Recently Justin Taylor interviewed Dale Ralph Davis, who's written a number of excellent Old Testament commentaries. One of the questions he asked him was about the role of prayer in Biblical interpretation. Davis gave a very helpful answer, and is equally applicable both to those who are preparing to teach the Bible to others and those seeking to read it for themsleves. Here is what Davis said on the role of prayer in Biblical interpretation:
There’s not much I can say here except that the temptation I run into is ignore it. I’ve been so happy to run into the following quotation from Owen:
For a man solemnly to undertake the interpretation of any portion of Scripture without invocation of God, to be taught and instructed by his Spirit, is a high provocation of him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from any one who thus proudly engages in a work so much above his ability.
I originally came across this quote in Richard Pratt’s He Gave Us Stories. All I can say is that’s where I have to come back to again and again. It is very easy for me to start in and pull the books off the shelf and so on and dive into the Hebrew text and not give even a thought to specific prayer about that. I’ve done that before and you’re in the middle of it and you think “Boy, what a Godless approach this is. Here I am dealing with syntax and interpretation and I haven’t even really sought the Lord’s face about it.” I know it is the proper thing to say—”you need to pray before you prepare”—but there needs to be a certain desperation about this which I’m not sure we normally have. Again, all I can really say is that I seek to catch myself in this area and repent and go back to that point and then start over again.