Marking up your Bible with a pen and highlighter as you read can actually add a new dimension to your prayer life.
About 15 years ago, I thought I was totally spent as a writer. I’d been through a three-year process of revision on one book that had left me doubting my ability and drained of all enthusiasm for writing.
So I prayed. I do that when I get desperate…and there’s nothing good on TV.
God sent me manna from heaven in the form of an assignment to work on a project called The Prayer Bible. For a couple of months, I spent my workdays praying through the second half of the Old Testament, verse by verse, a process that not only revived me, and stoked my prayer life—I believe it saved my writing ministry.
Since then, I've been blessed to learn many different ways of praying—and one of those is praying with a Bible and pen. I’ve done it a few different ways in a few different Bibles, but I’ll share one approach, knowing that you can adapt the details to fit your needs.
I also realize that not everyone feels comfortable writing in a Bible. Some, out of respect for God’s Word, have an attitude like my mother who (probably as a result of her own upbringing) didn’t even like us to put any other book on top of a Bible—not even a Bible study guide. I can’t argue with such reverent attitudes.
However, if you’re inclined to try praying with Bible and pen, I advise the careful selection of a ballpoint or other pen and highlighters that won't bleed through the page. Test the pens first on paper that’s similar to that used in your Bible.
Once you’ve selected your pen or highlighters, here are a few ideas that will help to make your Bible reading an enjoyable and meaningful prayerful exercise:
1) Underline phrases or verses that you pray for yourself.
2) Add an underline when you pray it more than once.
3) Use a different color highlighter (or shape) for each person you pray that phrase or verse for (red=Adam, blue=Patty, etc., or circle for Adam and square for Patty).
4) Alternatively, write the name of the person you pray the words for in the margin or between lines.
5) Use a few key words to turn a phrase or verse into a prayer, such as "Yes!," "Please" and "Amen."
6) Write a date in the margin or between lines to indicate when a prayer was answered.
7) Use a symbol such as † to create a footnote at a passage and add a corresponding figure in the top or bottom margin where you write the prayer of your heart based on that passage.
These are just a few ideas, of course, but they’re offered as a starting point that anyone can use to create and develop a personal method for combining Bible reading with prayer. Why not try it?