When I was in seminary, only one professor that I can recall ever said that we should pray and ask God to help us understand the passage we were studying. His name was Zane Hodges.
Zane pointed us to verses like Luke 24:32, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (emphasis added). And again Luke 24:45 says, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (emphasis added).
That made sense to me. Interpretation is more than an art and a science. It is also spiritual interaction between the Holy Spirit and our minds. It makes sense that we would pray and ask God to help us understand His Word. In fact, to not do so seems arrogant, like we don’t need God to grasp His Word.
I was struck today while reading Bible Study Magazine (Sept-Oct 2019) to see three different authors suggest that we should pray and ask God to help us understand. Kay Arthur and Beth Moore both hold to a Lordship Salvation position. However, I liked what they said in this magazine about prayer. Kay Arthur said, “I begin with prayer, asking God to speak to me, to direct me to the book he wants me to study and to help me understand it” (p. 14). Beth Moore wrote, “I ask God to grant me a supernatural love for him and his word” (p. 16).
I was not familiar with Elyse Fitzpatrick. She appears at several Calvinist sites like Ligonier and Desiring God. Her online bio says she takes classes at Westminster Theological Seminary. I suppose she is a Lordship Salvation Calvinist. But whatever her position, I love these words from her: “First, ask the Holy Spirit to illumine your heart to the truth that is there in that passage” (p. 35).
The fact that someone has an aberrant view on what one must do to be born again does not mean that we have nothing to learn from them. They may make some insightful comments, as these three people did in the magazine I was reading today.
When it comes to understanding God’s word, they say, “I begin with prayer, asking God…” “I ask God…” And, “Ask the Holy Spirit…” That’s good advice, don’t you think?