When we’re studying the Word of God, it is not based on our own intelligence, logic, or efforts. To truly understand God’s holy book we must pray and ask the Author to open up His Word to us. Here are 4 reasons why you should pray when you study.
1. You have access to the Author of the book.
Have you ever met the writers of your school textbooks? Do you know the author of that cookbook? What about the poet who penned your favorite rhyme? Most of us have never met and have zero connection to those who write books we learn from, enjoy, or use in our daily lives. If we did, we might be able to ask them questions, get further clarity, or gain insight about what they wrote.
The Bible is the Word of God, and 2 Timothy 3:16 lets us know, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” ALL of it came from God and since we have direct access to God and the opportunity to build a personal relationship with the author, it just makes sense to go to Him as we dig into His Word. It’s the Word of GOD; it is HIS book. Use the access He gave you to Him as you spend time in His Word.
2. Prayer acknowledges you need God’s help and guidance.
Prayer, addressing the King of kings, is a privilege, an opportunity. It’s not a burden – we get to pray. Even though the Bible tells us “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8), He still instructs us to pray, ask, and seek Him with our requests. Why? Our prayer acknowledges we need His help and guidance. Prayer invites God into our situation, humbly asking Him to meet our need and make up the difference.
When we are doing something and we feel comfortable and confident that “we got it,” we don’t ask for help. When we realize that we’re not up to the task at hand, we usually humble ourselves and request assistance from someone we believe is able to do it. We study God’s word because we know we need to know God’s will and His way based on what He wrote. It is critical for abundant life here and our eternal destination somewhere that we get understanding of His word. We are NOT smart enough to get that on our own, and with the stakes so high I wouldn’t risk it!
The disciples asked questions as Jesus taught the lessons and parables we read in the gospels. They didn’t act as if they understood when they didn’t; they asked Him and He gave further instruction and explanation to help them understand His Word (example: Matt. 13:36-43). In Luke 24, Jesus went through scriptures about Himself (v. 27, 44) with His disciples, and the Bible says “then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45).
God can open our understanding too. Don’t lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5) as you search the scriptures. Don’t try to figure it out; pray and ask God to guide you through His Word and help you rightly divide the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15).
3. Your natural man [psyche] can’t receive or know the things of God; it’s by the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:10-14 gives us so many golden nuggets relative to understanding the things of God. It says,
“10 … God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.”
In verse 11 we find that NO MAN knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God. Catch that! No man can get God stuff on his own; we need God’s spirit! We need the Holy Ghost to teach us, reveal to us, and help us know the things of God. Our natural man is unable to get it like we should and so we cannot rely on it in life generally & specifically when studying.
The natural man is psychikos (Strong’s G5591), which comes from the Greek word psychē. This relates to our soul, intellect, and emotions, the things we think of when we talk about psychology or psychiatry. That psyche is what is developed by school and life experience, but notice, the Bible lets us know the natural man [psychikos] doesn’t RECEIVE or KNOW the things of the Spirit of God, and Jesus said “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). His Word is by His Spirit and focused on the things of the Spirit, so if we try to receive from God’s word or know God’s word by our natural man [psyche], we’ll fail. If we instead PRAY to the God who will lead and teach us by His Spirit (John 14:26), we’ll be fruitful in studying and understanding the word of God.
4. Prayer helps you apply what you’re learning to your life.
The Bible is not helpful knowledge, fun facts, or cool information; it is not a normal book. It is our textbook for every topic, our answer key for life, and our guide for eternity. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 lets us know it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
We cannot treat the Bible as any book, but should study with the goal of not just knowing, understanding, or teaching it; we have to seek God about how to APPLY IT. The goal is to DO IT. As we study and pray, God will help us to be not just a hearer (or studier) of the Word, but a DOER of the Word. James 1:22-25 says it like this,
“22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
Prayer helps us seek God for His wisdom, identify areas of personal growth, and gain strength to walk in what we learned – to DO the Bible thing the Bible way and get the Bible results.
We must take the time to study (and Just Word Academy is a GREAT place to start) but as we study, we must pray that God open our understanding by His Spirit. We need His help! Prayer is asking for it, and we can be sure that as we pray and study, seeking the author, He’ll hear and help us understand and live His Holy Word.
Do you pray when you study? How has prayer helped you understand and apply the word of God? What was your favorite reason above? Share your comments below!
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