Bible study prayers

prayers for study groups

We’ve found the following suggestions helpful for leading prayers for study groups. Does your Bible study have a special prayer tradition or use an opening or closing prayer that you especially like? Let us know if you’d like to share it here with other Catholic study groups.

Turning to God’s Word takes advantage of a number of avenues to provide high-quality Bible study materials to individuals and parish groups. Our free online resources include a daily Scripture reflection and inspirational quote about Scripture on our home page, how to start individual or group Bible study, online study directories with access to videos and other resources, and our weekly e-column, Lost in Translation. Our printed full-length Catholic Bible studies can be purchased from our website shop, and we also offer occasional short seasonal Bible studies free online, as well as other helpful Bible study resources.

how to compose prayers based on Scripture

Here are four simple steps to aid in composing a prayer related to a section of the Bible that you’ve been reading and about which you’ve been meditating. The process may be used for group or private prayer based on biblical reflection:

1. Address God by one of his many titles, preferably one that relates to the Scripture passage you’ve been studying.
2. Tell God something about himself related to the Scripture passage.
3. Present a personal petition related to your meditation of the same Scripture passage.
4. Close your prayer through Jesus Christ.

Here’s a sample prayer based on the seventh chapter of the Gospel According to John.

Heavenly Father and all-seeing God,

you sent your Son as a light to shine in our darkness. Help us to listen to what Jesus is saying to us, and to act on your Word so that rivers of living waters might flow from our hearts. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

opening prayer suggestions

Lord Jesus, You promised to send your Holy Spirit to teach us all things.

As we read and study your word today, allow it truly to touch our hearts and to change our lives. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Heavenly Father, send forth your Spirit to enlighten our minds

and dispose our hearts to accept your truth. Help us to listen to one another with openness and honesty, eager to learn from the talents and intuitions that you have given each of us. Never let differences of opinion diminish our mutual esteem and love. May we leave this meeting with more knowledge and love for you and your Son. In the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

intercessory prayer

Participants in the Bible study place their written prayer intentions in a prayer box. Paper and pens are kept by the box. Before closing, the group says the following prayer, and afterward one member takes the prayers and puts them by the altar in the chapel with other prayers that people attending daily Mass pray over each morning.

Lord, we ask that you hear the prayers unspoken in our hearts

and those written and placed in our prayer box. We pray especially for peace and reconciliation in the hearts of those in conflict . . . Lord, hear our prayer. For healing and strength for those who are in need of your mercy . . . Lord, hear our prayer. For the repose of the souls of our loved ones . . . Lord, hear our prayer. For courage and guidance . . . Lord, hear our prayer. Surround our family and friends with your love and help them to grow closer to you. . . . Lord, hear our prayer. And for all those who have no one to prayer for them . . . Lord, hear our prayer. We thank you for answered prayers and for graces received. Fill us with your presence and help us to be faithful bearers of your light. We ask this through the compassion of Jesus your Son, our Lord and Teacher. Amen.

Reading the Bible before praying is like putting the cart before the horse.

The proverbial horse is the Holy Spirit of God, who empowers and enlightens our Bible reading as we mine the depths of his Word. The proverbial cart makes up our willing eyes and hungry hearts, the Spirit-led choice to crack open our Bibles and pursue his everlasting truth.

Our Bible reading depends wholly on God’s grace. This is why we pray.

The cart must be pulled by the horse; our efforts to read must be motivated and helped by God’s grace and power. Christians come to God’s Word willing and hungry because he first made us willing and hungry to receive—but only he can enable us to receive. This is why we ask for help before we start reading.

Why Pray?

I know this is true. I know I need to pray before I meet with God through his Word. Yet—

SEE ALSO: 5 People in the Bible Who Gave Thanks with All Their Heart

Time limits. I only have 15 minutes. I need to get reading…

Distractions abound. Is that where I left off yesterday? I can’t even remember what I read yesterday…Oh man, I forgot to drop off the dry cleaning yesterday…

Or I just plain forget.

Praise God, grace abounds for our limitations, distractions, and forgetfulness! We can even ask for his help to remember to draw near to him in dependent prayer, even if it’s a five-second plea because that’s all the time we have. It’s not the prayer, itself, that matters, but our dependence on God. Opening our Bibles comes with the conviction that we draw near to God only because of Jesus and through him. So, before we read, we commit to asking for God’s help to receive his Word with faith.

