Studying the Bible Prayerfully

The Secret Tool of the Christian’s Quiet Time

Psalm 119:18

May 29th 2011 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland

I. Introduction (John 10:27-29) “My sheep hear my voice”

A. We are basically ignorant of this Book. A person may not have all the understanding, all the “smarts” to piece together everything in the Bible and understand everything that God is saying in the pages of this Book, but there is Someone who will help us

B. The Holy Spirit

C. I want to show you how to learn to “listen” to the Holy Spirit teach you as you read God’s word

D. I call it, Learning God’s Word Prayerfully – with MUCH prayer, AS you are reading and studying.

1. Prayer is more than just asking for things from God

2. It is the way to walk with God, conversing with Him, ASKING Him, and listening to Him

3. And every Christian needs to do when they are reading and studying God’s words, so that they hear not the words on a page, but the words of eternal life!

II. Message

A. The Bible is God’s Revelation of Truth (John 17:17)

1. It is not figured out naturally (1Cor 2:12-15)

a. There are things that do make sense

b. But much that will seem only foolishness

2. The missing ingredient is the teaching power of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)

a. One of the main functions of the Holy Spirit is to help you understand the Bible, and how to apply it to your life.

b. If you are not prayerfully reading your bible, you are trying to understand the Bible based on your own skill.

3. Did you ever stop and realize that John 14:26 is a promise by Jesus?

a. This is also a wonderful chance to put God to a test.

b. Ever come to a verse where you are not sure what it means? Try praying something like this: “Father, the Bible says that the role of the Holy Spirit is to teach me all things. I don’t understand this verse, help me please, amen.” This is where the supernatural ability of God will often come into your life. God’s reputation is now on the line because He promised he would teach you all things and here is a “thing” you don’t comprehend. I am convinced by experience God answers those prayers because it is an opportunity to give the glory to God and not yourself.

c. When you are stuck, you can pray for God’s guidance

4. There is nothing wrong with asking God to help us understand what we are reading. We need to be smart enough to ask directions from God gentlemen!

5. It is how He reveals Himself (Luke 10:21) - to ignorant babies who are not so smart

B. The Need for No Speed (Psalm 119:97-99)

1. Compared to eating food (Job 23:12)

a. Chew on it before you swallow!

b. Enjoy the savour, the flavour

c. Sometimes it is bitter and hard to chew

d. But the enjoyment is in the chewing (Ps 119:103)

2. Pray through every line – it takes time!

3. Meditate on every word

4. Talk with God, using His own words!

5. You have to make time to do this! To stop and think about what you are reading

C. What You Are Doing When You Pray As You Read

1. You are Listening for a Voice (Contrast with Mt 13:15)

a. Most of the time, people fake their relationship with God

b. They go through the motions

1) Sitting down

2) Opening their Bible

3) Reading their set chapters

4) Closing their Bible

5) Heading off back to their same old life

6) Never experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit

c. But when there is a conversation going on between you and God…

1) Then there will often be a battle

2) There is debate

3) There is wrestling

4) And then a peace

5) And a blessing from God

6) A strength that comes from listening to His “still, small voice”

d. Example of Jacob (Gen 32:24-26)

1) He needed to hear God encourage him, bless him

2) But only after wrestling with the Lord, arguing with Him

2. You are Opening Up to God (Psalm 32:1-6)

a. Bible Study is not a one way communication

b. You are supposed to argue with God, and wrestle with His will

c. It opens up that cold hard heart of yours

d. God is a big boy, and can handle Himself – question is, will you let HIM answer you as you probe what He is doing in your life, and what he is meaning by His words?

e. People today are incredibly “open” about too much stuff with everyone around them – thanks to Oprah Winfry and other talk shows

f. Yet when it comes to their relationship with God, they are stiff as a board!

g. Talk as you read God’s word

h. Talk with God about what you are reading

i. Ask Him the questions that come to your heart

j. Put yourself in the verse and see if it fits YOUR situation

k. Illustration of Daniel (Dan 9:1-4; 10:1-6)

