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Prayer Before Study

Even though I am staunchly in the Wesleyan-Arminian theological tribe, I have often received spiritual nourishment from pastors and theologians of other traditions. While still in college, someone passed me a cassette tape of a talk given by John Piper to the Evangelical Theological Society. I don’t remember all of the talk, but I remember it was about how God’s place in all of life, including theological education, is right in the center of everything. I remember him saying something similar to this: There wouldn’t be a need for spiritual formation classes if a prayerful professor modeled a life of devotion to God. I took two spiritual formation classes in seminary but I could have sailed through without them because of the professors I had for other classes so in some sense Piper was right even though I loved the two classes I had with Reg Johnson.

The other thing I remember Piper talking about Reformed theologian B.B. Warfield who was told by someone that ten minutes in prayer was worth more than ten hours in the books to which Warfield replied, “What, more than ten hours over your books on your knees?” In other words, why not be prayerful in your study? I wanted to model this kind of study while in seminary but I didn’t actually do it. I don’t have many regrets in my life but not taking seminary more seriously than I did is number two on my list. I’m learning to do things now that I should have practiced then. The funny thing is, I knew what I ought to have been doing back then, I just didn’t do it. For example, and the reason for this post, here’s a prayer I wrote when I was in the middle of a class on the Pentateuch during my second semester. It’s based on Psalm 119 and I hope you find it helpful as you study the Bible on your knees.

Prayer of Consecration for the Studying of Scripture

Lord, I come before you dirty, dry, and empty.
In my heart there is hate and in my mind, filth.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies and
Make my mind understand.

I have drawn water from dry wells and I need
You to revive me with Your Living Water
According to Your Word. Plant me by the
Streams of living water in Your Word.

I am a disobedient child. You have ordained
Your precepts that I should keep them diligently.
Teach me Your statutes that I may delight in
Your Law instead of fleeing it.

In this time of study, with all my heart I seek
You, do not let me wander from your commandments.
Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things
From You, Lord. Let me not forget Your Word.

I will delight in Your statutes and laws. Please
Open my heart to Your Spirit and guide me
In meditation and study so that Your Words
Will be written on my heart.

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  1. October 16, 2008 at 11:00 am

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