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Christian Union: The Magazine
January 15, 2024

Praying Before Reading Scripture 

By Julie Weber (2016), Updated & revised by erin conner (2024) 

The intake of Scripture and the practice of prayer are both spiritual disciplines Christians are called to engage in daily and diligently. Should we ever combine the two and pray about our Bible reading?

 Writer Kristen Wetherell, in "Unlocking the Bible," suggests that we can and should pray before we begin our study of the Bible.

She writes, "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. 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." 

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Following this explanation, Wetherell offers 22 different prayers from Psalm 119 to help us focus on the incredible gift of God’s Word:

1.     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! 

2.     Pray for protection from sin: I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

3.     Pray for opened eyes: Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

4.     Pray for spiritual strength:  My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

5.     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.

6.     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.

7.     Pray to live with trust in God’s promises: This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

8.     Pray for quick obedience: I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.

9.     Pray for good judgment and knowledge: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.

10.  Pray for God’s comfort: Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.

11.  Pray for endurance against the enemy: All your commandments are sure; my enemies persecute me with falsehood; help me!

12.  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.

13.  Pray for continual meditation: Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

14.  Pray for God’s light to guide you: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

15.  Pray for fear of the Lord: My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.

16.  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.

17.  Pray for victory over sin: Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

18.  Pray for joy in trouble: Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.

19.  Pray for God to hear you: Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

20.  Pray for mercy: Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

21.  Pray to abhor falsehood: I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.

22.  Pray for a soul of praise: Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 

Lastly, Wetherell leaves us with this exhortation, "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."

Scripture ministers to us like nothing else in the world can as we engage with the living Word of God through its pages. Let us be inspired, then, to pick up His Word each morning to "be transformed by the renewing of our mind" (Romans 12:2). And let us ask God to guide us in all matters, including in our study of Scripture.

Asking God for guidance as we open this gift from Him each day holds the potential to align our hearts and minds with the heart and mind of Christ Jesus. How utterly amazing this is! 

Read Witherall's full article here

Learn more about a Biblical perspective on the importance of a massive intake of Scripture from Christian Union's "Seven Keys to Kingdom Advancement" Online Teaching Series here.