Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet: Scripture Prayer
By Cindy VanderHaar
Why is it so important to know God’s Word? And what does it have to do with prayer?
The Bible is abounding with inspiration and information about every aspect of life. Every verse has significance, and God makes it clear that all scripture is very important to Him. He tells us to let His Word dwell richly within us – not just a little bit, but “richly.” In the beginning of the book of Joshua, He commands us to meditate on the Word day and night so that we will be careful to live accordingly and thereby have prosperity and success. The longest Psalm in the Bible, Psalm 119, emphasizes the importance of His Word repeatedly. He declares that His Word will live on forever– even though everything in our own earthly lives will eventually perish.
He charges us to live by every Word that comes from His mouth. Why? Is it because He is demanding obedience and submission? No, it is so much more. His motivation is His great love and compassion for us. He is Love.
Just A Few Reasons
When you buy a new car, the designers of that vehicle give you a manual. No one knows your car better than the manufacturers. That manual tells you how to take care of your car so that it will run well and keep running well. God is our awesome Creator and designer, and He has given us the Bible, not only as our complete manual for life, but for something even more powerful.
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea : who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:10-11
The Lord speaks highly of men who are eager to study and examine His Word. He calls them “noble” men. Webster’s Dictionary defines “noble” as “possessing outstanding qualities, indicating superiority, and commanding excellence of mind and character, or high ideals or morals.” This kind of man is fixed and established on God’s Word and even honored by God. Wow, wouldn’t we all like to be called “noble” by God?
In The Beginning
The world actually began with the Words God spoke. God knew the magnificent earth He wanted to create. He had an absolute and perfect blueprint waiting to be birthed into existence. It included every aspect and intricacy of life on this planet. And when He was ready, the very Words of His mouth, coming from His heart of love and propelled by His eternal authority, brought that vision into the reality that we can see and feel today. No words have more power or integrity.
In the beginning, God only had to say, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1). When He said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters,” our atmosphere and oceans were created. He spoke the land into existence when He declared, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place and let the dry land appear” and the land appeared. He said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation,” and it did. The stars were hung in the universe when He proclaimed with His own mouth, “Let the lights be in the heavens to separate day and night and for signs and seasons.” And it was the actual words He uttered, mixed with His faith and His authority, that brought all the creatures on the earth into being.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish. Psalm 112
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5-7
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Proverbs 30:5
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. Genesis 1:3-14
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33:6-9
Nothing Has Changed
During creation, the words that God spoke were very alive and actively producing His desires. Today, His Word is still “living” and “active.” His promises are operating in thousands of people’s lives with evidence such as salvation, healing, deliverance, and miracles. In Proverbs 4:22, God says His Words are LIFE to those who find them and HEALTH to their whole body. Normal, everyday, natural words written on paper cannot produce life and health.
This evidence of power was also seen in Jesus because He and the Father are one. He was called the “living Word sent by God.” He told His disciples that His Words had power, “The words that I speak are spirit and life.” He is the Word (the promise of the Messiah) that became flesh and came to earth to live among us. Even in Revelations 19:13, it says that Jesus’ name is called the “Word of God.” Psalm 107:20 says that God “sent His word and healed them.” It is no surprise that Jesus healed many people during his three-year ministry on earth and continues to do so today.
The Word Changes Us
There is power in God’s promises and proclamations to change many things in our lives. In 2 Timothy 3:16, God explains that His Word will teach us, correct us, and train us so that we will be equipped for all He calls us to do. His Word gives us direction for our lives and has power to save us for eternity.
It is also our standard of conduct. When we faithfully study and treasure the Bible in our hearts, it will restrain us from sinning. (And we need all the help we can get!) We often don’t see what is in our own hearts because we are distracted, deceived, or complacent. God’s Word is like the flashlight that can shine into the deep places and bring the illumination we need. It convicts us and allows us to repent without condemnation so we can receive His merciful forgiveness and obtain a deeper understanding of His powerful love for us.
