Ruminating On God's Word In Prayer
Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. — Nehemiah 1:8-10
We are in the middle of looking at the four C.O.R.E. elements of Nehemiah's prayer.
- Connecting With God.
- Owning Our Sin.
- Recalling God’s Faithfulness.
- Entrusting Our Plans.
So far, we have looked at two components of Nehemiah's prayer. First, connecting with God and why recognizing God's sovereignty is essential. Second, Nehemiah's confession of both corporate and personal sins in his prayer. Today, we listen as he recalls God's covenant and promises.
Most casual readers will miss what Nehemiah is doing here. He is literally praying scripture. In verses 8-10, we have cross-sections of readings from three different texts in Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:25–31, Deut. 30:1–10, Deut. 9:29), which infers that Nehemiah was probably reading this book while praying over these four months.
Prayers are always accentuated when partnered with reading God's Word. Think about it: if we believe Scripture is the spoken Word that comes from the mind and mouth of God, then every word in this book should spiritually affect us in some way. As we read it, we recall God's faithfulness from past situations, through past believers, who communicated God's promises. When we read Scripture, we are listening to God. And when we pair listening to God (reading Scripture) with talking with God (prayer), we speak God's Word to God. Not that God needs to hear it. He already knows it. But that sometimes we need to speak it to really hear it. This is how we ruminate on it.
Rumination is an interesting process. Rumination is the process an animal, like a cow, processes food.
Imagine a cow for a moment. It is grazing in a field, plucking grass with its tongue, and barely chewing before swallowing. The chewed grass travels down into the first section of the cow's stomach, known as the rumen. The food is softened and mixed with saliva, beginning the breakdown process. But the key to rumination is what happens next.
After some time, the cow finds a quiet spot to rest. The cow then regurgitates small portions of the partially digested grass from the rumen back into its mouth. This regurgitated material, known as cud, is then chewed slowly and thoroughly. The cow chews the cud with a deliberate, methodical rhythm, grinding it down with its powerful molars, breaking down the tough plant fibers and making the nutrients more accessible. This process is slow and repetitive, but it's vital for extracting all the nutrients.
Once the cud is sufficiently broken down, it's swallowed again, but this time, it bypasses the rumen and goes into other sections of the stomach for further digestion and absorption. This cycle of eating, regurgitating, re-chewing, and re-digesting is a continuous and essential part of the animal's daily routine.
This is what Nehemiah is doing here. He is "ruminating on Scripture and recalling the promises of God." Initially, he may have only processed it superficially. But over time, as he chewed on it, he discovered more and more.
Rumination of Scripture in prayer involves bringing these words back to the forefront of our minds because we need to hear them repeatedly. Rumination is how they affect us more deeply. It's how they become absorbed into our hearts, minds, and souls. This process is slow, thoughtful, and deliberate, allowing the full richness and nourishment of the Scripture to be digested and integrated into our lives. Just as the cow extracts every bit of nutrient from its food, so too can we extract wisdom, guidance, and spiritual nourishment by ruminating on Scripture.
So, ruminate for a few minutes today on this Scripture. Read it slowly again. Take a few notes in your scripture journal. Make a note about a conviction God is prompting in you. And then go back to that prayer request from a few days ago and pray it again, but differently. And let's see if God doesn't do something as you ruminate on his living Word spoken by you to your soul.
In what ways can the practice of ruminating on Scripture, as Nehemiah did, transform our understanding and relationship with God? Share a personal experience where deeply reflecting on a specific passage of Scripture provided clarity, comfort, or guidance in your life.
Nehemiah combined reading Scripture with prayer in a way that deepened his connection with God. How can we incorporate this practice into our daily spiritual routines? Discuss practical steps we can take to ensure we are not just reading the Word, but truly digesting and living it out.
DO THIS: Ruminate for a few minutes today.
PRAY THIS: Father, teach me to ruminate on Your Word like Nehemiah, so that I may deeply absorb Your truth and promises, allowing them to transform my heart and guide my steps. Help me to blend prayer and Scripture in my daily life, that I might grow closer to You and live out Your will more fully. Amen.
PLAY THIS: Remember.
SIGN UP — THE DAILY DEVO
short + biblical + practical
Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.