In his book Praying the Scriptures Demetrius Dumm gives primacy of God’s deeds over words said by God or about God. He encourages the reader to focus on the great acts, particularly the Exodus in the Old Testament and the resurrection in the New Testament. In this way the books of the Old Testament find their full meaning in the Exodus. In this way, “every act and word of Jesus in his ministry finds its full meaning only in his death and resurrection.” In this way, the reader will experience God’s deed, enter into God’s action with an experience deeper than only the words would provide.
I spent a week trying this approach of focusing on the action, entering into the experience as Jesus experienced it. while not overlooking words as being less important. I found that I was more focused. I prayed, for example, Luke’s account of the Agony in the Garden. Imagining what Jesus was experiencing in the Garden of Gethsemane added depth to the words “Not my will, but yours be done.” These words were uttered by Jesus who felt rejection by his Heavenly Father, abandonment by his apostles—even his favorite three—and the lowest depths that a human being could ever experience. And yet Jesus could say “Not my will, but yours be done” to the Father who could have let his Son experience hope and mercy in his agony. Focusing on the experience of agony gave depth to what I would have prayed if only looking at the words.