The resources here at P.R.A.Y. The Bible are based on Martin Luther’s guide to prayer called “A Simple Way To Pray” popularized in the 70’s through Walter Trobisch’s popular booklet by Inter Varsity Press entitled “Martin Luther’s Quiet Time” that abbreviated and explained Luther’s letter on prayer for a new audience.
Luther’s practice is not without precedent. It mirrors the technique of scripture reading that existed from the early days of the church and propagated by St. Benedict in his monastic rule, called “lectio divina”. As a monk prior to his career as a Reformer, Luther’s practice emerged from his own interaction with scripture in the meditative way associated with lectio divina.
One modern proponent of the practice of lectio divina is Stephen J. Binz.
Though lectio divina can be done without “study guides”, many audiences are hesitant to read the Bible alone without some form of introduction or aid.
This site recognizes that concern and provides some assistance. Another modern resource for those seeking guides to the practice of lectio divina can be found here: Stephen J. Binz’s Lectio Divina Bible Readings
The Presbyterian and Reformed tradition’s best example of the practice at work might be Thomas Chalmer’s practice of writing down his meditations on scripture.
In addition to a sermon the Presbyterian “Directory of Worship” prescribed substantial readings of the Old and New Testament in consecutive order at every Sabbath’s Day’s worship service. These readings were to be preceded or followed by appropriate comments to illuminate the meaning of the text for the hearers.
Chalmer’s volumes are record of his faithfulness to this practice as a pastor, and they model “lectio divina” in a Presbyterian and Reformed context.
Two recent publications offer his meditations on every chapter of the New Testament and many from the Old Testament.
David Helm, founding pastor of Trinity Church in Chicago, has advocated for and produced resources that demonstrate how a strategy like P.R.A.Y. the Bible can be used in mentoring and evangelistic work in his book One-to-One Bible Reading.
His book discusses the concept of mentoring through shared Bible reading in general, how to interpret different types of literature in the Bible, suggested reading plans, and a method of observation, interpretation and application that parallels and would help inform users of the O.I.P.R.A.Y. strategy. He reminds us that the skills needed to feed oneself from God’s Word are not all that different from the skills required to mentor others by reading God’s Word with them in the process of “disciple making”. His book has the advantage of removing disciple making from being another “program” to a life process (as it should be!)
Whatever one’s Christian background, the practice of P.R.A.Y.ing through Scripture has a sound pedigree through the Western Church, and is without doubt a practice deeply associated with the Lutheran and Reformed communions of the Church as well as the historic church.