If we are followers of Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead—dwells in us (Rom. 8:11). God LIVES in you! What a mystery! This should blow our minds on a regular basis. And, since we have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, one of the job descriptions the Holy Spirit is that he will teach us the Word of God. When we sit down to read the Bible, it is the Holy Spirit who will help us understand, treasure, and obey his Word (1 Cor. 2:12-13).
Listen to the promise of Jesus when talked about the Holy Spirit:
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”- John 14:26
If we only understand the Word of Christ by the help of the Spirit, then we must lean upon him in full dependence, asking him to help us understand, treasure, and obey the Word of God before we read our Bible. After all, apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5). That includes believing and understanding his Word.
So when we sit down in the morning with our cup of coffee and our Bible, let us not jump into the Word before we have prepped our hearts in prayer to hear the voice of God. We must approach God in humility, knowing that we will not understand or believe his Word apart from having his grace to illuminate our hearts. We are desperate and dependent upon him. We must be, because any other attitude is a form of pride in us. And we know “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Father, forgive us when we approach your Word with pride. Thank you for your grace in Christ.
Pray the Bible Before you Read the Bible
Now, let’s make it practical. It’s early morning with a cup of coffee or late in the evening and your kids are in bed. It’s lunch break at work. It’s your afternoon study break. You are ready to sit down and meet with God in his Word. Before you dive in, pause to pray. Ask for help.
I would encourage you to pray the Bible. Pick a verse of Scripture that expresses the need of your heart and pray it for yourself before you read. The Psalms are PERFECT for this. It is a prayer book given to us. Let’s use it. A benefit of doing this is that it keeps our prayers fresh and a bit different each day, keeping us from drifting into the numbness of routine.
Right now, in my time with the Lord, I start by taking a verse from Psalm 119 and praying it back to God, asking him for help. Take a look at some of these verses you can pray over your Bible reading from Psalm 119 before you start.
· “Open my eyes, that I behold wondrous things out of your law.” Ps. 119:18
· “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.” Ps 119:27
· “Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statues; and I will keep it to the end.” Ps. 119:33
· “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Ps. 119:36
· “Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” Ps. 119:77
· “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Ps. 119:97
· “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Ps. 119:105
· “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” Ps. 119:107
· “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” Ps 119:114
Psalm 119 is like this all through—for 176 verses! You could pray one verse a day from this beautiful chapter and it would cover your reading in prayer for nearly half a year! Just from this chapter alone. Your Bible is full of amazing verses to pray over your time in the Word, but the Psalms are particularly helpful for humbling us before we read.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes before you read each day, so that you might see wondrous things out of his Word!
Don’t be discouraged if you have not being doing this already. Jesus is with you to help you and lift your head. He shed his blood and conquered the grave so that he could send you the Helper. Lean on the Helper, and let’s never stop treasuring his Word every day.
If you want good books on this subject, here are a few:
Praying the Bible By Donald Whitney
Prayer by Timothy Keller
Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst