When I read the bible, I read through a whole book. Not all at once, usually chapter by chapter. And sometimes if the chapter is long, or convicting, or complicated, only part of the chapter. Then I pray. Then I listen to an expositor. If I can't find a good sermon I read a commentary on the passage. Then I read the passage again. Usually a phrase or a verse will leap out at me, and I'll mull that, I'll look at parallel verses, or the historical background, and pray. And pray some more. Then I go on with the next chapter. In this way the Spirit delivers understanding and sews the quilt of the bible together pieces by piece so that little by little I gain understanding.
Finding credible Old Testament expositors is difficult but we as a body of believers are blessed to have John MacArthur's Isaiah sermons, Martyn Lloyd Jones, and S. Lewis Johnson to name a few. I'm reading Hosea right now and Pastor Lewis has a sermon series on the entire book.
I appreciate the care and accuracy he applies to his preaching. But also I've come to appreciate his prayers. He prays after reading the text and he prays at the end. His prayers are moving. They are just as wonderful as the text he is preaching on. He prays with sensitivity, within biblical standards, concerns from the heart...and this. I thought this was an odd and wonderful prayer. Odd because no one prays this any more.
"We pray for the whole church, for all of those who name in sincerity the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we pray, O God, that those who counterfeit Christianity may experience failure. We know that Thou hast said, the church will be founded upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the true church, and we pray O God for all of the manifestations of the truth. We pray for the other churches where the gospel is proclaimed, and today Lord may they be fruitful in their ministry." ~S Lewis Johnson
Praying for the failure of the counterfeits, while at the same time praying for all manifestations of the truth. How wonderful.
Hosea 7, "The Blessedness of Grey Hair"