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First post in a new series: Connections between the Bible and prayer

Friday August 31 2018

First post in a new series: Connections between the Bible and prayer

I became a committed Christian at 19, and for the next two years I was actively involved in the Christian fellowship group at my university. The group was affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and we were taught that one of the basic commitments of being a Christian was to have a daily quiet time.

The DQT, as some people called it, had two components: Bible study and intercessory prayer. We were encouraged to pray briefly before beginning our Bible study to ask for God’s help to understand the passage. We were taught to look for three things in the biblical passage:

  • What does it say?
  • What does it mean?
  • What does it mean to me?

At the point where we were able to identify how the passage related to our life, we were encouraged to pray for God’s help to apply that truth in our lives. Then we moved on to intercessory prayer for the needs we saw around us.

The same pattern applied in the small group Bible studies I participated in during my university and young adult years. We prayed for God’s help to see God’s truth in the passage, discussed the passage, prayed to apply the truth from the passage to our lives, and then prayed for each other’s needs.

All of these things are good. In fact, very good. But prayer can deepen our Bible study in so many additional ways, and the Bible can shape our prayers so profoundly as well. This is the first post in a series exploring connections between the Bible and prayer.

I recently taught a class at my own church on this topic, and I asked the participants a series of questions to begin. The first question I asked was: “What do you pray for when you open the Bible to read a passage?” I was impressed with the depth of the answers:

  • I pray, “God help me know what you’re saying to me.”
  • I pray about the specific problems I have, asking God to give me answers from the passage.
  • I pray for what God wants me to see.
  • I pray that God would help me see the context of the passage and the relationship between that context and my own life.
  • I pray that God would show me what this passage means for me today.

I also asked them to ponder the role of the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the Bible provides a whole lot of stimulation for prayer. The people in the class I taught said that the Holy Spirit:

  • helps us understand a passage and its relevance to our lives
  • mingles God’s wisdom with our own experience
  • often gives us a new slant on a passage, helping us to see it in a fresh way
  • nudges us to act in response to what we read
  • reminds us of God’s broader story
  • reminds us we are dependent on God for everything, that we are not the central actors in our lives

All of these ideas can be fuel for prayer as we approach reading or studying the Bible. As we pray for these things, we are more likely to meet God through the words of the Bible. As we experience God’s presence and learn from God in the Bible, we are called to deeper prayer. A lovely synergy results as prayer fuels our Bible reading, and the Bible fuels our prayers.

(Next week: The character of God, as taught in the Bible, and prayer. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under “subscribe” in the right hand column.)

Two previous posts on this blog that set the stage nicely for this series on the Bible and prayer:

     Life in a two-beat rhythm         
     Open hands, open heart         



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