Every morning I pray. Sometimes long prayers sometimes shorter, but always I ask for wisdom and understanding before I read God’s Word. I did not always do this. I was pretty much task oriented. I read the Word of God to complete the task of reading it. But that approach changed for me when I participated in a small group study of a book by John MacArthur called, ‘WHY BELIEVE THE BIBLE?‘.
In this book, MacArthur discusses the importance of praying for understanding before reading God’s Word. He goes so far to say it is almost blasphemy to do otherwise. That was one of those things that had a lasting impact on me and changed the way I studied. That prayer and trust that comes from it have opened my mind to God’s Word in ways that I do not think would be possible without prayer.
Most mornings I struggle to know where to start in my study or what to read. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the Word and show me the path for the day one step at a time. I do not have a plan. I just start. Most mornings It is with the K-Love verse. Then my Oswald Chambers devotional or Tozer.
This morning was no different in how I started. I read K-Love and Utmost for His Highest. The verses and teachings led me into different passages, and I was convicted once again of surrendering to God and following His Guiding Spirit as I study.
I read this K-Love verse and read the proceeding verse as well.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Proverbs 16:20-21 (ESV)
As I read these verses, I felt the need to know God through His Word and the need to allow God to share Himself with me through His Word by asking Him to open my heart and mind to His teachings. As I meditated on these things my heart filled with joy and understanding that refreshed me.
Why I Can Lack Understanding
The devotional in “Utmost for His Highest” today, April 7, had a pretty harsh title. As I read it, a sinking feeling came over me. It forced me to do a bit of self-examination; not to see if I lacked understanding, but if I was humbling myself before the Lord when I studied and surrendered myself to His will for me this morning.
I read the devotional, and I went to each passage referenced in the text and read them in context. First was Mark 9:9.
Jesus and asked the disciples, Peter, James and John were coming down from experiencing Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus gave them very specific instructions as they walked back to join the others.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Chambers references Mark 9:9 and suggest that we should do the same; we should wait until Jesus is in our heart. Until our hearts and minds are truly opened to understand His teaching.
Chambers talks about the need to being filled with the Spirit and allowing Him to guide us through God’s Word. I like this sentence from the devotional.
“When you grow and develop the right condition inwardly, the words Jesus spoke become so clear that you are amazed you did not grasp them before. In fact, you were not able to understand them before because you had not yet developed the proper spiritual condition to deal with them.”
He goes on from there to reference John 16:12
I read John 16:12-15
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:12-15 (ESV)
Jesus tells them of the Helper that will come after He is gone and all that He will reveal to us if we listen, and I was overwhelmed by His presence in my heart and the need to ask in prayer and listen for His answers in the Word.
As I was meditating on all this and writing my opening thoughts, I got this nagging feeling that I needed to read Tozer’s devotional for today. The book “Tozer on Christian Leadership.” I opened it to April 7th. The referenced verse was Psalm 1:2. I read it, and I needed a bit more to get the context, so I read verse 1 as well.
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:1-2 (ESV)
Tozer goes on from there to discuss the very thing that I had been convicted of this morning. He reminded me to meditate on the Word and wait for my faith to grow and for the Holy Spirit to bring me an understanding of God’s Word.
As I read it, I got cold chills… For this moment I thought, “How can this be.” I start my study with this one thought that I must begin in prayer asking for the Spirit to guide me and every passage I read reminds me of my first thought.
I prayed and just asked for understanding, and all I could think of is the word repetition. I realized that I was given this first thought this morning and the Holy Spirit did not want me to forget how important it was for me to practice it. He did that by reminding me that in everything I read I need to seek His guidance and He will reveal to me what I need for that day.
I know that prayer is an essential part of studying God’s Word. But God reminded me this morning that knowing it is not enough. It is too easy for the knowledge to become practice and the practice to become routine, and in routine, we can become complacent, and there is no place for that in our search to grow closer to Him.
He reminded me this morning that there is nothing routine about God, and there must be nothing routine in the way that I seek Him. Each moment must be fresh and new. I cannot do that on my own. I must earnestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It must be the whole desire of my heart.
Heavenly Father forgive me for taking my time with you for granted. Thank you, Lord, for reminding me that there is nothing routine about you and there must be nothing routine in how I come to you for guidance.
Father, you are my Hope and Strength. Let me always remember these Word from the Psalm.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalms 121:1-2 ESV)
Father to you be all the glory.
In Jesus Name I pray, Amen! Thank you, Father!!!