If we want to be people of prayer, we must be people of the Word. If we want to be people of the Word we must be people of prayer. We see this exemplified in the life of George Mueller. Mueller's prayer life helped him in his study the Word, and his study of the Word helped him in his prayer life.
He often emphasized the importance of reading the Scripture prayerfully. When he sat down to study the Bible, he refused to do so without seeking God's help. He continually came to God as he was studying, asking God to teach him what the passage meant. He was concerned that people often looked to other humans for help understanding the Scripture before they went to God for help. He often warned against becoming too devoted to Christian books and commentators instead of being devoted to the Scripture and crying out to the Holy Spirit for wisdom. (Brooks. p.117)
To Mueller prayerful reading of Scripture was essential for effective times of prayer. He believed that studying God's Word should result in praying to the God of the Word. During the last twenty years of his life, Mueller read the entire Bible approximately four to five times every year. By the end of his life, he had read the entire Bible almost two hundred times. Because he read the Scriptures prayerfully he could pray scripturally. He prayed Bible. James Mudge writes that, "No secret lies nearer to the root of Mueller's success than this devout meditation and continual refection upon Scripture." (Mudge, p119)
He began to practice this principle early in his Christian life. Before he prayed in the morning he would meditate upon a portion of Scripture. As he would meditate upon Scripture, his soul was drawn to prayer. He would then begin to pray Scripturally. He writes, "...after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned out almost immediately more or less into prayer." (Steer,p.109)
He emphasized the importance of the Word of God in prayer for several reasons.
First, praying Scripturally helps the believer develop a proper understanding of who God is and this will strengthen his faith. As the Christian reads of God's mercy and God's power and sees the wondrous workings of God in the past, he will grow in his faith and thus have greater confidence in the God to whom he prays. (Brooks, p33,34)
Second, praying Scripturally produces courage during difficult times. When trials come and our circumstances seem difficult we must rest in the promises of God. Mueller writes, "Further, when sometimes all has been dark, exceedingly dark, with reference to my service among the saints, judging from natural appearances; yea, when I should have been overwhelmed indeed in grief and despair, had I looked at these thingsafter outward appearance; at such times I have sought to encourage myself in God by laying hold in faith of His mighty power, His unchangeable love, and His infinite wisdom...for it is written 'He that spared His one son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?' Rom.8:32
Thirdly, praying Scripturally informs the believer's prayers. Mueller emphasized the importance of not praying according to our own will but according to God's will. He would often evaluate his prayer requests in light of Scripture in order to make sure that what he was asking was according to God's will. How can we know God's will so we can pray it? We learn God's will through the study of God's Word.