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.
Our Bible reading depends wholly on God’s grace. This is why we pray.
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.
Praise God, grace abounds for our limitations, distractions, and forgetfulness! We can even ask for his help to remember to draw near to him in dependent prayer, even if it’s a five-second plea because that’s all the time we have. It’s not the prayer, itself, that matters, but our dependence on God. Opening our Bibles comes with the conviction that we draw near to God only because of Jesus and through him. So, before we read, we commit to asking for God’s help to receive his Word with faith.
But what exactly do we pray for? Like me, have you struggled to know what this plea for help looks like?
Psalm 119 guides us. This list of 15 prayers from each stanza of the psalm will keep us mindful of our need and God’s provision, will focus us and help us set aside distractions, and will remind us that only Jesus opens the new and living way to God, making our hunger real and our reading possible.
Pray one or more of these 15 prayers before you receive from God's Word today!