For years I used to do my Bible study without much prayer.
I mean, I’d separate my prayer time from my Bible study time. Prayer meant sitting down with a list of people to pray for, and Bible study meant sitting down with my Bible and a notebook. They were two separate parts of my life, and they both became chores.
And honestly, when someone would say I should pray before I start my Bible study, I’d be all like, “Yeah, yeah, sure. Maybe for you. But God’s given me a good head on my shoulders and I can figure this out on my own. I don’t see why the Holy Spirit needs to intervene when I’ve got this down pat.”
I know. That’s ugly. Pride always is.
But as I’ve come to realize just how dependent I am on my heavenly Father for every breath I take and every insight He gives me, I’ve learned to thread prayer into everything I do, including my Bible study. And I’ve learned to view Bible study not as an end in itself but as a means toward deeper knowledge of and love for God. Bible study without prayer is like a lightbulb without elecrticity; it doesn’t do anyone any good.
And I believe it will do the same for you.
I like using the acronym ACTS to remember what to pray for, both in life and in my Bible study. You’ll see it explained below:
Adoration in Bible Study
Before you begin reading the Bible, spend some time simply worshipping God for who He is. Praise Him for being eternal and that His Story began before this world was ever created. Meditate on His goodness, His holiness, His love, justice, and kindness. Before you even open the pages of your Bible, remind yourself who God is, and what a privilege it is to serve Him.
During your Bible study, keep an open communication with God. As you’re reading, ask yourself, “What does this passage say about who God is and what He is like?” And after you write down the answer, respond to it with adoration. Let this knowledge penetrate not just your mind but your heart also as you grow in love for God.
After your Bible study, you may have discovered a new facet of God’s character. Respond to Him in worship and adoration. Feel free to sing or make music, and celebrate who He is.
Confession in Bible Study
Before you begin studying the Bible, invite the Holy Spirit to move you to repentence. Acknowledge that your heart is prone to wonder and you need His help to be faithful. Confess any sins that come to mind before you open His Word, and ask Him to purify you of those sins.
During your Bible study, you may sense the Holy Spirit pricking your conscience. As you read of Peter’s denial or Saul’s disobedience, ask yourself, “Have I acted in the same way in my own life?” Move from simply remembering the deed to confessing it and asking for the Father’s forgiveness.
After you study the Bible, spend a few moments asking God to bring to mind anything you may have missed. Ask Him to create in you a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within you (Psalm 51:10).
Thanksgiving in Bible Study
Before you begin your study, thank God for all He has done for you. Think on the last 24 hours and recite His faithfulness as you see it in your life. What has gone well? What has been difficult but bearable because of His presence in your life?
During your study of the Bible, thank God for giving you the Bible and this window into His story. Many people around the world wish they had their own personal Bible, and this privilege should move us to thanksgiving.
After your Bible study, thank Jesus for His sacrifice and reconciling you to the Father. Is there anything in the passage you studied that reveals new things to thank God for? Take time to do it.
Supplication in Bible Study
Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and your mind to understand the depths of His truths in Scripture. Ask Him for wisdom and patience and discipline as you study the Bible (James 1:5). He will gladly give you these things.
During your study, ask God to help you notice if there’s any instruction in the text. Are there ways to grow in your love for God and others that you’ve failed to do in your life?
After your study, ask the Holy Spirit to help you implement what you’ve read. We know that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41), so ask that God will help you follow through.
Listen After You Pray
Conversation is two-way: one person speaks, then the other, and so forth.
When you start with prayer, you talk to God; in studying the Bible, He speaks to you; then you respond to Him in prayer again. But don’t rush off after you’ve said “amen.” Be still for a few minutes and listen in silence. Sometimes the Spirit of God may want to further explain or apply something to your life.
The Holy Spirit is alive in every believer, and He longs to teach and instruct us Himself. Sometimes He will speak to you, and sometimes He won’t, but you’ll never know if you don’t listen. And when He does speak, the Word will come to life in a whole new way. What an incredible way to experience the Word of God!
Start praying today, and you may just discover it’s soon become your favorite part of Bible study.
- Take time to talk with God about what you’ve just read. Is there something you want to Adore Him for, Confess to Him, Thank Him for, or Supplicate (Ask) Him for?
- Could you relate to my confession at the beginning of this post? Or do you lean more toward asking than adoring? Reflect on this post in your journal, writing about what role prayer has played in your Bible study up to this point.
- End your reflection by responding in prayer, using the ACTS model.