Q&A: Reading Scripture to Meet with God

Reading Scripture to Meet with God

What part does prayer play in biblical interpretation?

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Answer

I do think prayer is a very essential part of our interpretation of the Bible. And that's because when we are studying the Bible, we're not only studying an historical document or a literary document, but we're actually seeking to meet with God himself. Jesus teaches very clearly what the rest of the Bible also teaches, that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Of course, that's the language of Paul. Jesus says something similar in John 7, that, "If you desire to know the truth, you will understand that I am from God," Jesus says. Those are just a couple of hints of the reality that interpreting the Bible is more than an intellectual exercise. It is a spiritual experience, a spiritual exercise itself. And so, it stands to reason that we should be praying and seeking the Lord before, during, and after sermon preparation, personal Bible study, devotional reading of all sorts, because that is part of what it means to read the Bible well.

Answer by Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington

Dr. Jonathan T. Pennington is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation, and Director of Research Doctoral Studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminar