Lord, inspire me to read your Scriptures and to meditate upon them day and night. I beg you to give me real understanding of what I read, that I in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet, I know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in your graceful love. So I ask that the words of Scripture may also be not just signs on a page, but channels of grace into my heart. Amen. (Origen, 184-253 AD)
—Bookmark used by Holy Name of Jesus Bible Study in Minnesota
Indulgence that was granted by Pope Leo XIII in 1898 to all the faithful who “shall read for at least a quarter of an hour the books of the Sacred Scripture with the veneration due to the Divine Word and as spiritual reading, an indulgence of 300 days.” (Preces et Pia opera, 645.)
Bible Study Prayers
This lesson is part of Mel Lawrenz’ “How to Study the Bible” series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
Mel Lawrenz is away this week. “How to Study the Bible” resumes next week.
Below are two prayers that may be helpful in your pattern of reading and studying Scripture. And here is a sermon Mel Lawrenz gave a few days ago about how to make prayer a practical pattern in real life…
Real Prayer from Elmbrook Church on Vimeo.
A Prayer Before Reading Scripture
Open my eyes, gracious Lord, as I turn to your word.
I long to know you, to understand life, and to be changed.
Examine me, Lord, by the floodlight of your truth.
A Prayer After Reading Scripture
May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart.
Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it
and so built my life on the rock of your truth.
(Both prayers are taken from the 95 prayers in Prayers for Our Lives.)
Mel Lawrenz trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, the latest, How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.
Before starting your daily readings, begin with prayer. Otherwise, we are treating the Bible as if it was only a human document. The God who gave us Sacred Scripture must open our understanding to comprehend it, and our wills to believe it — and to obey it.
I like the prayer of St. John Chrysostom:
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart that I may hear your word,
and understand and do your will, for I am a sojourner upon the Earth.
Hide not your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of your Law.
Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of your wisdon.
On you do I set my hope, O my God, that you shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of your knowledge; not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them;
That in reading the lives and sayings of the Saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting.
For you are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from you comes every good deed and every gift. Amen.
Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.