Prayer is one of the clearest acknowledgements from Christians that we depend on God. For every step, for every breath, for every word we speak in God’s name, we need the wisdom and strength that only God can provide. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.
At Knowable Word, we’ve described a time-tested method of studying the Bible. But don’t let the steps and descriptions lead you into self-reliance. You can follow the OIA method all you want—if you do not have the help and favor of God, it won’t do you a bit of good.
Pray for Understanding
The good news of the Bible is that, for Christians, God’s love doesn’t depend on our actions. God’s love relies on Jesus’s actions in our place.
And yet God wants us to pray. He uses our humble reliance on him in prayer to teach us and change us. We especially need this when we try to understand the Bible.
We should pray because we are blind. In our flesh, we cannot see what we should see in the Bible; we need God to open our eyes (Psalm 119:18).
We should pray because we are dim. Though we think ourselves smart, our natural minds cannot discern spiritual truths. The Holy Spirit helps us know the things given to us by God (1 Cor 2:10–16).
We should pray because we are distracted. We often find the world’s beeps and boops more delightful than God’s word. We need the Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
We should pray because we are distant. We may observe the Bible carefully and interpret it accurately, but if we keep God’s word at arm’s length, we are wasting our time. We need God to incline our hearts to his testimonies (Psalm 119:36).
Observation and interpretation lead us to the main point of a Bible passage, and we need God’s help on every inch of the journey. Moving on from the main point, our need to pray only skyrockets.
Pray for Living
The hardest work of studying the Bible is application. In this third step, we listen to God’s call to change. Anyone who’s tried to change knows how powerless they are on their own.
We should pray because we are clueless. We are often oblivious to our sin. We are used to our patterns and hardened to their effects on others. We need God to show us the grievous ways in us (Psalm 139:23–24).
We should pray because we are resistant. We like our sin; it is comfortable and familiar. We need the Spirit to convict us (John 16:8).
We should pray because our growth is God’s work. God has no less than our complete sanctification in view (1 Thess 5:23).
We should pray because our growth is also our work. Because God is at work in us for his good pleasure, we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12–13).
We should pray because we need transformation. Christians are works in progress. We should ask God to show us our sin, grant us repentance, and, as we behold God’s glory, transform us from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18).
Pray and Pray Some More
Bible study calls for frequent prayer. Acknowledging God’s rule, his power, his goodness, and his love should be second nature.
The Psalmist knew what it was like to seek God regarding his word. Let’s learn to pray in the same way.
Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes. (Psalm 119:124)