It makes sense to pray when you read the Bible, but should you do it before reading, or after reading God’s Word?
Reading the Bible to know more about God makes sense. Absorbing scripture to receive guidance, comfort, or wisdom also makes sense. But should we pray before we read, or after?
While you can pray both before and after reading the bible, the good news is that you can do both! Whether you seek God’s guidance before reading, or for direction after reading the Bible, praying in combination with hearing from God in scripture is a solid habit to build.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” ( 2 Timothy 3.16-17, NIV)
To discover more about the frequency of prayer, read How Often Should I Pray. To find out about answers to prayers, read How Does God Answer Prayers. But, to find out about praying before or after reading the Bible, we invite you to continue reading this article.
When it comes to when you should pray along with reading the Bible, I don’t think it makes a difference.
I think it is beneficial either way, as you are inviting God into the moments of reading God’s Word. Or, if you end your reading with prayers, then you are also on solid footing.
There’s no need to get legalistic about it. Personally, I’ve even had moments where I’ve transitioned into prayer as I was reading the verses.
With just over 31,000 verses in the Bible, can you say that you understand every single verse, without any doubt or misunderstanding? Or, after reading one of the nearly 1,200 chapters found in scripture, you have come away with perfect knowledge as to how to apply what you’ve read?
I invite you to read along and discover the joy of joining prayer with the reading of scripture, whenever, and however that occurs.
Why Pray Before Reading the Bible?
Given that the Bible is actually 66 separate books, with one main story, encompassing at least a half dozen different types of literature, originally written by a host of authors, in at least three different languages, it is okay to admit that we might now fully grasp what we are reading.
Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to seek guidance from the One whom the main story is about, the One who inspired the very writers?
What better way to do that than praying before you read the Bible? After all, the Apostle James reminds us that we can, and should, seek God for wisdom if we aren’t sure about something:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1.5, NIV).
Maybe you are coming to God’s Word and you’re not sure what you need to read. Perhaps you have a specific section of scripture you want to read, but want to know what you’re reading.
Or, you could have a situation in your life and are needing insight, guidance, or comfort, and aren’t certain where to turn in the Bible for what you seek.
Any of these, and all of these, are good reasons to pray before you read the Bible. Simple prayers like these may prove helpful:
Dear God, I want to hear from you through scripture today. I ask that you direct me to the verses you want me to see and read today. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Dear Lord, I’m reading the Gospel of Matthew this morning and I really want to understand what Jesus is saying in his teachings there. Please help me understand the reality of what Jesus is saying, in his name I pray, Amen.
Father God, I need guidance for my life right now and I believe I will find it in your Word. Please help me see the way through in scripture tonight as I read. I ask this through Jesus Christ, Amen.
Of course, you can make your own prayer, but these examples may help you get started. You may also find these prayers useful.
As you open yourself up to God prior to reading the Bible, you will likely discover that distractions may lessen, your focus may sharpen, and your grasp of what you’re reading deepens.
You might think of praying before reading scripture as a way of preparing your heart and mind to hear from God.
But what about praying after you read the Bible? Is that okay, too?
Why Pray After Reading the Bible?
You open your Bible and you read whatever scriptures you have planned to read for the day. Now what?
What do you do with what you read? How do you apply the insights in scripture to your everyday life?
How do you ensure that the wisdom you’ve just seen with your eyes makes it all the way to your heart and mind? Can you do that on your own?
With some humility, we need to be honest with ourselves that applying God’s Word to our lives isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Is it easy to love your neighbor as you love yourself, or to love those who hate you?
We can use all the help we can get, and who better to ask for help than the God who created us, redeemed us through Christ, and guides us by the Spirit?
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3.12-17, NIV).
If we’re going to let the message of Christ dwell in us richly, as the Apostle Paul encourages us to do, then it makes sense to go to God for how to do this. This means that praying after reading the Bible is a natural extension of our time.
We may pray about how to apply what God just showed us in scripture. Maybe we need help in confessing what God’s Spirit lovingly showed us as we read the truth. Or, we may have questions because we don’t fully understand what we just read.
These are all valid reasons to pray after reading the Bible. Prayers like the examples below might prove useful.
Dear Lord, I am challenged by what I read today about being a good worker. Help me to do my best at my job so that you may be glorified in what I’m doing. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Dear God in heaven, I am convicted of my envy as I read your Word today. I confess I am envious of my neighbor and their possessions. Help me release this and receive your forgiveness. I don’t want this in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Dear Father God, I love learning of you and what you want for me. But today, I don’t fully grasp what you’re trying to teach me about acceptance of others. I open myself up to you Holy Spirit, to guide me and transform me. Help me learn of your Truth. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.
Praying to God after you read scripture allows God to continue the conversation begun in the Bible.
Prayer as a Good Habit
Whether you pray before reading the Bible or after, praying at all is a good habit to start, if you already are not a regular prayer. If you’re not, that’s okay, there’s no judgment here.
This website exists because we believe that prayer is useful and that prayer works. We don’t fully understand how God works through prayer, but we trust that God does.
There are over 200 different prayers on this site, covering all types of topics and needs, and requests.
We invite you to explore the different prayers. While you may not need a specific prayer at the moment, you may in the future and this is the place where you can come and find what you need.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” ( Hebrews 4.16, NIV).
It might be helpful to consider the question of whether to pray before or after reading the Bible in this way. If you were not hungry for God, passionate about following Jesus, then you wouldn’t be asking the question.
Take the asking of the question as a desire to know what God wants for your life. You’re asking the question, and reading this article right now because you want whatever God has for you.
I encourage you to think about this, not as a wrong way or a right way to go about reading scripture, but rather as “How can I hear from God even more than I am right now?”
And the answer is either way, or both! Pray before reading the Bible and see how that goes for a while. Then pray after reading the Bible and see what happens then. You may find that you like doing both. Or you can switch off as you need.
Trust in the God who is guiding you that whatever you are doing in your prayer life is helping you grow closer to God!
Please share other questions you may have in the comments section below, so we can try to answer them in future articles.