Enjoying the Journey
Weeks ago I received a message late one evening from a fine teenager in our youth group. This young lady has been a great encouragement to me and my wife. She is growing in the Lord and serious about knowing Him better. Her message was to the point: “I have been reading the Bible but I don’t know how to study it. Can you help?”
My mind flooded with ideas and suggestions – all helpful things. We have an entire college class at Crown College on “Methods of Bible Study!” But how could all of that be conveyed to a senior in high school in a brief period of time?
Is it possible that the greatest method of Bible study is built into God’s original design for His children?
Bible study is to be part of a two way communication with the Author. God speaks to us and allows us to speak with Him. Prayer and Bible study must never be separated. The most profound secret of Bible study is wrapped up in the simplest truth: the greatest method of Bible study is prayer.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask…” (James 1:5).
In the words of Martin Luther: “To pray well is to study well.”
The Bible is in itself a prayer book! In Scripture we are commanded to pray over 250 times. Prayer is mentioned another 280 times. This is no accident. This is God’s way of saying, “Talk to me and I will talk to you.”
1. Pray before you open the Scriptures.
Specifically ask the Lord to open your heart and mind. Psalm 119:18 is a wonderful prayer, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” The expectant heart is never disappointed with God.
Understanding Scripture is not about being smart; it is about being led by the Holy Spirit. He illuminates our understanding and there is nothing as exciting as when God turns the light on! Ask Him.
2. Pray through the passage you are reading.
Slow down. Think through every phrase. Then turn the verse back to God. Talk your way through the Scriptures – talk to God about what He is telling you!
Allow your time in the Word of God to become a vibrant, dynamic conversation with the Creator God of the universe. Is there a sin you need to confess? A promise you can claim? An instruction you need to apply? A question you would like to ask? You won’t take God by surprise.
What do you learn about God Himself in the Scripture you are reading? Stop and thank Him for being who He is. Praise and love Him. He loves that and He loves to reveal Himself to His people.
Bible reading is good, but it is a place to start, not a place to stop.
3. Pray the very words of Scripture.
This is one of the most revolutionary truths I ever learned. Pray God’s words back to Him. This does several things. First, it increases our faith. You know you are praying in the will of God if you are praying in agreement with the Word of God. Second, it gives substance to your prayers. No longer are you just praying about the things that come to your mind. Now you are praying about the things that have come from God’s mind!
One example of this is to take the prayer of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel according to John, chapter 17, and pray it for your loved ones. It is the prayer He prayed for His disciples and for us. Surely Jesus knows what to pray for! Or take the prayers of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians and Colossians and make them your own. This will add a spiritual richness to your prayers.
And all the while you will be entering into a deeper understanding of God’s truth.
Yes, there is much more for all of us to learn about studying the Bible. It is the adventure of a lifetime. I am thankful for faithful Bible teachers and a library full of books and resources. Yet, in the end, the Lord has made it so that the hungry heart, seeking Him through prayerful meditation, can know the truth of God and the God of truth.
Be still. Commune with the Author. He lives inside of you.