The questions have been raised, Should prayer be offered at the beginning of a Bible study or at the close, or at both times? and, Is it best when offering prayer to request your reader to kneel or to bow the head? It is difficult to give direct answers to such questions, because circumstances vary greatly. Therefore we shall deal only with the general underlying principles.
Bible study and prayer are inseparable. If you read the Bible thoughtfully, you will pray; and if you really pray, you will instinctively go to the Bible for God's answer to your prayer. In the Bible, God speaks to the soul; in prayer, the individual talks to God. As we come to the study of the word of God, we come to partake of spiritual food; and how appropriate it is that we give thanks for this provision for our soul's need, and seek for light and guidance that the Word may profit all who read it. The Holy Spirit has been given to guide us into all truth and to teach us all things. John 14:26; 16:13.
Prayer draws us near to God, and He shuts us in with His divine presence. It opens mind and heart heavenward and places us in a receptive mood. It banishes the common cares of the day. How necessary, then, that we approach the study of the Word in a reverent and prayerful attitude.
During the Bible study we receive divine instruction which brings spiritual help and blessing to those present, or it may bring perplexity. In either case, what can be more fitting—yes, essential—than that we pray at the close of the Bible study? The prayer should be according to the need of the hour, either a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for the blessing received, or an earnest petition to God for the perplexed one. Pray that the Holy Spirit of God may shed light upon the subject presented, banish doubt and anxiety, and bring heaven's peace into lives. Commit the home in which you are working, into the care and keeping of the heavenly Father.
The prayer should be for the need of the hour and circumstance. At such times we can teach our readers to open "the heart to God as to a friend." The prayer should not seek to include the ends of the earth, but should be for this home, this reader, and this family. Their needs, as well as our own, should be mentioned.
It is not always necessary to kneel in prayer, either before or after a Bible reading. Prayer is a spiritual exercise, and it is of greater importance that the whole heart reach out after God in prayer, than that a certain posture be assumed. Both the Pharisee and the publican "stood" and prayed. One was condemned, the other justified—not because of his position while praying, but because of the attitude of the heart.
Reverently bowing the head and giving thanks to God for His word, seeking Him for blessing and help, seems appropriate for an informal gathering in the home. But at the times when deep need presses upon the soul, we can kneel and seek God more earnestly for help.
The Bible gives examples of sitting while praying as in 2 Samuel 7:18; of standing while praying, as in Luke 18:13, 14; as well as many instances in which the one praying kneels, of which Daniel 6:10 is an example. Well may we request, as did the disciples of old, "Lord, teach us to pray." The gracious words of our Lord are as truly for us as for the disciples then: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24.