Study 2 HOW TO PRAY WHEN READING THE BIBLE
TEN STUDIES IN PSALM 119
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
In our study we will examine this prayer of David. Our object will be to see exactly what it tells us and then to suggest ways in which we should pray this prayer, and which we should be aware of every time we read God’s Word. If we consider this verse carefully we shall see that this one petition embodies five basic and important truths.
- 1. The Bible is a unique Book. In this section of the psalm it is described as “your word” (verse 17); “your law” (verse 18); “your commands” (verse 19); “your statutes” (verses 22 and 24), and the emphasis in each case is on the word “your”. The Bible is unique because it is God’s Book; He is the Author. David’s Bible was much smaller than ours, but now we have in the completed canon of scripture 66 books, all of which are inspired (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
- 2. The Bible contains wonderful things. David says this in his prayer, and when we think of the contents of the Bible – its histories, types, poetry, doctrines and prophecies – we at once realise how wonderful the Book is. It tells us about God, man, sin, death, Heaven, Hell and eternity, and above all about the wonderful salvation which Christ offers (2 Timothy 3:15).
- 3. Before we can see these wonderful things, our eyes must be opened. It was this that David prayed for. We are like the two on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-35), and as we pray the prayer of Psalm 119:18 the Lord Himself draws near. He reveals Himself to us through His Word and our eyes are opened, our heart is warmed and our lips are filled with testimony.
- 4. Only God can open our eyes to see wonderful things in His Word. We need spiritual illumination. This is what was given to Peter (Matthew 16:13-18), and compare Matthew 11:25.
- 5. To gain this needed illumination we must pray the prayer of David – not once, but always when we come to the Word of God – look up 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 and compare Psalm 16:11. For an illustration of opened eyes in answer to prayer, see 2 Kings 6:17 and 20.
How and for what should we pray? There are three special ways in which we should pray every time we read God’s Word:-
1. “Open my eyes that I may…” see myself and the sinfulness of sin.
We should begin here when we pray, for we were born in sin (Psalm 51:5); we have committed sin (Isaiah 53:6); and we only ever see ourselves and our sin as we look into God’s Word and He opens our eyes. In these days we are apt to think that because of educational advantages some people have had, and because of our modern civilisation, our hearts are not so bad, but God’s Word tells us that this is not so. Turn to the following references and ask God to open your eyes to see the sinfulness of the natural heart, your heart, apart from His grace – Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 1:5-6; Isaiah 64:6-7; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19; Ephesians 2:1-3. Now read about Lot’s backsliding (Genesis 19:1-38); Achan’s deceitfulness (Joshua 7:19-23); David’s impurity (2 Samuel 11:1-27); Peter’s denial (Luke 22:54-62); and Diotrephes’ pride (3 John 9). Are we any better by nature? When God shows us ourselves the revelation He gives is very humbling. It was so for Job (Job 40:4); for Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5); for the bride (Song of Songs 1:5-6); for David (Psalm 22:6); for Peter (Luke 5:8); for the Prodigal (Luke 15:21); and for Paul (Romans 7:14).
2. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the love of God and His infinite mercy and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know the story of the grace of God so well; it is wonderfully declared in John 3:16. How great, far-reaching and all-embracing is the love of God! Read again Luke 15:11-24 and revel in verses 20-24. The great proof of God’s love is seen at Calvary, and when my eyes are opened to see the Lord Jesus dying there for me I cry out: “…the Son of God…loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), and humbly say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Do you have this view of Christ crucified for you, and Christ risen and exalted as your Saviour at the right hand of God? Read Philippians 2:5-11, and then say to yourself – “And all this was for me – a sinner!”
3. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the kind of Christian God wants me to be.
If you open your Bible at Psalm 1:1-3 you will see the kind of Christian God wants you to be. You will see the same thing in Romans 6:12-14; Romans 8:37-39; Ephesians 4:31-32 and 2 Timothy 4:18. God desires every one of His children to be victorious in Christian living and fruitful in Christian service, and He has made every provision for us to live for Him and serve Him in this way. The Lord Jesus died and has risen again to give us His own victorious life, and this life is imparted to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
These, then, are the three special prayers that we should always pray when we read our Bibles. Many other things will be revealed to us, such as the glory and the majesty of God, the mystery of His providence, the extent of His redeeming work, the activity of the Holy Spirit, the nature and function of the Church, God’s purposes for the Jew and the Church in the world – so let us pray this prayer and cultivate the habit of doing so, remembering that the Holy Spirit is with us and in us, and that He is waiting to answer our prayer and to give the illumination we need.