A Prayer to Pray before Studying God’s Word
By Christina Patterson
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5
The Bible compares the Word of God to a double-edged sword showing its ability to cut the heart and change lives forever. (Hebrews 4:12) Whenever I pick up my Bible I feel the weight of this sword and its power. It makes me feel like a little girl holding a weapon too big to carry. Handling something so powerful is exciting yet intimidating at the same time.
So I never go into studying God’s Word lightly. We never should. The Word of God has the power to change minds, heal hearts, and cut out sin. However, something so powerful handled the wrong way can also cause harm. I never want to be the one using God’s Word to cause hurt, pain, or confusion. And I’m sure you don’t either.
For this reason, before I open my Bible and heart to the Word of God I first open my mouth in prayer to request specific things from God. And over years of studying my Bible God has faithfully answered this prayer. I want to share my prayer with you in hopes it will increase the quality of your time in God’s Word and help you to handle it’s truths with clarity and confidence.
I always start off praying for discernment and wisdom. James 1:5 tells us:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)
Coming across a scripture I do not understand can be discouraging. But I’ve found that unlocking the mysteries of scripture starts with prayer. All wisdom, knowledge, and correct understating come from God and He is ready to grant us understanding if we are willing to ask. This also ensures that I am receiving God’s understanding and intention about a scripture and that I am not relying on my own understanding.
“Lord, thank you for this time you’ve given me to open your Word and discover who you are. Thank you that you don’t leave us in the dark about who you are and what you are doing in the world, but that you have revealed yourself and your will through the Bible, your sacred words to us. Lord, I need wisdom as I read your Word. You promise us in James 1:5 that we only have to ask for wisdom to receive it. Lord, please give me your wisdom now as I approach your word. Help me discern the truth of this text. Help me not rely on my own understanding. Thank you God for the clarity, encouragement and hope your Word brings. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Editor’s Note: Portions of this devotional were taken from Christina Patterson’s article, 3 Prayers You Should Pray before Reading Your Bible. You can find that article in full here.
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.
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.
Loving heavenly Father we come to you this hour asking for your blessing and help as we are gathered together. We pray for guidance in the matters at hand and ask that you would clearly show us how to conduct our work with a spirit of joy and enthusiasm. Give us the desire to find ways to excel in our work. Help us to work together and encourage each other to excellence. We ask that we would challenge each other to reach higher and farther to be the best we can be. We ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
Heavenly Father as we come to the end of our time together we thank you for what has been accomplished here today. May the matters discussed serve as a catalyst to move us forward and cause us to advance and see growth in all areas of our lives. May we leave here recognizing You are the God of all wisdom and You are willing to lead us forward. This we pray in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen
Learn How to Pray: How to be Sure God listens to Your Prayer