Praying Scripture Back to God

Using Scripture When You Don't Know What to Pray

Prayer is foundational to the work of Bible translation. We’ve seen lives changed, hearts transformed and entire communities impacted as a result of people praying specifically that God would make himself known among the nations! Prayer is powerful, and it is one way God has invited us to join him in his work.

But how can we pray when we don’t know what to pray? Or rather, what new things to pray for? Our prayer life can feel monotonous if we’re praying the same things over and over again. And that’s often the case when praying for a people group waiting for the Bible in their own language. Updates can be infrequent and we don’t know what new things to ask God for.

Why Does the Bible Matter?

Because of Scripture, people are freed from addiction, families are healed and lives are transformed. Check out the power of Bible translation in our free e‑book, “In Your Own Words.”

Thankfully, he knows! When we use God’s own words by praying Scripture, we’re aligning ourselves with his heart and praying according to his will. What better way is there to give our prayer life new meaning?

So when words fail you, open up the Bible and allow God’s words to be your prayer. Here are a few tips that can help get you started:

Find a quiet place to connect with God.

Our lives are so busy, and our days are constantly filled with noise. When we find a quiet place to pray we are able to connect with him without distraction. We can focus on letting his Word speak to us and direct our prayers.

Begin by praying a Scripture that prepares your heart for connecting intimately with God.

Some possible examples include:

  • “Gracious God, I come boldly to your throne. I need your mercy and grace in my life” (Based on Hebrews 4:16).

  • “Lord, I need you. Please open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions” (Based on Psalm 119:18).

Use a verse or passage to shape your prayer.

You can do this by praying the verse back to God and inserting the name of a specific people group to make the prayer more personal. If you don’t know where to begin, the book of Psalms has some great prayers! Whether you’re looking to declare God’s goodness, beg him to listen or praise his holy name, there’s a psalm that can become your prayer. Paul’s epistles also have some great encouragements and prayers, like Colossians 1:3-13. It’s a wonderful example of a passage to pray for a community that is learning about God in their own language for the first time!

  • “Lord, the whole earth is yours, and everything in it! The world and all its people belong to you — including the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island. May these people understand the depth of your love for them today” (Based on Psalm 24:1).

Allow imagery from Scripture to influence your prayer.

Revelation 7:9-10 shows us all nations, peoples and languages gathered around the throne, worshipping God. Pray that becomes a reality here on earth soon, and pray specifically for the people group that’s on your heart to be a part of this gathering.

Turn a verse into a first- or third-person prayer.

“You have saved the Dukawa people of Nigeria, and you have called them to live a holy life. You did this, not because your children deserved it, but because it was your plan from before the beginning of time — to show the Dukawa, and all of us, your grace through Jesus Christ” (Based on 2 Timothy 1:9).

Pick a verse and declare it as truth for a people group or nation.

“Lord, your Word says in Acts 2:21 that everyone who calls on your name will be saved. I pray that the Roma people will call on your name as a result of having your Word in their own language. Save these people for your glory!”

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray.

Praying for a translation project or people group can feel overwhelming for many reasons, but God knows your heart! In Romans we see that the Holy Spirit actually prays on our behalf when we don’t know what to say. So allow the Holy Spirit to pray for you when you can’t think of what — or how — to pray yourself.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. — Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)

God invites us to intimately connect with him through prayer, and what better way to do that than to use his own words in the Bible! And as you pray Scripture, you’ll find new ways to talk to God too.

God knows your heart, and he knows your desire to pray on behalf of the Bibleless peoples of the world. Trust that as you faithfully commit to pray, he will be faithful in answering your prayers according to his perfect will.