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Article by  http://www.cardiffchristadelphians.org/blog/

Read first, then pray

Solomon made a startling statement that will surprise a great many people who do not regularly read their Bible. He tells us, “Don’t bother to pray if you don’t have time to read the Bible.” This is admittedly a very loose translation. His exact words were, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”

It is possible to give long prayers to God without moving one step nearer to Him. Prayer is a wonderful blessing that God has given whereby we may approach Him with our innermost thoughts. Yet Jesus also told us about a man who simply prayed with himself. He was so wrapped up in his own cleverness that he spent his entire prayer telling God what a wonderful man he was, and Jesus indicated that this man was only praying with himself and not to God.

God wants us to communicate to Him, but He also wants to communicate with us. He has made this possible, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Our Heavenly Father obviously expects us to read His word. In fact, we are to meditate upon it day and night. It is a love letter, a message He caused to be written and preserved for our learning and our salvation.

What does it mean if a person does not read the Bible? How can he be in harmony with the mind of God when he prays? First of all, he has not shown respect for God by making it a priority to read His word. And secondly, a spiritual mind cannot be developed if it is not in contact with the mind of God, and the only way that can happen is by hearing His word. Paul tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

There are many people who are quite willing to pray and pray and ask God for all the things they want, but they never have time to read the Bible to learn what God wants to tell His children. Those people are simply praying with themselves, not to God, and their prayers are an abomination to Him.

The language is strong — Solomon, moved by the Holy Spirit, has given us God’s opinion in language we would not have dared to use otherwise.

The lesson is to make our conversations with God a balance of prayer and reading His word so that the dialogue is truly two-sided. When we seek God’s help, we should search the scriptures for passages relating to our problem, prayerfully seeking guidance from His word. We can meditate on memorized portions of scripture when driving or waiting.

Balancing our prayers with scriptural meditation will help us to heed the instructions to, “Be not rash with thy mouth…to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few.” Prayer is an awe-inspiring privilege, an opportunity to approach the Creator of all the earth, an honor we should not treat casually. To develop the faith without which it is impossible to please God and have our prayers heard, we need to hear the word of God. Prayer is a wonderful blessing, “for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” says James. Let us get our priorities straight and listen to God. And then let us be thankful He will hear our prayers.

Robert J. Lloyd