In the early 1980s, I attended a weekend workshop called “Change the World School of Prayer” led by World Literature Crusade. Besides teaching participants what the Bible says about prayer, the workshop also gave practical instruction on how to pray for one hour. I was given a 209-page workbook about prayer, which I still have. If I were not literate, it would have been very difficult for me to participate in the course, and to refer to the workbook over the years. If I were not literate, I could not have examined the Scriptures to see if what was taught was biblical. This workshop was pivotal for me as a young Christian to understand and value prayer in my life.
Since then, I have read many books on prayer. They have included some classics by E.M. Bounds and Andrew Murray, as well as some modern writers such as Greg Pruett and Paul E. Miller. Reading books on prayer helps me to grow in my understanding of what prayer is and what it can become. It helps me to learn about some different practices. It helps me to reflect on practicing the presence of God and about a prayer-filled life.
One of the practices I first learned at the school of prayer is to pray using God’s Word. In recent years, I have grown more in doing this. In order to do this, one either needs to be literate or know the Word from memory. Because I struggle to memorize and remember, I rely on being able to read the Word. It is important to pray the Word in the proper context. We have a good example of that in Daniel 9—Daniel understood what God’s prophecy was and prayed accordingly.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How do we know the will of the Father? From the Bible. As we read, study and meditate on Scripture, we will know more and more the will of God. Then we can pray the same phrases and passages in the appropriate context in our lives, and over our families, communities, and the world.
Prayer is much more than talking to God and asking Him for things. Prayer is communing with God, listening to Him, and being in a loving relationship with Him. Having the Word of God in our own language is very, very helpful for this. When you want to be intimate with someone, what language do you use? Most of us use our heart language, the primary language of communication in our homes. For me, that is English. Thus, I use an English Bible. As I read His words of love, compassion, intimacy, promise, and instruction, I am drawn more and more into an intimate relationship with Him.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2, NRSV). As my workbook from the school of prayer states, “God’s Word is vital in prayer because in it, God Himself is speaking.”
Is there a link between your prayer life and literacy? Thank you for investing in literacy and Bible translation, so that more people can grow in their intimacy with God.