[For Part 1 of this series, please Click Here]
Like every part of the Christian experience, effective Bible study begins with prayer. The first step to sound Bible study, indeed the most important step, begins before we even open our Bibles. If we approach the study of God’s Word as we might approach reading a math textbook, a novel, or the newspaper, we will never gain the insight into its spiritual truths that we desire. Sadly, there are a great many people who read the Bible with exactly this frame of mind.
Not so much anymore, but at one time I enjoyed watching the documentaries about the Bible and its events that come on T.V. It’s very interesting seeing Science confirm the Scriptures, but some of the theories raised based on the resultant data are often downright bewildering. Individuals representing prestigious institutes of higher learning, both secular and religious, people with a lot of letters following their names, graduates of some of the most respected Universities in the world, seem to be able to reach some of the most far-fetched, often ridiculous, conclusions imaginable. It is certainly not because they lack intelligence or mental acumen, these are some very brilliant folks, nor are they ignorant of what the Bible says. But in listening to their thoughts and opinions, it becomes apparent that, although they may have studied under some very knowledgeable Bible teachers, they have not consulted the Bible Teacher: the One Who wrote the Bible.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 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.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-11)
If we want to understand physics, we are wise to consult a physicist. If we desire to know more about mathematics, then we would do well to seek out the teachings of a skilled mathematician. If we want to know about the things of God, then we really have but one Place to turn: the Spirit of God. God does use human teachers to expound His Word, but even so, unless the Holy Spirit gives us understanding, we will never be able to comprehend the things of God. Only the Spirit of God can illuminate His own Word, revealing to our hearts what He meant when He wrote it and what it means for us. Gifted preachers and Bible teachers can share the insights that God has shown them from the Bible, but unless the Holy Spirit “turns the light on” in our own spirits, we will fail to understand what they are telling us.
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;” (Colossians 1:9)
When we come to study the Word of God, we should come with a prayerful heart, knowing that only the Lord can give us understanding. We should also come with an expectant heart, ready to let God speak the truths of the Bible into our own lives. If we wish to find meaning in the Scriptures, if we desire for the Word of God to come alive for us personally, then we must pray that the Spirit of the Lord will shine His Light on the verses and illuminate them. As we open the Word of God, may we pray for ourselves what the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians: “Lord, fill me with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Let us say as the Psalmist, praying: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy [Word]” (Psalm 119:18).
Let us ask the Great Teacher to teach us His Word, beseeching Him to speak to us from it by first speaking to Him. Before we open His Word, may we open our hearts to hear what He has to tell us, asking Him to open our blind eyes. No man can know the things of God except the Spirit show him. Even so, Lord Jesus, show us!
Next time, Lord willing, we will look at the next step: Reading
Until then, may the Lord open His Word to you, filling you with the wisdom and spiritual understanding of His will. To God goes all glory. In service to the Great Teacher,