Amy Boucher Pye’s spiritual journey has included mountaintop highs and darks nights of the soul. Yet in the day-to-day moments she has experienced God break in with surprising grace. She can’t help but write about these nudges of grace in every day life. When not writing from her chilly vicarage in North London, she is leading book clubs and retreats. Which is why she is the perfect guide to walk us through a time-tested practice for encountering God. It’s a grace to welcome Amy to the farm’s front porch today…
Rejected, a thirteen-year-old sobbed into her sleeping bag at summer camp.
The start of a teen romantic comedy? Perhaps, but that episode marked the first time I sensed God’s voice through His Word.
When we arrived at the camp, we were bowled over by the ratio of boys to girls—just us four girls to twenty guys. We scoped out the guys and giggled over which was the cutest while we canoed in the crystal-clear lakes, cooked over a campfire, swatted mosquitoes, and sang worship songs under the stars.
In the guy department, I kept hoping I’d be chosen, but while each of my three friends paired off, I remained alone. On the last night, I looked from one friend to the next, each of whom was holding hands or standing arm in arm with their guys around the campfire.
Then one of the nonattached guys sneered at me. He pointed to an overweight boy and then to me (I was not thin) and said, “Oh, why don’t you two get together?”
Mortified, I ran back to my tent, scurried into my sleeping bag, and released my sobs, feeling undesirable and worthless. Our camp counselor came and tried to comfort me, but I pretended to be asleep. A few minutes later, she left.
When at last the week was over and I was back at home, I tried to forget my feelings of rejection. I put on a brave face and pushed my hurt into a corner, not wanting to share it with my parents or friends. Or with God.
But to my surprise I received a letter from my camp counselor, who said how concerned she had been for me.
The verses she quoted from Philippians pierced through my hardened exterior:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with you…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so you you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the days of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:3-4, 6, 9-11
I ran down to my room, found my Bible, and looked for Philippians, reading the whole passage more than once. For the first time I felt as if God was speaking to me through the Scriptures. The words sailed off the page and landed in my heart, penetrating the places of hurt and rejection. I started to believe that the Lord had started a good work in me and that He wouldn’t leave me. That I’d grow in wisdom and insights and would bear fruit.
With the pages blurry through my tears, I pondered the promises in Paul’s letter and began to make them my own.
That camp counselor was a conduit of God’s grace, pointing me to His words of transforming love. I had begun the exhilarating journey of meeting God as I prayed and read His Word.
“When we pray with the Bible, God infuses the experience with His Spirit.”
God always makes Himself known to us, and a primary way He reveals Himself is through His Word. When we pray with the Bible, God infuses the experience with His Spirit.
As with my memorable encounter after camp, God comforts us through what we read. Sometimes He corrects us or convicts us; often He teaches us as He imparts His wisdom.
The Bible’s story of God and His people is one of intimacy and communication. The unreachable, unknowable God reaches down and makes Himself known.
God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has also given us the Bible, limiting His words to a level we can understand. Our Creator meets us with grace and love in a form we can grasp. Jesus the Word fills the pages of Scripture with His acts of grace and redemption.
And just as the Holy Spirit breathed the Scripture itself into life, so the Spirit breathes life into us as we read it.
As we pray with the Bible, we welcome God’s Word to come and live in us. God can comfort us when we’re hurting as we read a line of the Psalms; He can convict us with His teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.
As you read the Scriptures, pause before you delve into them and ask God to speak to you. He loves to respond when we seek Him.
“Just as the Holy Spirit breathed the Scripture itself into life, so the Spirit breathes life into us as we read it.”
There are several ways to pray with the Bible and different practices will resonate stronger in a particular season of your life. Personalizing Scripture is a practice I have found helpful when I don’t want to feel overwhelmed but need to penetrate to the tender places within.
I begin writing out some of what Jesus said in the gospel stories, adding my name again and again so that the words would move from my head to my heart:
“Amy, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will open,” Matthew 7:7 (adapted).
Or, “When you exalt yourself, Amy, you will be humbled, but when you humble yourself, you will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12, (adapted).
Or, “Amy, my peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Amy, do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid,” John 14:27, (adapted).
Seeing my name in these familiar words helped me realize that God could intend them for me.
“As we pray God’s words to us in the Bible, we find Jesus the Word meeting us and the Holy Spirit guiding, comforting, and convicting us.”
I recommend this simple practice, which can have profound results.
Wonder where to start? Here are some suggestions, and yes, a few of them cut to the heart:
Matthew 6:25-34 (Don’t worry)
Mark 13:32-37 (Keeping watch)
Luke 6:20-26 (Blessings and woes)
John 17:20-26 (Jesus’ prayer for us)
As we pray God’s words to us in the Bible, we find Jesus the Word meeting us and the Holy Spirit guiding, comforting, and convicting us.
Praying with the Bible provides a foundation for our lives as we follow God, receiving and extending His love.
Amy Boucher Pye is an author, speaker, and retreat leader. She’s the author of the award-winning book Finding Myself in Britain and The Living Cross. She runs the Woman Alive book club and writes for publications such as Our Daily Bread and Day by Day with God.
Prayer is a gift from God; praying is a practice. In 7 Ways to Pray Amy Boucher Pye guides you through time-tested practices for encountering God. Each chapter shares real-life examples, is rooted in the Bible, and includes prayer exercises for individuals or groups. Amy is a storyteller that brings these proven practices to life so you can make them actionable. 7 Ways to Pray is an essential resource for your prayer life, small group, retreat, or ministry.
[ Our humble thanks to NavPress for their partnership with today’s devotion ]