We are created in God’s image and the words we speak also have power. Our words can bring life or death. So much is written about the things we say. In James 3, we are reminded of how we use the same mouth to bless God and then curse men who are created in His likeness. We are told that the tongue cannot be tamed and that it is often full of poison. Yes, life and death are in the power of the tongue. We are not to let anything come from our mouths that does not edify or minister grace to others.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Proverbs 4:20-22
But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. John 10:38
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him….He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. John 14:7,24
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
And Jesus went about all Galilee , teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Matthew 4:23
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 9:35
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
What Does This Have To Do With Prayer?
Why should we speak scripture to God in prayer? Doesn’t He already know it? Why does He say in Isaiah 43:26, “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.” He is telling us to put Him in remembrance of His Words? It is for our sake. Think about how we teach our own children. We tell them something and then we ask them, “Now, what did I say to you?” When we tell a baby not to touch a hot stove, we say, “Hot! Don’t touch.” Later, we rejoice when they point to the stove and say, “Hot!” We are pleased because this is for their good and we love them. God is pleased with us in the same way. God requires that we learn His Word and speak His Word for our own good, not His.
Many of us have prayed the “prayer of agreement” found in Matthew 18:19 (NAS), “…if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in Heaven.” So, we often look for a partner to pray with because there is power when two people pray and agree together. When we pray the Words and promises God has already spoken, we are putting ourselves in agreement with Him — the creator of the universe. There are two of us agreeing — God and us! Who better to agree with than God, Himself?
He calls His Words “great and precious promises” and says that He watches over His Word to perform it. That means He will keep His promises. (Numbers 23:19 says: “God is not a man, that he should lie…”). In Isaiah 55, He likens His Word to rain, “For as the rain and the snow come down and do not return without watering the earth and making it bloom and sprout and furnishing seed for the sower, so shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth. It will not return unto me void without accomplishing all that I desire and without succeeding for which it was sent.” God means what He says.
Someone has said, “Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of His willingness.” Because God says the answers to His promises are “yes and amen,” we can pray His promises with confidence and faith to receive the answer. (If you need something, are you going to be more confident asking someone who has already promised to help you, or someone who has not?) So His promises in the Bible are a testimony of His love and His willingness. In James 4:2-3, He said, “You have not because you ask not.” What a statement! (In the same verse, he admonishes us to ask with the right motives in order to receive answered prayer. We are not to ask “amiss”.)
God really does want us to have a DEEP knowledge of His will so that we will live better, more fruitful lives. We can learn more about His will as we pray and study the Bible. When we learn what God says about an issue (His will), it will help us to know how to live and pray confidently with less asking “amiss.” .
So…when we pray and agree with the Word, we are agreeing with God’s Word and it is alive and full of power and it is living and active. It is not just words on a page. It works in us and changes us. Ephesians 3:20 states that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we can ask or think according to the power that works in us. Our part is to meditate and pray His Word and let it work in us.
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. 2 Corinthians 2:17
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any doubleedged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
It is not magic, and it is not a way to try to force the hand of God. And it’s not a matter of rote, religious repetition. As we meditate and speak the Word, faith begins to arise in our hearts. And it is through faith that we receive the great and precious promises. (In Hebrews 4:12, there were those who heard the Word, but it did not profit them because “it was not united by faith.”) Praying scripture is a way to pray where God’s Word can begin to work in you to produce faith to receive the promise. As you patiently knock on the door of heaven with the Word, faith will begin to grow in your heart.
Faith And Patience
The Word of God really is like a seed. Jesus is talking about the Word when He tells the parable of the sower and the seed. And it takes time for a seed to produce fruit. A farmer can believe a seed will germinate, but he must have patience to see it sprout. He can not dig up the seeds each day to see if they have germinated. That would be walking by sight instead of walking by faith. And Hebrews 6:12 says that it is with faith and patience that we inherit the promises. So do not give up in believing God’s Word and praying His promises. When you believe you prayed the promise with faith, just start thanking Him for the answer and continue thanking Him until you see it “sprout.” Be patient! Know that God is at work in YOU and in the situation, even though you can not see the results you desire yet. The perfect answer may not be what you envisioned. In Luke 18:1, Jesus said we are to pray and not lose hope.
And in Jeremiah 33:3, our faithful Father says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” He does not lie, so He will answer you. It may not always come the way you expected it, but it will come. I’m so glad He didn’t say, “Call on Me and I will listen.” He said, “Call on Me and I will answer and I will show you great and mighty things.” He is a God of action – a God who responds to your prayers because of His great love and compassion for you.
