providential guidance of bringing them into your life during this season. You can ask God to use the purposeful orchestration of the intersection of your life and theirs to bring them to salvation. He is at work in bringing these people to you for his purpose to reveal himself to them that some of them might be saved. What an amazing privilege to be used by God is such a way! 

These are just a few examples of how you can use the Bible to guide your prayers. I hope as you think about your ESL ministry that you will cover it in prayer and use God’s word to pray over the individuals you minister to each and every week. 

*If you’d like to read more about the practice of praying the Bible, Donald Whitney has an excellent book entitled Praying the Bible on the topic.

This is the fourth in a series of 4 articles on Prayer by pastor and author Jon Varner, who just released his new book Prayer Sparks: The Gospel of Mark. Read the rest of the series:

Elderly hands folded in lap while praying

Why He Answers

Previously, I wrote about four foundational truths we affirm when we pray, and then I…

Read More
Elderly hands folded in lap while praying

More Than Capable

In my last article I shared with you four foundational truths about prayer. You could,…

Read More
Elderly hands folded in lap while praying

Assumptions of Prayer

When it comes to the Christian life there are several fundamental and foundational habits. Perhaps…

Read More

Leave a Comment