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
Prayer Before Scripture Study 24. February, 2014News No comments
Merciful father, you have given your church the Holy Bible. As we receive it, hear it, read it and learn to live by it, may we discover in your word the fountain of life.
Grant us comfort, challenge and strength in the study of its stories, its poetry, its wisdom and itscommandments. May they inspire us to dedicated service to one another.
Teach us to cherish the hope of everlasting life that you give us in your living Word, our Savior Jesus Christ, who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen back to Homepage
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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 the first generation of mankind had passed away, men began to call upon the name of the Lord (Gen. 4:26; Moses 5:4). Prayers, whether with (Gen. 12:8; 13:4) or without (Gen. 20:7; 32:9–11) sacrifice, were constantly offered by the patriarchs to God. The efficacy of the intercession of good men was recognized (Gen. 18:23; 20:7; Ex. 32:11).
Prayer is nowhere specifically commanded as a duty in the law, and prayers were not prescribed at the sacrifices except on two occasions: a confession of sin on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:21) and a thanksgiving when offering the firstfruits and tithes (Deut. 26:3, 13). It is, however, certain from the nature of things, and from the custom in later times, that prayer accompanied sacrifice.
Even in the times of the Judges, the children of Israel did not forget to cry unto the Lord, and a model of prayer is furnished by Hannah (1 Sam. 2:1). Samuel was recognized by his nation to be characteristically a man of prayer (1 Sam. 7:5, 8; 12:19, 23; Ps. 99:6). David’s Psalms, and the Psalms generally, breathe the highest spirit of prayer. The nation that possessed them must have been rich in teachers and examples of prayer. Remarkable prayers were prayed by Solomon (1 Kgs. 8); Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 19:14, etc.; Isa. 38:9, etc.); Ezra (Ezra 9:5); the Levites (Neh. 9:5, etc.); and Daniel (Dan. 9:3, etc.). “Making many prayers” was a part of the corrupt religion of Israel under the later kings (Isa. 1:15) and a marked feature of the religion of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:5; 23:14).
It was the custom to pray three times a day, as did David (Ps. 55:17), Daniel (Dan. 6:10), and the later Jews. Prayer was said before meat (1 Sam. 9:13; Matt. 15:36; Acts 27:35).
The attitude of prayer ordinarily was standing (1 Sam. 1:26; Neh. 9:2, 4; Matt. 6:5; Luke 18:11, 13); also kneeling (1 Kgs. 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Dan. 6:10); or prostrate (Josh. 7:6; Neh. 8:6). The hands were spread forth to heaven (1 Kgs. 8:22; Ezra 9:5; Ps. 141:2; Isa. 1:15). Smiting on the breast and rending of the garments signified special sorrow (Ezra 9:5; Luke 18:13). The Lord’s attitude in prayer is recorded only once. In the Garden of Gethsemane He knelt (Luke 22:41), fell on His face (Matt. 26:39), and fell on the ground (Mark 14:35). It is noteworthy that Stephen (Acts 7:60), Peter (9:40), Paul (20:36; 21:5), and the Christians generally (21:5) knelt to pray.
Prayers were said at the Sanctuary (1 Sam. 1:9–12; 1 Kgs. 8; Ps. 42:2, 4) or looking toward the Sanctuary (1 Kgs. 8:44, 48; Ps. 5:7; Dan. 6:10); on the housetop or in an upper chamber (Dan. 6:10; Acts 10:9). The Pharisees prayed publicly in the synagogues and at the corners of the streets (Matt. 6:5). The Lord prayed upon the tops of mountains (Matt. 14:23; Luke 9:28) or in solitary places (Mark 1:35).
As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
There are many passages in the New Testament that teach the duty of prayer (Matt. 7:7; 26:41; Luke 18:1; 21:36; Eph. 6:18; Philip. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thes. 5:17, 25; 1 Tim. 2:1, 8). Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when His words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent His mind but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.
Book of Mormon references on prayer include 1 Ne. 18:3; Alma 34:17–28; Ether 2:14.