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
More Specific Prayers
Learn How to Pray: How to be Sure God listens to Your Prayer
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.
Undoubtedly the most difficult people to pray for are those that persecute us. Praying for the lovely people is just much easier. Even so, we are called to pray for everyone.
When you read through the Book of Psalms you see that David continually prayed for those who persecuted him. In some cases he asked that their hearts would be softened and in others he asked that the Lord pronounce judgment upon them (e.g. Psalms 109). What does the Bible teach about persecution? What should our attitude be? How should we pray for the persecutors?
Jesus Spoke of Persecution and the Persecuted
During the Earthly ministry of Jesus, He often spoke of what was to come when He left to be with the Father. He warned the Apostles and His many disciples that life would no longer be easy for them that chose to follow Him. He said that people would hate them because of Him. During His famous Sermon on the Mount He even reminded them that the prophets before them were persecuted for righteousness sake.
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Later in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus went into a little more detail regarding the reality of the persecution to come and He told them how they should respond. You can read about that in Matthew 5:35-48.
Continuing on in the book of Matthew Jesus tells the Apostles once again that He is sending them out into a world which will hate them. He warns them that leaders will judge them. Then He encourages them with the promise that the Spirit of the Father will be with them and will speak for them.
Matthew 10:19-20 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Take up your cross
Constant reminders to His disciples are recorded throughout the gospel accounts as well as the Book of Acts. For example, Jesus uses the metaphor that whoever follows Him will need to “take up his cross”. He even goes a little deeper to say that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35) I like how Luke puts it a little differently:
Luke 14: 25-33 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
So the disciples of Jesus’ day were forewarned of the cost to be a disciple. As Christians today we are privileged to have something that they did not have – the completed Word of God. As we study daily in the Word we should be learning the things that Jesus taught as well as all of the other men in the Bible as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Many of these holy men of God endured great persecution on a daily basis. These things have been written for our learning.
How to Respond to Persecution
Sometimes we can relate to those who have gone before us as a testimony of faith and endurance. We can also learn from their teaching and admonishment as to how we should respond to persecution. Not long ago my husband preached on this exact subject. You can listen to his message here: Persecution. Regarding persecution, the Bible says we should:
Put our trust in the LORD and be not ashamed (Psalms 31:1)
Follow His lead (Psalms 31:3)
Commit our spirit into His hand (Psalms 31:5)
Be glad and rejoice (Psalms 31:7)
Be of good courage (Psalms 31:24)
Turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
Go the extra mile (Matthew 5:41)
Love your enemies, bless them, do good to them and pray for them (Matthew 5:44)
Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16)
Suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Romans 8:17)
Love without dissimulation (Romans 12:9)
Abhor evil (Romans 12:10)
Cleave to good (Romans 12:10)
Bless them which persecute you – don’t curse them (Romans 12:14)
Take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of (2 Timothy 3:14)
Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15)
Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:13)
Examples of Prayers for the Persecutors
Jesus prayed for his persecutors. Perhaps one of His most famous prayers was uttered when he faced certain death, even the death on the cross:
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, was no stranger to persecution, mostly because before his conversion he was the lead persecutor (see Acts 7:55-60 for the account of Stephen’s stoning – Saul was the “young man” at whom the witnesses threw their clothes; a sign of respect for the leader). After conversion and throughout Paul’s missionary travels he asked that the Churches pray for him, that he might overcome his own persecutors and those whom try to quash his message. Two such requests are documented in Romans and 1 Thessalonians:
Romans 15:30-32 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: 2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
As we travel through life as a Christian we will be faced with persecution for our love and devotion to Jesus. We can learn from those who have gone before us as to what we should expect and how to keep the right attitude when responding to persecution. Our greatest teacher is our Savior Jesus. Even after He was beaten beyond recognition, He raised a prayer to the Father in Heaven to forgive those who persecuted Him. Jesus prayed for His persecutors in His last hours. He was not thinking of Himself. He did not grumble nor complain. He prayed for them! And then He endured the cruel death on the cross – he was obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8) . Do you know Jesus? Will you come to Him today? The persecution that we are dealt as a follower of Jesus cannot compare at all with what He did for us. He took the nails for me. He took the nails for you. The least we can do is endure the persecution for Christ’s sake! Oh what a beautiful Savior! And what a beautiful promise we have because of Him: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
The Holy Bible, King James Version
YouTube video “Beautiful Savior” by Casting Crowns
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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.
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:
- 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)!
- Pray for protection from sin: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (v. 11).
- Pray for opened eyes: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (v. 18).
- Pray for spiritual strength: My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word (v. 28)!
- 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)!
- 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).
- Pray to live with trust in God’s promises: This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (v. 50).
- Pray for quick obedience: I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments (v. 60).
- Pray for good judgment and knowledge: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments (v. 66).
- Pray for God’s comfort: Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant (v. 76).
- Pray for endurance against the enemy: All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me (v. 86)!
- 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).
- Pray for continual meditation: Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day (v. 97).
- Pray for God’s light to guide you: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (v. 105).
- Pray for fear of the Lord: My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments (v. 120).
- 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).
- Pray for victory over sin: Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me (v. 133).
- Pray for joy in trouble: Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight (v. 143).
- 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).
- Pray for mercy: Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules (v. 156).
- Pray to abhor falsehood: I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law (v. 163).
- 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 UnlockingTheBible.org. 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.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 29, 2016