Satan will challenge you and make circumstances look bleak, but stand firm, be patient, and believe God. In the Amplified Bible, James 1:2-4 explains it this way, “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be (people) perfectly and fully developed (with no defects), lacking in nothing.” So while we wait for an answer, there is also a work going on in us.
Remember, it is Satan who comes to kill, steal and destroy, but it is Jesus who has come that we can have life abundantly. We are to submit to God and resist the enemy. Oh, yes, there will be tribulations and trials, but with Jesus we can be overcomers. Jesus encourages us in Matthew 18:1 where he tells us to “pray and don’t lose heart.” James 1:12 also says we are “blessed” when we are patient under trial, for we can later receive the crown of life promised to those who love Jesus.
We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message? Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:16-17
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed.’ Matthew 13:3
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
It can take time to build faith to receive. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves needing healing, comfort, peace, or finances, and only then did we look to the scriptures to study those topics. It is best to plant the seed in our hearts daily so there is a harvest ready when we need it. We are not to get upset or blame God when we have to wait or if we have a “crop failure.” (Remember there were several conditions in the parable for the seed to come to fruition. And we don’t always have all the facts in a situation.)
Fortunately, our heavenly Father, in His mercy and love, will show us the way out. He also provides the free gifts of the spirit like healing, faith, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, miracles and more to meet our need and help our understanding. He gives us brothers and sisters in the Lord to add their faith to ours in prayer. But it is best to already have His Word in our own hearts. So we must plant the Word in our hearts every day. We can’t “over-read” the Bible. It is the real gift “that keeps on giving.”
How To Begin:
Start with daily Bible reading. As you read, apply the scripture to your own life in prayer. Repent where the Word convicts you, give thanks where you see you are blessed, worship where you see His goodness, ask for the things He says He will provide, and pray for others. (We are called to pray on behalf of ALL men, not just those we like.) Pay attention to scripture that explains hindrances to answered prayer. And then take time to focus on the areas you know are weak in your life. If you need healing, study and meditate on those scriptures. If you need peace or forgiveness, meditate on those scriptures. Find out what God says about it. Your faith will increase to believe His promises above your circumstances. And as you continue to meditate on His promises, doubt and fear will be replaced by faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Eventually, with faith and patience, you will reap a harvest in that area.
We must also remember that faith works by LOVE. As you read your Bible, pay special attention to sections and scripture about love. Carefully study 1 Corinthians 13 to learn about God’s kind of love and the love He has put in us. His love is perfect and casts out all fear and our fears sometimes seem larger than our faith. Learn all you can about walking in love.
Come boldly to God with your requests and with thanksgiving. Remember that you have been made righteous through the blood of Jesus and your righteousness is not based on your own goodness or history. Because of this, we are to come boldly before His throne of grace and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Do not hesitate to ask! He says we “have not, because we ask not.” There is much to be gained when you are diligent in prayer. When we are blessed with an answer to prayer, we must also remember to give God ALL THE GLORY. He is the Loving God who sent His Son to bring us new life. He is the Awesome One who gave us the promises. He is the Magnificent One who taught us to pray. He is the Marvelous Almighty One who placed faith in our hearts to start with. And He is the Faithful One who answered the prayer. Exalt Him! .
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone… 1 Timothy 2:1
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2 -3
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34 (NAS)
Praying the Scriptures is only one aspect of prayer that we learn about in the Bible. There is much more than we could share in one teaching. Be sure to study and learn more. Look up the scripture references in this article and examine the Scripture Prayer examples and other teachings offered in the Prayer Room. May God richly bless your journey in prayer.
Cindy VanderHaar is a wife, mother, Christian writer and teacher, and homeschooler. Her heart is in prayer and missions. She has a B.A. in Biology from Arizona State University and a Certificate of Comparative Education from Oxford University in England . She and her husband live in Mesa, Arizona and have been a part of the Christ Unlimited Ministry for more than twenty years.
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And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:11
Scripture Prayer: Why Pray Scripture was written to lift up and encourage the body of believers; sharing your testimony is one of the ways that we continue to overcome the enemy.