SEE ALSO: How to Read the Bible Every Day

22 Prayers for Your Bible Reading

But what exactly do we pray for? Like me, have you struggled to know what this plea for help looks like?

Psalm 119 guides us. This list of 22 prayers from each stanza of the psalm will keep us mindful of our need and God’s provision, will focus us and help us set aside distractions, and will remind us that only Jesus opens the new and living way to God, making our hunger real and our reading possible.

Pray one or more of these 22 prayers before you receive from God’s Word today:

  1. Pray for wholehearted seeking: Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways (vv. 2-3)!
  2. Pray for protection from sin: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (v. 11).
  3. Pray for opened eyes: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (v. 18).
  4. Pray for spiritual strength:  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word (v. 28)!
  5. Pray for delight and longing: Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!…Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life (vv. 36, 40)!
  6. Pray to fight lies: Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word (vv. 41-42).
  7. Pray to live with trust in God’s promises: This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (v. 50).
  8. Pray for quick obedience: I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments (v. 60).
  9. Pray for good judgment and knowledge: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments (v. 66).
  10. Pray for God’s comfort: Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant (v. 76).
  11. Pray for endurance against the enemy: All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me (v. 86)!
  12. Pray to depend on God’s enduring Word: Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens….I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts (vv. 89-94).
  13. Pray for continual meditation: Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (v. 97).
  14. Pray for God’s light to guide you: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (v. 105).
  15. Pray for fear of the Lord: My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments (v. 120).
  16. Pray for trust in the Lord’s justice: I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies! It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken (vv. 125-6).
  17. Pray for victory over sin: Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me (v. 133).
  18. Pray for joy in trouble: Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight (v. 143).
  19. Pray for God to hear you: Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life (v. 149).
  20. Pray for mercy: Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules (v. 156).
  21. Pray to abhor falsehood: I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law (v. 163).
  22. Pray for a soul of praise: Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me (v. 175).

Dependent Bible Reading

The cart may be ready, but apart from the horse’s strength, it goes nowhere. May we bring our eagerness and hunger for Bible reading to God in prayer, trusting him to strengthen us for every gift we will receive when we open our Bibles, and depending on him to change us in the process.

SEE ALSO: How the Bible is Relevant to Every Tribe, Tongue and Nation

This article originally appeared on Used with permission.

Kristen Wetherell is a writer, Bible teacher, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband, Brad, are members of The Orchard in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Connect with Kristen at her website.

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Publication date: November 29, 2016


January, February, March 2001

Want to learn more about Prayer? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: The Model Pray-er and the Model Prayer: Christ (Luke 11, Matthew 6)
I just finished reading the book “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala (Zondervan, 1997). It is a terrific book about prayer. The thesis of the book is that if you want a church to grow you need to cultivate the prayer life of the members. My timing for reading the Cymbala book was perfect because this quarter we begin a study on prayer. I need to improve my prayer life. If you need to improve your prayer life, let’s jump into our new study!

Lesson 2: Prayers of Despair: Job (Job 1, 6, 9, 13, 38, 40)
A first grader in my wife’s class was discouraged because his little life was not going well. He confided in my wife, “I don’t know why this is happening to me, I pay my tithe!” Does this little guy express your feelings sometimes? Something bad is happening in your life and you cannot understand why God is allowing it to happen? Do you pray and it seems that God is not answering or not giving the answer you deserve? One of the most encouraging stories in the Bible is the story of Job. Let’s jump in and see what we can learn about his prayers in times of great discouragement!

Lesson 3: A Prayer of Supplication: Moses (Psalm 90)
Moses did so much for the Israelites. Do you think he taught them to pray? I’ll bet he did. Our study this week is a unique opportunity to study a prayer that is attributed by most scholars to Moses. The NIV, along with many translations, begins Psalms 90 with the script: “A prayer of Moses the man of God.” Let’s dive into our study of this important prayer of Moses!

