Of course, you can read a prayer. Nothing is wrong with reading a prayer as long as your heart is engaged and you are directing the prayer to God as a way of expression and not simply going through the motions of “praying.”
Prayer is the channel of relationship with God. Without it, we do not have fellowship with Him and we will not have a healthy relationship either.
It is similar to a marriage. You can be married and yet never speak to one another. Your relationship is still intact because you are still married, but your fellowship is completely broken. And if there is a broken fellowship for long enough the relationship will break as well.
For this reason, it is critical that we take the time every day to fellowship with God through prayer. This is only possible through our hearts engaging with the Lord. If we simply go through the motions we are doing nothing but a religious duty and God is never pleased with our performance.
Jesus said it best when He quoted Isaiah to the Pharisees…
“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:7-9)
We do not want to fall into this category of hypocrites. Our hearts should bring God praise and honor just like our lips do. And so it should be when we are reading a prayer.
Is reading a prayer the same as praying?
Reading a prayer can be the same as praying provided it has the same heart engagement as traditional prayer. All prayer is found in expressing our heart to God through words and adoration. If reading a prayer does this then it can be classified as the same as praying.
If we read a prayer we should do it in a way so that our hearts are being drawn to God the more that we read. We do not want to read the prayer without the sense of God being near.
If we feel our hearts wandering from Him we should re-read the line and maybe say it in our own words so that the heart continually stays active and engaged.
God is not after our words, actions, or performances, He is after our hearts.
It’s important to understand that God has chosen to live inside of men. He has chosen to dwell among those who have believed and repented. God is not after the words that we speak. He is after the heart in which we speak those words.
So when we are reading a prayer it is important to understand this so that we place a high priority on the engagement of our hearts and ensure that our affections are directed to the Lord.
How to read a prayer
When reading a prayer it is important to not get stuck going through the motions but to instead to actively engage the heart to commune with the Lord.
Follow these few simple steps to ensure that you are communing with the Lord through the prayer that you are reading.
Step 1: Read the prayers of the Bible
Don’t just read any prayer. Some prayers are not biblically accurate and can lead you astray.
I suggest you read the prayers of the Bible, especially the prayers of the New Testament. You can read them over other people or over yourself.
But be very careful about what prayers you are choosing to read if it is prayer outside of the Bible. Ensure you know your Bible so that you can pick prayers that are in line with scripture.
If you pick a prayer in the Old Testament understand that those people were under a different covenant than us. They did not have Jesus’ shed blood and His resurrection, nor did they have the Spirit of God inside of them. This changes how we address God, how God addresses us, and how God addresses the world. So be wise when choosing a prayer from the Old Testament.
Step 2: Read the prayer slowly, line by line
If you read the prayer like it is a novel or a textbook you won’t suck the nutrients out of what you are reading.
Read slowly and read the prayer one line at a time. Pausing and meditating on the prayer.
Step 3: Be aware of God as you read
Don’t just read the prayer without being aware of God.
Awareness of God is what makes prayer, prayer. Without awareness of Him and without reading the prayer to Him you are simply reading nice-sounding words. It is religious rhetoric at this point. Don’t fall victim to this.
Take the time to be aware of God and have your eyes fixed on Him as you read.
Step 4: Say the prayer in your own words to the Lord
Once you read a line take the time to say that line in your own words. God desires to hear your heart through your speech.
Don’t be concerned with how you sound. You are not there to impress anyone. God wants you to come before Him so that you can know each other intimately. This is only possible if you express your heart.
So take the time to say a line in your own words, thanking Him for the truths that you found in your reading.
Step 5: Take the time to re-read the prayer
Don’t be afraid to re-read the prayer. Go back over it. You may notice a few things you didn’t catch before.
Speak to the Lord about the new things you found and thank Him for the truths you discover. Ask Him to make certain truths a reality in your life.
Can reading the Bible count as prayer?
It is possible that reading the Bible can count as a form of prayer, but it does not count as communion with the Lord which is the primary purpose of prayer. Our Bible reading time should not replace our prayer life, we need both if we want a fruitful relationship with God that is growing every day.
King David implied in the fifth Psalm that meditation and prayer are the same.
“Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray.” (Psalm 5:1-3)
Notice how David used meditation and prayer interchangeably in these few verses. That is because meditation is a form of prayer.
Now Biblical meditation is not sitting on a hill with crossed legs and eyes closed saying, “Ohmm”.
So judging from this, reading the Bible is a form of prayer. However, the primary purpose of prayer is to fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9, Philippians 2:1, 1 John 1:3), petition Him for the saints and for our needs (Ephesians 6:18), and to thank Him for all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
We can not possibly do all of this by only reading our Bible. This is why we need both, prayer and the reading of scripture to be fruitful in our lives.
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it assisted you in your walk with God.
Here are some scriptures on prayer that I think you’ll enjoy:
God bless all of you!