1) By-the-way, stay at it until you get an answer from heaven

2) Don’t be short on time with God – impatient

3. You are Worshipping

a. Worship is thankfulness

b. Worship is awe

c. Worship is yieldedness to God’s will

d. You won’t be any of those unless you are engaged, involved in a relationship with God according to the words of this Book

e. Most people attempt to relate to a God they do not know – a God of their own design

f. But the Bible is the only way to know how to talk to God, what you can ask, how far you can trust him

g. Don’t spend your whole life ignorant of the person of Jesus in your life

4. You are Reminding God of His Promises (actually, you are reminding yourself to TRUST what He has promised)

a. Start noticing what God is saying so that you can claim what He is offering you

b. If you were reading the newspaper, and out of the corner of your eye, down at the bottom, noticed a free give away of a 3 course meal at a local restaurant, wouldn’t you cut out the coupon and head over and claim that free meal?

c. What if you found out that there were loads of free offers spread throughout every page of the newspaper – wouldn’t you read it more closely?

d. Example of Psalm 91

1) “Help me find and stay in that secret place” (1)

2) “Help me trust in your refuge” (2)

3) “I need you to deliver me from Satan’s attacks” (3)

4) “Let me feel your protection like a chick knows the hen is there” (4)

5) “I will not be afraid of anything, because you are with me” (5,6)

e. Example of Psalm 92

1) “I better thank God for something, right now” (1)

2) “I will sing out louder at church so that I can point out just how wonderful you are, and how worthy you are of all my talent” (2,3)

f. Example of Psalm 93

1) “Help me Father to remember that you reign – are in control” (1)

2) “You are above all earth’s disasters” (2-4)

3) “Keep me holy and clean in my heart for you” (5)

g. The examples are countless! Name a promise of God!

D. What to Pray As You Read

1. Open My Eyes (Psalm 119:18) – don’t let me waste my time NOT seeing the wonderful truths and promises and important commands that are here for me!

2. Show me great and mighty things that I do not expect (Jer 33:3). Quit NOT expecting something awesome from your reading and study of God’s word

3. Help my unbelief (Mk 9:24).

a. What a prayer!

b. This is why there are so few great things happening

c. Not because God has grown weaker, but because we really don’t believe God

d. Jesus could not do many miracles most of the time because of people’s unbelief

4. Increase my Faith (Luke 17:5)

a. We need to be on the increase in our confidence in the Lord

b. Most Christians only increase in “faith” as they see good times

c. Faith comes by hearing, believing and obeying this Book!

5. Glorify Thyself through Me (Jn 12:28)

a. Is the Bible about YOU, or about the Lord God of heaven?

b. Stop being so selfish as you read and study

c. Ask God to glorify himself through your life

6. Help Me to Obey (Mt 26:42)

III. Conclusion

A. Don’t just go through the motions of a religious duty

B. Christians need to be listening to Christ’s voice “My sheep hear my voice” as they read

1. It happens only when you take time to pray as you read – to listen to God, and talk back with Him as you read

2. Questioning Him, and wrestling with what you are learning

3. And finally yielding to His way of doing things

C. Take the time to do the following things when you are reading God’s word

1. Pray – not just before, but while reading

2. Listen – meditate on what you are hearing God say – think about it, and then think some more

3. Talk with God about what you just read

4. Open up to God

a. Go ahead and wrestle with His will

b. Let God crack open that cold hard heart of yours

c. Stay at it until you get an answer from heaven – it will take some time

d. Don’t be short on time with God – impatient

5. Worship God

a. Tell Him how much you love Him, and need Him

b. Take note of the greatness of the God you serve!

6. Remind yourself to TRUST what He has promised

D. What to Pray As You Read

1. Open My Eyes (Psalm 119:18)

2. Show me great and mighty things that I do not expect (Jer 33:3).

3. Help my unbelief (Mk 9:24).

4. Increase my Faith (Luke 17:5)

5. Glorify Thyself through Me (Jn 12:28)

6. Help Me to Obey (Mt 26:42)