Should I Use the Bible When I Pray?

Oftentimes we view prayer and reading the Bible as distinct disciplines in the Christian life. Is there a way in which we should be using the Bible in our prayers?

For me it is inevitable and absolutely necessary. For example, if I try to pray for people or events without having the word in front of me guiding my prayers, then several negative things happen. One is that I tend to be very repetitive from day to day and hour to hour, and I just pray the same things all the time. Another negative thing is that my mind tends to wander, and I think instead about what I'm wearing, or that there is a Venetian blind that is halfway open, or that there is a siren out on the street and I'm wondering what is happening. I'm jerked all over the place by my inattentiveness.

But the Bible holds my attention because I'm looking at it and reading it. And it gives me biblical things to pray for so that I'm not praying with empty and vague requests like "God bless them" and "God bless that." Rather, I'm asking for specific things that the Bible commends.

For me it is absolutely essential that my prayers be guided by, saturated by, and sustained and controlled by the word of God. I've said to people, "You can pray all day if you pray the Bible." Some people wonder how you can pray longer than five minutes, because they would lose things to pray for. But I say that if you open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer, then you can pray all day that way.