Opening prayer for bible study group

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.

opening prayer for bible study group

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. 

opening prayer for bible study group

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.

Let’s Pray:

“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.

This Bible Study looks at preparing for worship and that it is possible to “come to church” and still miss worship. And good preparation will likely be the key that makes the difference.

By: Howard Vanderwell, Norma de Waal Malefyt


During this set of Bible studies we aim to provide lessons that focus specifically on each of the actions within the worship service. With the Scriptural pattern as our starting point, we will explore each part of the liturgy. The lessons will include

1. Preparation for Worship
2. The Opening of Worship
3. The Service of Renewal in Grace
4. Congregational Song
5. The Reading of Scripture
6. Proclaiming the Word
7. The Prayers of the People
8. Affirmations and Professions
9. Responding in Praise and Thanks
10. The Service of Baptism
11. The Service of the Lord’s Supper
12. The Closing of Worship

It is our prayer that your Bible study group will be blessed by these studies and your worship will become richer. We welcome your suggestions and reactions. Please contact us though our profile link at top. 

Lesson 1                         See all lessons
Scripture: Psalm 15 and John 4:21-24

When you stop to think about it, worship is a rather challenging activity. We aim to engage in a dialog with a divine and invisible Being. We aim to meet with someone we are not able to see!

It is difficult, therefore, to overstate the importance of adequate preparation for good worship. We can only imagine the opportunities for good worship that never really happened because someone was unprepared. Missed opportunities are all too common. Yet, nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing that our thorough preparation has helped make worship a very rich time in fellowship with God.

When the Israelites ascended Mt. Zion on the way to worship, they did not go lightly. They knew they were on their way to a royal gathering, and they gave great care to this event. In Psalm 15 David talks about going to “your sanctuary” and “your holy hill.” What a sacred destination! No wonder he proceeds to cite the personal qualifications of those who may comfortably go there. His point is that no one may simply barge in on the royal Lord. It takes a prepared heart. You’ll find many of the same thoughts and convictions expressed in Psalm 24. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134), and note their cultivation of spirit as they approached worship.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4, the conversation turned to worship. Their concern was not only where the worshiping was done (on Mt. Gerizim or in Jerusalem), but also how and in what spirit it was done (in spirit and in truth) (John 4:24). The phrase “in spirit and in truth” carries several levels of meaning, but through all its meanings runs the thread that teaches us the preparation of our spirit is more important than external circumstances or the location of our worship. Because of who God is, how we worship matters! And, therefore, so does our careful preparation.

We can conclude, therefore, that it is possible to “come to church” and still miss worship. And good preparation will likely be the key that makes the difference.

Areas of Preparation

The second lesson will focus on The Gathering or Opening part of worship and its importance, but first there are a few areas prior to the service that deserve our attention.

1. Internal preparation of heart. Each worshiper carries responsibility for personal preparation of heart. If God calls us to worship him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), then we must ask questions about the state of our spirit. Read Psalm 15 again and listen to David in verses 2-5 speak about the integrity of heart and life that is necessary for those who come to the Lord’s house. Yet, how often do we ask ourselves questions about our readiness of heart to worship?

2. Pre-arrival preparation. We may want to call it “pre-Sabbath” preparation. We can learn from the Jews who believe Sabbath begins at sundown. Our activities on the evening before worship will have a formative affect, positively or negatively, on our readiness for worship Sunday morning. Also, our personal schedule between rising and the beginning of worship on Sunday morning will have a great deal of influence on our readiness of spirit. Have we raced, or was it done leisurely? How many of us consider that?

3. Pre-service preparation. The short period of time between our arrival at church and the beginning of the worship service is also a critical period of time. Our interaction with friends reminds us that we are here as part of a body in relationship with others. A short while to quiet our spirits will enable us to leave some distractions behind and center ourselves in God. A time of reflective prayer can open our spirit to engage in conversation with God. Even the visual appearance of the worship space will have an impact on our readiness. How conscious are we of these critical minutes?

Worship Leaders

Preparation on the part of those who are called to lead worship is so important it warrants special consideration. Those who stand between God and his people for this important worship conversation must be personally prepared for this role. Whether they are prepared or not will have a significant influence on others.

The heart-preparation of a worship leader is doubly important. The responsibility of worship leaders during the days preceding the worship service is not only to prepare the liturgy and its many parts adequately but also to take care for their own spirits. Times of prayer, reflection, and drawing close to God are necessary preparations for worship leadership.

We have spoken at length in our book (Designing Worship Together) about the work of planning worship together. Even after the worship service has been planned and printed, worship leaders have personal preparation to do.

Nearly all of this preparation among worship leaders will depend on good communication and healthy relationships together. Make sure that all leaders have had face-to-face conversations before the service begins. Are all clearly aware of the theme of this service, especially if some who will lead were not involved in planning the service? Is everyone aware of his or her role? Is it clear how transitions will be made? Are there any lingering questions? Can you identify any potential areas of distraction?

All who will participate in worship leadership should gather for a time of prayer together before the service begins. Let them not only prepare their own heart, but put their hearts together with the hearts of others.

Aids to Preparation

Perhaps your group could brainstorm and put together a list that will help in your preparation. We encourage you to share it with the congregation through your bulletin or newsletter. For starters we would point to these considerations:

1. Provide information about the theme of worship for next week. In the bulletin for this week, point to next week to create anticipation. Let the bulletin speak about the sermon theme and passage and special events in worship for next week. Some churches provide devotional guides for the week in anticipation of next week, particularly in special worship seasons.

2. Communicate with the members of the congregation during the week about pastoral needs and prayer requests that have arisen. Many churches use a prayer line or email to send out such information. Worshipers then can come on Sunday with a greater awareness of the life of the body.

