Prayer, The Master Key to Profitable Bible Study, Part 1

Ephesians 1:17,18
       That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): If anyone should ask me, how he may read the Scriptures most profitably, I would advise him that, above all, he should seek to have it settled in his own mind, that God alone, by His Spirit, can teach him, and that therefore, as God will be inquired of for blessings, it becomes him to seek God’s blessing previous to reading.

CHARLES BRIDGES: God keeps the key of the treasure-house in His own hand. “For this he will enquired of,” Ezekiel 36:37, to open it unto thee.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Go to God by prayer for a key to unlock the mysteries of His Word.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843):Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” Psalm 119:18. David was not blind, his eye was not dim. He could read the Bible from cover to cover, and yet he felt he needed more light. He felt that he needed to see deeper, to have the eyes of his understanding opened. He felt that if he had nothing but his own eyes and natural understanding, he would not discover the wonders which he panted to see. He wanted Divine teaching—the eye-salve of the Spirit; and therefore he would not open the Bible without the prayer, “Open thou mine eyes.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): It is most certain that we cannot succeed in comprehending the Scripture either by study or mere intellect. Your first duty, then, is to begin with prayer. Entreat the Lord that He will in His great mercy deign to grant you the true knowledge of His Word. There is no other interpreter of the Word of God than the Author of that word according as it is said, “They will all be taught of God.”

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): As the law-maker best knows the meaning of the law, and how it is to be expounded, so for the exposition of the Holy Scriptures, the Spirit of God, as the Author thereof, is first and most to be consulted with, by faithful and earnest prayer, from a good conscience, that God may fulfill His promise made of “giving his Holy Spirit to them that ask it,” Luke 11:13, and of “revealing his secrets to them that fear him,” Psalm 25:14.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Let me advise you, before you read the Scriptures, to pray, that Christ, according to His promise, would send His Spirit to guide you into all truth, John 16:13.

NICHOLAS BYFIELD (1579-1622): It is a special promise of God in the new covenant that He will write His laws in thy heart, and He will make thee to know the Lord. Thou mayest go boldly to the throne of grace to beg the further illumination of the Spirit of God. This is one of the suits that God cannot deny.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): When we allow God to lead to Himself by Holy Scripture, we shall know how much God will be our helper. For we shall come to the Father as to the source of all things.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Pray, therefore, with St. Paul, that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, the eyes of our understanding being enlightened.”

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): And what should we do without the Spirit’s holy teaching?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If you study the original, consult the commentaries, and meditate deeply, yet if you neglect to cry mightily unto the Spirit of God, your study will not profit you; but even if you are debarred the use of helps―which I trust you will not be―if you wait upon the Holy Ghost in simple dependence upon His teaching, you will lay hold of very much of the divine meaning.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): How can I understand without an interpreter?” Acts 8:31; and this interpreter must be the Spirit of God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): We learn more, and more effectually, by one minute’s communication with Him through the medium of His written Word, than we could from an assembly of divines, or a library of books.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Labour, therefore, earnestly for to attain this blessed Spirit; otherwise, your understandings will never be opened to understand the Scriptures aright: and remember, prayer is one of most immediate means to get this Holy Spirit.

JOHN TRAPP: Beg it, I say, of Him that gives it richly, and hits no man in the teeth. Thus did Daniel the prophet, and John the divine, and that heroic Luther.

MARTIN LUTHER: I always found myself in the best temper for study when I had first composed my thoughts and raised up my affections by prayer…Believe one who is speaking from experience―to have prayed well is to have studied well.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Come then to the Word in meekness and humility, with a teachable frame of spirit, and willingness to know the truth, and a resolution to stand to it, and yield to what shall be revealed to you, and beg of God to shew you His will, and lead you into the truth, and you will find that He will be found of them that seek Him.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): You have got Bibles, read them. You cannot understand them unless the Holy Spirit teach you. Therefore, pray for the Holy Spirit.

JOHN TRAPP: Say, therefore, with David, “Blessed be thou, O Lord, teach me thy statutes, ” Psalm 119:12. And with Zwingli, “I beseech Almighty God to direct our ways.”

HULDRYCH ZWINGLI (1484-1531): Almighty, everlasting, and merciful God, whose word is a lantern to our feet, and a light to our path, be pleased to open and enlighten our minds, that we may both understand these thine oracles piously and holily, and also be transformed into that we rightly understand, so that we may not in anything displease thy Majesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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