For around 75 years (1536-1609) Geneva had a sort of Bible study group called the Congregation. It was something like an in-depth public Bible study where pastors, professors, and students would take turns explaining, interpreting, and applying Scripture and also answering questions. (The Reformers understood well that Scripture needs to be interpreted and explained in a corporate setting “to avoid the rash conclusions of private imaginations,” as Manetsch wrote. But that’s the topic of a different blog post.)
Before they read and explained Scripture, the men would pray the following prayer:
“We pray to you, our good God and Father, asking that you might forgive all our faults and offenses, and illuminate us by your Holy Spirit to have the true understanding of your holy Word. Give us the grace that we need to handle it purely and faithfully to the glory of your holy name, for the edification of the Church, and for our salvation. We ask these things in the name of the only and blessed Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
This is an excellent example of the kind of prayers we should pray as we approach Scripture. We pray for forgiveness, illumination, and for grace to understand and interpret it rightly – for God’s glory, the good of the church, and the salvation of his people.
The above quotes are found in Scott Manetsch, Calvin’s Company of Pastors, p. 134-5.