Lesson 4: Prayers of Triumph: Hannah and Mary (1 Samuel 1 & 2)
So far this quarter we have explored the prayers of Jesus, Moses and Job. Are there any women in the Bible whose experience can teach us about prayer? This week the title of our lesson turns our attention to two of the most blessed mothers in the Bible. Because of the amount of material involved, we are only going to be able to cover Hannah in this study. Let’s jump in and see what can we learn from this saint!

Lesson 5: Prayers of Penitence: David (2 Samuel 11 & 12, Psalms 51)
Do you fear that your prayers are not heard by God because of some past sin? Does sin cause you to think you cannot approach a Holy God? This week we look not only at the prayer of King David after he committed some of the worst sins, we gain an insight into avoiding those kinds of sins. Let’s jump into our study!

Lesson 6: A Prayer for God’s Dwelling: Solomon (2 Chronicles 6)
Is the God who created the universe interested in us? Is He willing to personally interact with us in our worship? This week we study the prayer King Solomon offered at the dedication of the temple. It is a prayer that teaches us more about the relationship we could have with God. Let’s jump into our study!

Lesson 7: Prayers for Reformation: Elijah (1 Kings 16-18)
At work do you sometimes feel you are the only one, or just one of a few, who serve God? Do you feel that God has placed a burden on you to reveal His greatness? Our study this week is about how God partnered with Elijah to reveal God’s power and greatness. This partnership involved prayer. Let’s jump in!

Lesson 8: Prayers of Desperation: Hezekiah (Isaiah 36-38)
A preacher told the story about a man who wanted to be sure he ended it all. Carrying a rope and a gun the man crawled out on a branch over a deep river. He tied one end of the rope around the branch and the other around his neck. At the instant he jumped off the branch, he planned to shoot himself in the head. He figured that if the bullet didn’t work, the rope would. If the rope broke, he would drown. Sort of a triple back-up system.

Our study this week is about the prayers of Hezekiah. Hezekiah did not want to kill himself – he desperately wanted to live. But he could sympathize with the man on the branch. We will discover that Hezekiah faced a triple threat. Not only was he faced with losing his life work as king, he was in danger of getting himself and a lot of other people killed by enemy soldiers. Then he found out that if the soldiers didn’t get him, he would die of a terrible disease. Let’s jump into our study!

Lesson 9: The Prayer of Intercession: Daniel (Daniel 9)
This week we turn our attention to a prayer of Daniel – a hero of the Old Testament. If your life was severely disrupted when you were a child, you can sympathize with Daniel. His young life turned lousy when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians and dragged away from his homeland. Although he was a captive, through his faithfulness to God, he rose to become the highest-level government official. Daniel had such a great reputation that he remained in power even when his captors were defeated and the government changed.

Lesson 10: Prayer: Listening to Jesus (John 14)
Is prayer just a one-way communication? We talk and then we talk some more? If you say, “No,” prayer is both speaking to God and listening for His answer, then you will want to jump into this lesson with us. Last week, we discussed how Daniel prayed to God to be able to go home. This week our study is John 14 where we find Jesus answering the “how to go home” prayers of His disciples before they even feel the need. These words are part of God’s message to His disciples in all ages when we face confusing and trying situations.

Lesson 11: The High Priestly Prayer: Jesus (John 17)
Do you wish you had someone to watch over you? Someone who really cared about your problems and your future? Do you show this kind of care and love for others? This week we see God’s unselfish compassion for us as we continue our study of Jesus’ last hours on earth. Last week we studied Jesus’ words of comfort to His disciples before He was taken from them. This week we look at His prayer for His disciples. Let’s dive in!

Lesson 12: Prayers for the Church: Paul (Ephesians 1)
How is your local church? Does it need help? Do you feel the problems are too big for you to handle? This week our study is the first chapter of Ephesians. Paul, while under house arrest in Rome, writes a letter of encouragement to the church in Ephesus. Although the letter is not a prayer, it reveals the nature of Paul’s prayers for this church and the type of prayer and attitude we can have towards our local congregation. Let’s jump into our study!

Lesson 13: Prayers of Praise: Revelation (Revelation 4 & 5)
Do you remember what we discovered about the beginning of all the famous prayers we have studied so far this quarter? They started out with praise to God! In our last study of this quarter, we look more closely at this idea of praise in prayer. Let’s dive in!

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