3. Use your congregation’s website to provide information and reflections to encourage worshipers. Provide ideas and reflections about worship in general. In addition to information about the life of your congregation, post information about the sermon and passage for next Sunday’s worship, including perhaps ideas and questions to reflect on.

4. Take a look at your narthex or lobby space. Is it an inviting space for worshipers to gather? Is it sufficient in size? Is it welcoming? What tone does it set for worshiping together?

5. Encourage worshipers to arrive early enough to meet others, have time for personal reflection, and be ready to enter the worship space before the service begins. Stragglers who enter worship after it has begun can be distracting to others.

6. Provide gathering music that will set a worshipful atmosphere. Let the gathering music be a transition time from the busy world into the presence of God. An instrumental prelude can be an effective bridge into worship and singing.

Tips for Discussion Leaders

This lesson has two goals. First, we want to highlight the vital importance of paying attention to the preparation for worship. Preparation happens both by the worship leaders and by worshipers in the pew. Some of it happens during the brief period of time before worship begins; some of it happens earlier than that. Second, we also want this to be an opportunity for your group/committee to evaluate what could be improved to better assist your congregation in its preparation efforts.

Discussion Starters

1. Describe a “prepared worshiper.” Psalm 15 and John 4:24 should help you. What would you look for in such a person?

2. Assess the level of communication among those who are worship leaders? Are they in touch with each other as much as they ought to be? What could be improved?

3. What distracting habits do you spot among your worshiping community? Make a list of possible ways in which they can be addressed.

4. What intentional efforts are worth reinforcing and encouraging because they are a positive influence in your congregation’s readiness for worship each week?

Further Reading

“Worship as Listening and Responding”
“Worship as Covenant Renewal”

Chapter 5, “Keeping This Sabbath,” Receiving the Day, Dorothy Bass (Jossey-Bass, 2000), pp. 63-77.

Lesson 2
See all lessons

Published: October 19, 2010 Resource Type: Article Category: Worship- Meaning of Task: Lead Worship, Daily Reflection, Prepare for Worship Tags: bible studies, john, psalms, worship planning


When I talk to Bible study leaders, one concern arises time and again: How do we balance in-depth Bible study with prayer time? What are some practical ways we can encourage serious Bible study while simultaneously building community through prayer with each other? Acts 2:42 describes the early church’s commitment to Scripture, prayer, and fellowship. How can our groups model this approach without spending all our time on one or the other?

Over the years I’ve participated in a variety of groups, some small and some large. Obviously, the size of the group affects the leader’s ability to foster intimacy among its members (most of the advice that follows works fairly well for small groups between 5 and 30 members).

Here are three practices I’ve found to be quite helpful.

1. Keep Prayer Lists

One easy way to keep up with each other is to pass around a prayer list at the beginning of each Bible study. Writing out prayer requests affords women the opportunity to share without pressuring them to share. It also limits the length of time spent on prayer requests since people tend to be more concise in writing (e.g., they leave out the story behind the story).

At the end of the lesson, we ask one person to type up the requests and e-mail them to the other group members. We encourage each woman on the list to pray for the woman just before and after her name, taking time to check in mid-week on any specific updates. This simple system cultivates prayerful fellowship and care among all members of the group, not just dependency on one leader to do all the “checking in.” It also focuses the majority of our weekly time together on studying the Scriptures in-depth.

2. Incorporate Prayer Sessions

We also dedicate certain Bible study sessions entirely to prayer. Every five or six weeks, we suspend our normal study and devote the whole time to fellowshiping in prayer. As our group has grown we’ve divided into smaller groups of five or six to enable adequate time for sharing requests and praying together.

And we always open our prayer time with an encouragement to “Three B’s” of sharing: Be brief, be biblical, and be beneficial.

Be Brief

Proverbs 10:19 wisely tells us: “When words are many, sin is not absent.” But sometimes it’s not the just the content of our words, but the time we take to share, that can be a problem. Since we want each woman to have equal opportunity to share, we encourage brevity.

Be Biblical

The psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). We ask the women to share freely but to avoid gossip or negative talk about others. You can share your needs without delving into others’ sins. We also ask the women to consider and to share during our prayer time how our study of Scripture has challenged them in new ways. It is such a joy to lean on the language of the passages we’re studying week after week in order to offer Word-filled prayer. Praying the Scriptures is one way God kneads its beauty and truthfulness into our hearts.

Be Beneficial

Before each prayer study we ask the women to consider one question: Is what I’m about to share profitable for others to hear? Does it resonate with the truth of Ephesians 4:29?

Our hope in providing the Three B’s isn’t to stifle or micromanage our prayer time but to keep it from becoming a runaway train that could go a thousand different directions. The guidelines enable our time to be a blessing for us all. We enjoy sweet fellowship. We laugh, we cry, and we pray.

3. Deploy Prayer Leaders

When a Bible study grows, it’s difficult for one teacher to attend to the diverse needs of everyone in the group. Each woman in your midst is struggling in various ways. Some are vocal, while others wait to be asked. The responsibility of teaching alongside spiritual care is difficult for most leaders to balance as groups increase in size.

To help shoulder the burden of care, then, we’ve sought spiritually mature women to serve as prayer leaders. We divided the Bible study into groups of five women for each prayer leader. This leader checks in regularly with the women in her smaller group, follows up on prayer requests, and gets in touch with anyone we haven’t seen for a while. On those days every few weeks when we have a prayer meeting instead of a Bible study, we divide into these set groups to foster intimacy in the midst of the larger group.

Modeling Acts 2:42

Using a simple means of gathering requests, incorporating group prayer, and deploying leaders to shepherd women has helped foster Bible studies that integrate prayerful fellowship with substantive teaching of the Word.

By God’s grace, we hope to model the fellowship displayed in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

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