This summer, I went through a new Bible study on prayer called On Bended Knee: Praying like Prophets, Warriors, and Kings by Crickett Keeth. Crickett is the women’s ministry director at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, where I grew up. She is also a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, where my husband earned his Th.M. So we have many mutual connections which helped stir my initial interest in this study. I’ve also been impressed with the growing number of Bible studies being offered by Moody Publishers (where my husband also happens to work!) and have enjoyed using them over the last few years as resources to dig into God’s Word.
Though I have read a number of excellent books on prayer (from Andrew Murray, Tim Keller, Paul Miller, and others), what I particularly like about On Bended Knee is that it takes you through actual prayers in the Bible. You don’t just learn about prayer (important though that is), you read and study real prayers of all kinds (confession, lament, longing, intercession, boldness, etc.) found in Scripture. In so doing, we can learn from how others prayed and find a model for us.
I recently heard a podcaster answering a question about prayer. She said something to the effect of “there’s no formula, just start talking.” And while that can be true, we actually do have a model for our prayer given to us by Jesus Himself in the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13. This is something I pray oftentimes daily, and so I loved it that Crickett opened the study with this model prayer, taking us through those elements of it.
The next lesson was from the prayers of Paul. It was a good time to memorize Ephesians 3:14-21. What a great passage to pray for people!
The study also looked at the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. As I was preparing to drop off a child at college, this was a timely prayer. I prayed through it and thought about it for 2 or 3 weeks in advance. By watching how Hannah was able to leave Samuel at the temple and her attitude in so doing, I wondered: could I also give thanks for all God had done in this child’s life, literally sparing her life at the outset, and dedicate her to the Lord again in this next step, not holding back or coming unglued emotionally as the empty nest approached? On the evening I left her, there was a worship service where the president of the college preached — and guess what was the passage? 1 Samuel 1, a sweet gift and reminder to me.
Each of the 8 weeks held meaningful lessons in different ways through studying other kinds of prayer. For example, in learning about lament, did you know there is an element of repentance? When things seem against us, or someone has truly wronged us, isn’t it easy to feel sorrowful and cry out to God wanting him to make it right? And yet, do we bring into our prayers and cries this element of personal repentance? Or are we only looking at it from where we feel injured, not even noticing our own need for forgiveness?
One thing I also noticed is it’s easier to study prayer than to pray! I can sit on my sofa and read and answer questions and reflect and affirm these truths, but do I actually then get down on bended knee and do the work of prayer? Something happens when we do, when we approach the throne of grace in this posture of humility, walking through the model prayer, beseeching the Lord for things bigger than ourselves that only He can do, entering into His presence through Jesus who made a way for us to have access to this throne of grace.
One of the marks of a good Bible study, I think, is that it gets you into the Bible, God’s Word. It gives you a taste of these truths and makes you long to know more. As good as the study is, you want to go deeper and answer even more questions. As we pray and the Spirit guides us, we learn more than what is in the study. And in a good study like this one, you almost miss the author. I didn’t see Crickett much at all. But I saw the One to whom she was directing us. God, who He is, and His Word were the focus, and she was an instrument to leading us there. We will never regret time in the Word — and in prayer, on bended knee.
I have an extra copy of On Bended Knee that I’d love to send someone. If you are interested, leave a note in the comments, and I’ll drop it in the mail to one of you on Friday of next week.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)